A Christmas food question

They say the average person consumes 7,000 calories on Christmas day. I’m not surprised. One of my favourite things about Christmas (aside from all the presents) is the food. In my family we eat the same thing every single year. It absolutely has to be turkey, with pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, stuffing, gravy, the works. All washed down with lots of red wine, of course. The turkey is followed by Christmas pudding, doused in brandy and served with brandy sauce. By late afternoon everyone will be passed out in a food coma watching crap TV. But as if by magic, a few hours later we’ll find room for cheese and biscuits, Christmas cake and half a tub of Quality Street.

No wonder I can never fit into my skinny jeans come January 1st.

Obviously this year I’ll be skipping the champagne breakfast, buckets of red wine and G&Ts. And that’s fine. I don’t feel like I’m missing out. Not at all. To be honest, the combination of all that food and alcohol made me feel unpleasantly drowsy and uncomfortable. By the afternoon I’d have a headache and would start feeling annoyed with everyone.

So I’m actually looking forward to not drinking this year. My question is this: what about the food?

I love Christmas pudding and Christmas cake, but are they off the menu now? I think the pudding probably is. It’s covered in brandy and set alight just before serving, so I don’t think the alcohol is burnt off properly. What about the Christmas cake? Made in November, it is topped up with brandy in late December.

On the other hand, what’s the big deal about consuming alcohol in food? It’s not going to get me drunk. I’d be sick before I got at all tipsy. But will it reignite my taste for alcohol? Until now I have avoided food with alcohol in like the plague. I don’t even buy mouthwash with alcohol in it, just in case.

I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out. My mum always serves the same food on Christmas day – it’s tradition. So I can’t just say “let’s have chocolate cake instead this year”. Anyway, I don’t want to kick up a fuss. It’s taken my family a while to get their heads round the fact that I don’t drink now. But not eating certain foods? I’m not sure they’ll understand that and I’m not sure I want to miss out.


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19 thoughts on “A Christmas food question

  1. byebyebeer December 23, 2013 at 4:16 pm Reply

    I am superstitious about mouthwash too. I figure it’s easy enough to buy it without. Last week I made cookies with vanilla extract and stayed away from raw dough for that reason too. Seems easy enough to skip and avoid the guilt, if nothing else. It wouldn’t get me drunk, but still feels tricky. Can you bring a dessert to share and have some of that? Maybe they can serve the brandy sauce on the side?

  2. vida005 December 23, 2013 at 4:25 pm Reply

    I don’t like all that rich fruit and peel! So a no brainer for me – have always avoided. But I can see is tricky. You have done so well this year and if you avoid mouthwash cos of the alcohol then I would avoid the Xmas pud and cake. Not worth it and you have come to far. Good luck with it and have a well deserved brilliant Christmas anyway.

  3. primrosep December 23, 2013 at 5:10 pm Reply

    I have had the same thought process! So far I have avoided alcohol in cooking where it has not been baked away, such as in a trifle. I have decided definitely no brandy butter, but will possibly have a token spoonful of Christmas pudding. Could you ask your mother (beforehand!) to serve you from the centre of the pud where the brandy poured on at the end won’t have penetrated? Overall I would say if in doubt leave it out – you can always plead being completely stuffed from first course – gives you an excuse for that extra roast potato 😉 Good luck and enjoy!

    • soberjournalist December 24, 2013 at 8:54 pm Reply

      You know, the chances are I actually WILL be stuffed from the main course. I think I will probably skip it – or if I do have some it will be without the brandy butter and sauce. Merry Christmas!

      • primrosep December 27, 2013 at 9:10 am

        I did have a small portion of Christmas pudding and I could really taste the brandy in it. All sorts of alarm bells went off in my head and I really wished I hadn’t. Didn’t have any the next day. Will have to remember that next year!

  4. DonnaE December 23, 2013 at 10:22 pm Reply

    Today I was offered a mince pie which had added port in it. It took me a back for a second coz it’s another first in my sober life. In the past it would have been scoffed with no thought at all but I did give it a miss coz tomorrow is my day 50. This is the first time in years that I will not be drinking at Christmas and I won’t be eating anything with alcohol in it either just incase? Maybe in the future I will change that but for now I’m not taking any chances… I’m sure that you will be able to avoid the pud and cake without it being an issue. Happy Christmas to you. I hope you have a wonderful time xx

    • soberjournalist December 24, 2013 at 8:53 pm Reply

      Thanks for your comment. This will be my first sober Christmas too. Hope you have a lovely time!

  5. lucy2610 December 24, 2013 at 6:10 pm Reply

    Will be passing on the brandy butter and brandy sauce for sure but don’t want to miss the Xmas pud. We’re in charge of the puddings for tomorrow so are taking two Xmas puds (its a large Xmas gathering!) so will ask that only one is flambeed in brandy, Merry Xmas to you xx

  6. Rebecca A. Watson December 24, 2013 at 6:32 pm Reply

    I hadn’t really thought too much about this and a friend served my Christmas pudding with brandy sauce (it was my first time in the UK and she wanted me to try everything they are famous for). I had a few bites and could definitely tasted the booze in it. Honestly, it just didn’t taste good. Like you said, it’s not like you’d get drunk from the food. In my opinion, if you’re worried about it, don’t do it. If you think you’ll be fine, try it. But be warned: booze just tastes kinda gross.

