One of the first things that comes to mind when I think of Thanksgiving and Christmas is food.

If your family is like mine, we don't do just a simple one-course meal. Eating is a full-day ordeal. Don't get me wrong, I love food, especially the food that we have for these two-holiday meals. However, holiday meals take on a new meaning of their own when you have Crohn's.

Crohn's Disease is an autoimmune, chronic inflammatory disorder where certain parts of the digestive tract get inflamed and wreck havoc on the rest of the body. Holiday meals are the ultimate test of self-control, with temptations at every turn. Or should I say, after every course.

These are the stages of holiday meals, as told by someone who has Crohn's.

1. Confidence in yourself.

I’m going to be OK. I’ll just eat small amounts of everything and in moderation. I got this! It’s going to be a great day. You'll eat some good food, keep your stomach in line and have fun. It can't be too hard.

2. Temptation strikes.

Ooh, that looks good. I know I shouldn’t eat that so early in the day, though, otherwise I’ll mess everything else up. Plus, I have to save room for the 10 courses that I have coming later.

3. Be strong.


Cue the mental pep talk. What did we decide when we started the party? Small amounts only of foods that won’t trigger WWIII. We want to enjoy the holiday. Visions of past food-related Crohn’s attacks start flooding in. *Shudders and moves away from the food.*

4. Temptation strikes again and hits hard.

Overstimulation. Antipasto galore, dip, chips, bread and fried dough are all calling your name to come eat. Finally, after going back and forth, your stomach got the KO on the brain and you give in.

5. Just one bite.

I’ll just take one scoop on my plate and go sit somewhere else where I won’t be tempted to take more. Yes, it is OK because I’m using moderation.

6. Just one more bite …

*Throws moderation out the window.* It is my last one I promise. I’ll take another scoop of this and a little bit of that while I’m walking by and that is absolutely it.

7. NO MORE, you are cut off.

Also, I’ll tell the people sitting here to not let me take anything else if I come back.

8. Cue the whale noises.

For those of you who have seen Finding Nemo, close your eyes and try to remember what Dory sounds like when she is showing Marlin that she can speak whale. Well, my stomach begins to show off its whale-speaking talents at the most opportune times. For instance, while we are praying together as a family, my stomach usually recites a soliloquy or two. The red light is starting to flash.

9. War is declared

It’s decided. My colon has declared war on me and my stomach and is pushing full on into battle — guns, cannons, grenades; the whole nine yards. It holds nothing back. Those visions of past food-related attacks are starting filter in one-by-one again.

10. Pinky promise.

Wow, OK that was awful. I absolutely have to remember not to eat that again no matter how good it looks. I’m going to be good for the rest of the night, just like I promised myself that I would be.

11. Ooh, that looks good.

It's like the "Circle of Life", but with holiday food.