Friday, December 16, 2005
Graciously Receiving Food Gifts After WLS
‘Tis the season to give and receive! Cookies, cakes, candies and treats are trading hands in holiday exchange. This week I was given the cinnamon roll pictured by a woman who proudly makes and gives giant cinnamon rolls as her signature dish. You can see this cinnamon roll is nearly the size of a child’s head! It’s a beautiful cinnamon roll, but it’s also full of processed white flour and sugar and eggs and fat. Not something I’m going to put into my little WLS body.
Because we are but acquaintances this woman does not know about my WLS or my dietary needs. She simply gave me this gift of her hands in celebration of the season. I accepted her gift with a smile and gracious words and told her I could hardly wait to share such a lovely treat with my husband. She seemed happy to have her gift well received.
Neither my husband or I tasted the cinnamon roll but we savored the gesture. It was nice to receive an unexpected kindness during this busy season.
There was a time, early in my WLS life, when I questioned the motive of people who offered gifts of food. My suspicions were high that others gave me food in hopes that I would not succeed at weight loss. I received a pound of my dear friend’s signature fudge not long after I zipped my first-ever size 12 jeans. And it seems like about the time I reached goal weight people were giving me food gifts all the time. I questioned them, blamed them and was angry because I thought they wanted me fat again.
In hindsight I realize that in most cases people give food gifts out of habit, they have always given food gifts and have no idea what else to give. Food gifts during the holidays are an intrinsic part of our culture. The gifters did not have a motive they had a habit. We think the change WLS brings is all about ourselves, but truth told our WLS and weight loss is a strange oddity in our world of friends, family and peers. People simply don’t know what to do for us. It is uncomfortable for them and uncomfortable for us.
Months after receiving my friend’s homemade fudge we talked about it. She told me how she deliberated over giving me such a gift. “I didn’t want to give you something you couldn’t enjoy, but I didn’t want you to feel left-out or that I was treating you differently because of your weight loss and surgery. I didn’t know what to do,” she said with frustration, “so I did what I’ve always done and that was give you my homemade fudge.”
It is perfectly appropriate to accept food gifts graciously. We’ve been told since childhood “It’s not the gift, it’s the thought that counts.” It is also perfectly appropriate to privately decline consuming food gifts that do not support our health and nutritional needs after WLS. There are always other options for using the food gifts. Share with someone who will enjoy them or quietly discard them. In the case of the giant cinnamon bun I’ve carefully wrapped and stored it in the freezer. Some cold winter night when we have unexpected drop-in guests it will make a handy treat warmed and sliced into bite-sized tidbits to enjoy with coffee.
It’s not the gift, it’s the thought that counts.