Over the past few years, Christmas has become one of my favorite holidays. It’s not that I didn’t like it before…but the whole “holiday party” and “Christmas cookie” type stuff totally stressed out my eating disorder. Fortunately, those days are behind me.
I’ve also found that I enjoy the Christmas season even more since I’ve been with my husband. Before we were married, we went on a lot of romantic, festive dates during the holiday season, which was so fun. Then, that first Christmas, he invited me to join in with his family’s holiday celebration, and I think that’s when I started to think, “Okay, I think this is the real deal…“ I have a lot of really special memories from that Christmas season. The next year, we were engaged, and then the next year was our first Christmas that we spent as a married couple.
Needless to say, Christmas (and life in general) is an entirely different experience when you’re living for more than just food, exercise, and the size/shape of your body.
[Now, that’s not to say that food can’t be a highlight of the season…On one of our festive dates, we visited a small Swiss town in Wisconsin and between the two of us, polished off an entire pot of fondue. We had no regrets, but we did need a nap.]
Themes of This Year’s Christmas:
Another reason I’ve come to love Christmas since getting married is that now, as a wife, I have a renewed interest in my home. As a single lady, I didn’t have much furniture, nothing matched, and the last thing I had money for was seasonal home decor. While I still don’t budget for that latter piece, my husband and I have started accumulating our own little collection of holiday decorations that have been gifted to us. I’ve found that I really love pulling out this box of decorations every year, swapping our regular mugs for the Christmas ones, and stringing up the lights. We didn’t get a tree this year because we were 99% sure that our puppy would knock it down, but I did buy new wrapping paper for my go-to holiday decor: wrapping up our picture frames.
The picture frames in these photos are just our regular home decor…wedding photos, paintings, things we had on our walls anyway. I took them down, wrapped them up in wrapping paper (and leftover ribbon from our wedding) and hung them back up right where they were. I love how it looks.
Circling back to what I said about living for more than food…I still do enjoy Christmas treats. Or rather, I am actually able to enjoy them now because rather than avoiding them or binge eating them, (followed by horrible guilt and shame,) I am eating the ones I crave and allowing them to satisfy my palate. The Christmas season is so much more joyful now that I’m able to be fully present with all that it has to offer.
When I was in college, my sister and I started a tradition of a completely out-of-control Christmas cookie baking day. We usually end up making anywhere from 8-12 different kinds of cookies, cakes, and other treats. We give most of them away to friends and family, but we also enjoy eating many of them ourselves!
Our first Christmas together, my husband and I decided to start a tradition of making red and green pickled peppers and jars of giardinara. These are SO yummy, and since they’re canned (jarred?) they last for months after Christmas. But they’re always a fun and festive addition to the Christmas table.
I love our Christmas mugs. Even more, I love drinking whipped cream lattes out of them. We don’t have a fancy coffee machine with a milk frother, but I love making “lattes” by pouring extra strong coffee over a mug full of homemade vanilla whipped cream. Very decadent, very delicious.
I discovered the joys of the ALDI Christmas aisle when I was in college, working as a nanny for an Austrian family. They always had things like Stollen and Pfeffernusse around the house during the Christmas season, and I was very surprised by how delicious the treats were. One day I stumbled across the same brand at ALDI, bought some for myself, and never turned back.
Making Christmas Treats Feel Normal
Eating sweets when I was stuck in disordered eating always felt scandalous. I felt like I shouldn’t be eating them, and almost always felt guilty for doing so, too. Every time I saw the calorie count on a package, I’d see it as “extra” calories because I never, ever budgeted to include foods like that in my daily calorie limit.
Now that I’m no longer restricting (or counting) the calories I eat and have learned that a carb is a carb is a carb, I no longer feel obligated to choose oatmeal or whole grain toast for breakfast. Instead, I feel free to eat something like Marzipan Stollen or a Gingerbread Man as my carb of choice in the morning, alongside a steaming cup of creamy coffee. (Is there anything better in life?) I also include some scrambled eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, or another protein source so that my blood sugar doesn’t get all wonky.
If eating cookies for breakfast sounds unhealthy to you, I challenge you to reconsider that thought process. It’s definitely healthier to eat ‘dessert’ as part of a meal rather than to add it on to the end of dinner when you’re already full. It’s also healthier than eating it on an empty stomach without any protein to keep blood sugar stable. I have learned that there really is wisdom in the old practice of saving room for desserts. Or rather, making room.
I saw this painting on the ImmaEatThat blog, and loved it. I think it fits in really nicely to the Christmas theme of enjoying food, but enjoying the friends and family around us even more.
Have a holly, jolly, non-diet Christmas.Tweet