The Social Eating Dilemma

I have ruined every holiday since Thanksgiving of 2009. ED hates holidays, therefore I look forward to them with a growing sense of self-consciousness and gloom. At this point each passing occasion for celebration seems like a marker on the long path that been recovery. I feel like that stakes get higher with each holiday though – it’s been x number of months, am I still allowed to be anxious about this? Holidays are about food; they rely upon long drawn out meals and conversation that fluctuates (like all conversation do) between tense and relaxed, the comical and the arduous. Tomorrow marks yet another holiday: Easter. Usually my family eats lamb for Easter. This is difficult enough for me – after studying in the Middle East I genuinely liked lamb, but now it’s horrifying. I no longer see a well-prepared morsel, I see the fat and the ensuing stomach-ache (gastroparesis makes my dilemma just that much more complicated).
We’ve invited our new neighbors over to enjoy Easter dinner with us tomorrow. We’re having lamb, roasted potatoes with rosemary, asparagus and green beans. Our neighbor is bringing a gluten-free carrot cake. Usually knowing the menu before being expected to eat with other people is helpful, but here gastroparesis and ED come to an intersection. I strive to look like a “normal eater” in front of other people, but given the fact that I physically can’t digest normal food, let alone in meal-like quantities, this tends to be a losing battle.
About the cake – our neighbors are really thoughtful people, she offered to bring dessert and is going out of her way to make it gluten-free so I can enjoy it too. Now I’m trapped, when someone bothers to undertake a g-free baking project for my benefit, I cannot be so rude as to not taste it. How do I keep myself calm and therefore capable of natural conversation all the while appearing to be partaking of the food? This is actually a question – please post comments if you have any suggestions for making “social eating” a success.
One more facet that needs to be considered: My dad is in town this weekend (back from his new digs, soon to be our new home, in Indiana) so we went out for dinner tonight. This was obviously anxiety-inducing. So after going out tonight I feels like I’ve used up all the courage I had for eating in diversified settings. It’s as if I accumulate “social eating” credits, every once in a while I’m brave enough to give it a go. Two nights in a row is certainly going to be a challenge.

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