Eating Feelings

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We eat for joy, for sorrow, for boredom, for comfort. Whether festive or mundane, our days and moods are defined by  the foods we choose. And of course the present holiday season is rife with treats. What happens, then, when celebratory times and tragic events converge– such as on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary? Some of us were too revolted too eat; others were too consumed with grief to bother; still others grabbed darling cookies to bring to their children in demonstrations of love because we are the fortunate ones.

I fall into all three categories. Note– my kids didn’t actually have the chance yet to enjoy the cookies because they lost dessert privileges for a few days, but that’s a different story. Let’s just say I had to shelf the elf. They also don’t know the impetus for the impulsive purchase because (thus far) I have been able to shield them from all media coverage. Tonight, guarded by innocence, they’ll share the cookies.

On Friday I planned a lighthearted, witty post on holiday eating– namely baked goods, which you might recall I do love. As you can imagine, any humor was sucked right out of me as I heard the stomach-churning news over the radio. You needn’t be a parent or teacher, school administrator or first responder to feel the horror, grief and anguish of this. You need only be human.

I’ll leave it up to you– if and when you are ready– to read my thoughts on holiday treats. It comes with a small confession: whilst on my sabbatical I have been staying lightly active in my role as nutrition consultant. I’m still with Trismarter.com,  which provides online coaching and nutrition support for multisport athletes. I do so because I genuinely enjoy the work, and also because I enjoy funding my sabbatical pursuits. I’m a firm believer that eating is the fourth discipline of triathlon, and I encourage my clients to fuel properly. Sometimes that, by necessity, involves dessert. Recently I wrote a piece on how to make sure your holiday meal has room for this crucial component.

Regardless of whether you’ll choose to read nutrition tips and regardless of which feelings you are eating today, tomorrow or in the weeks to come, you’ll likely do so while holding thoughts of the Newtown community in your heart. Cookies do wonders– maybe not for the hips– but certainly for the soul.

The Pies That Bind

Apples have been causing man and woman strife since the days of Eden. This weekend proved no different. My husband and I were out for a rare child-free dinner, marveling at the sunset on a warm summer autumn evening. We agreed that it’s hard to believe fall is upon us when the first of October may hit 90 degrees. I’m not at all complaining; it’s just odd. I don’t love cold weather, but I appreciate the festivities that come with it, not the least of which is the delicious Pink Ribbon Bagel at Panera, offered only one month a year. Enjoyed with hazelnut coffee on a brisk fall day, that treat is worth the wait. Not to mention it’s a great way to support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Other fall favorites are evident, such as scarecrows, pumpkins and Halloween costumes. But apples, a signature of the season, are few and far between at best. When I expressed this disappointment to my husband, he immediately offered up that we should head to Julian to pick apples.

Where?!

Apparently this Julian is the apple orchard mecca of Southern California. It also happens to be 40 miles away. My relief that apples do exist was overshadowed by my disbelief that he dared to suggest we go. You see, in the 17 years that my husband spent on the East Coast he never took to traditions that were seasonal and symbolic, like apple picking. He did join us fairly frequently on family outings to Terhune Orchards, a beloved farm just down the road from us in New Jersey—but that was mostly for their famed cider donuts. Now that I‘ve moved over 3,000 miles away from the ubiquitous apples, he wants me to drive 40 more to experience something he didn’t particularly enjoy when it was actually easy to do so?

I have a better solution: When life hands you lemons, make lemonade; when life doesn’t provide apples to pick, buy a delicious pie. Therefore, October is dedicated to finding the best local apple pie. After all, we are hosting Thanksgiving this year so I’ll need some fabulous desserts. That means my pie tasting month is essentially a selfless act. And because I am so giving, I suppose I will share my test samples with my dear husband. We both love a good pie, regardless of where the apples are grown.