    • soberjournalist December 24, 2013 at 8:51 pm Reply

      That’s really interesting that you thought it tasted gross! I think my tastes have changed too so I might not like it anymore anyway. think I am probably going to skip it. Have a good Christmas!

  7. dianaburke December 24, 2013 at 6:33 pm Reply

    Why don’t you say you’re trying to lose weight and don’t want any Xmas pud for that reason?

    • soberjournalist December 24, 2013 at 8:49 pm Reply

      Thanks that’s quite a good idea – I will have eaten loads by that point anyway!

  8. Rare Herb December 24, 2013 at 11:43 pm Reply

    Aloha soberjournalist,
    When I first kicked booze I was very cautious about eating any foods that were made with liquor and hadn’t been cooked/baked off. Over time I found that I was able to eat foods made with liquor and have no issue. Like Rachel mentioned, I do find it tastes pretty gross! This is your journey, and if you feel like you can’t handle it, don’t eat the food. If you feel like you can, eat it.

    Early in my journey (after a year and a half sober) I tried out AA, maybe 6-8 meetings, found it was not for me and never went again. I have had people judge me for taking cold medicine or using mouthwash with alcohol and they would say things like “you can’t have that.” I’ve always thought to myself, “yes I can, it’s my journey and I make the rules.” After about 4 years of sobriety, I knew I’d never drink again and I have no worries that I will ever go back down that road. I will even take a small sip of champagne on New Year’s Eve (when I say small, I mean I let the champagne hit my lips, give it a lick, and that’s about as far as it goes!!). I’ve never had cravings or the desire to go back to that life. Having said that, I realize that my way works for me and may not work for you or anyone else. So, it’s you’re journey, you make the rules, no one else. Happy Holidays and good luck!

    Rare Herb

  9. Chris December 26, 2013 at 1:00 am Reply

    I hope your Christmas went ok, whatever happened with the brandy butter etc. this blog has been a real wake up call to me. Thanks.

  10. One day at a time December 26, 2013 at 11:16 am Reply

    I agree with the above posts. It’s your journey and you have to do what’s best for you. I only read this post after Christmas, and to be honest, whilst having my Christmas dinner I didn’t give the alcohol content of the food much thought. I’m not addicted to food, so I allowed myself Christmas pud. I could taste the alcohol but it felt nice and warming. It didn’t send me running to the bottle for another drink. I don’t associate alcohol in food with the alcohol in my glass, so it wasn’t an issue for me and I’ve not beaten myself up for having the pudding. Hope you enjoyed your dinner, whatever you decided.

  11. lovinglife52 December 26, 2013 at 12:10 pm Reply

    It really is up to the individual and you may modify your actions with time. There is no point getting stressed about food in alcohol. It will not do you any good, and may start cravings etc. If this is your reaction,I would give any food with alcohol a miss,as you then know you are doing the right thing for you. I did this in my early days.

    However, as time moved on I decided that I had beaten my addiction and that alcohol in food, to add flavour was different, to the times I spent guzzling booze, to try and blot out reality. I now enjoy food such as Christmas pudding and I do not connect that with a desire to drink. I do not attempt to moderate drinking, I simply abstain as I have had enough, and have moved on. That is what works for me.

    If you are in a support group like AA, many will think it wrong to have alcohol in food as they see alcoholism as a disease and the alcoholic powerless. This can be a useful idea at first, when recovery is a battle ,but some like myself, decide to leave after a period and live an independent life. Others remain, and prefer a more rigid approach within a group environment, where they can give and receive support. They like having “rules to follow” in their new life.

    In other words there are many ways to do recovery and it is up to the individual to find a method that will work for them. This can also be modified with time, and if you feel worried about things that are being said in your support group then it may be an idea to seek some outside assistance to get things in perspective. Do not just sit around worrying, sometimes going to a new group where you are not known can be refreshing.

    I would really not take risks if you are unsure. I have heard enough stories of relapse to know that different things can trigger the response. I would even say that some, actually look for an excuse to relapse when things are not going well, so they can justify the reason to be something like a Christmas pudding rather than their own intentions.

    The holiday period is different to the rest of the year and can bring it’s own problems, but like everything else new in recovery it involves a learning process, until you reach a stage where you are comfortable. This can take some time, but the rewards are great to those who keep going. Good luck everyone! And merry Xmas.

  12. Birdo December 30, 2013 at 11:02 pm Reply

    I bet on April 6th you thought about the positives and the future as a sober person, and by April 8th you probably wanted to kick yourself in the head and couldn’t imagine you’d still be sober and brilliant for New Year’s Eve. Well, here you are – and you’ve dragged a load of other people along with you to see in the New Year in similarly improbable fashion. Tomorrow night is the start for me, and I will be raising a glass of 7Up at midnight, and hoping I can be even half as brave and tenacious as you have been. Thanks Kate, and happy 2014.

  13. Rois December 20, 2016 at 10:23 am Reply

    I make a separate small Christmas pudding & cake with no alcohol for a non drinker in my house. Just use orange or apple juice instead. Wouldn’t know the difference really but it probably wouldn’t keep as long

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