This week is baking week. No, not nationally or anything, but in my house, this week is the week all the things are made. I have a repertoire; it’s unchanging. My kids like it this way. Kids don’t like when traditions aren’t traditional. So this year I’ll make the same things I always make.
- Peppermint Bark (with ganache, amen)
- Sugar cookies (frosted, obviously)
- Swizzle sticks (I can’t share this recipe because I can’t find it)
- Russian Tea Cakes (or Mexican Wedding Cookies, depending on where you’re from)
The swizzle sticks are my husband’s favorite. His mother makes them every year, but since we aren’t near his mother, this falls to me.
No pressure (so much pressure).
Even if I don’t want to (but let’s be real, I want to, because who doesn’t want butter and sugar), I’ll pull out the mixer and the cookie press. I’ll buy five pounds of butter and 10 pounds of powdered sugar and a gallon of peanut butter. I’ll crush candy canes into chunks and dust. I’ll spend two days baking and blending and melting.
There is no time of year that there is more food than right now. 'Tis the season to be eating. And it’s a literal season of dread for a lot of folks, especially those struggling with, or recovering from, an eating disorder. So, me. And maybe you. And definitely someone you know.
The old feelings might creep in. I’m not manifesting, I’m just preparing myself. The calories. The careful attention to the fit of my jeans (which I hate anyway). The feeling that everyone is watching what I’m putting in my mouth, judging me and my fatness. The guilt over licking my fingers, licking the spatula, licking the bowl. There are a lot of complicated emotions connected to food, and many of them demand to be navigated this time of the year while I’m surrounded by boxes full of sugary holiday tradition.
So how are we going to get through the holiday? How we will survive? Can we thrive?
1. Name your fear.
Did you know that underneath the most passionate emotions is fear? It’s true.
Name it. Are you afraid of weight gain? Of losing control around food? Are you afraid you’ll eat fudge until you can’t get your pants on? Are you afraid the cookies at the office will turn into 10 pounds of extra ass? Minute on your lips, forever on your hips? (However that stupid saying goes.)
2. Embrace the worst.
Are you afraid you’re going to shovel pie into your face with a bulldozer? Okay. So if you DO shovel pie into your face with a bulldozer (seems impractical but whatever floats your boat), what’s going to happen? You may gain weight.
You also may not.
If you’re afraid you’re going to gain weight, let’s assume you DO gain weight. What’s the very worst thing that’s going to happen to you?
I’ll tell you.
Your clothes won’t fit.
That’s literally the very worst thing that can happen to you. And you’d have to gain a fair amount of weight for that to happen.
This is just the truth. You aren’t going to die. You aren’t going to get diabetes from a dozen cookies, even two or three or four dozen. You aren’t going to have a heart attack from eating a plate of fudge.
What’s going to happen if you eat a plate of fudge? You’re probably definitely going to get a stomach ache.
3. Get with the stats.
While it’s not important, it may still be helpful to acknowledge that you’re likely going to be surrounded with articles like “How To Avoid That Holiday Gain.” Guess what the average “holiday gain” is? One or two pounds. That’s it.
4. Acknowledge your set point.
Your set point weight is a place your body likes to chill out. It hovers in about a 10 pound range. I have one. You have one. Your dog has one. If you are eating and moving in your normal fashion (that is, what is normal for you), your body will go back to that place. I’m not making this up. It’s science.
What does this mean? Even if you DO gain two pounds (or more), your body is going to go all homeostatic. What does THIS mean? Your body is a constant state of checks and balances. It’s all a very complicated set of chemical reactions with hormones and acronyms like ATP and things being synthesized and things that mean nothing to people that aren’t doctors or biologists, like the Krebs cycle. What does this mean practically?
Chill out bro.
5. Instead of flipping out, listen to your body.
If you aren’t already eating intuitively, that’s a good thing to look into. But even if you aren’t eating intuitively already, here’s a primer:
Listen to what your body likes. Maybe you love cookies but maybe you feel like shit after eating cookies. Your body will tell you.
Eat mindfully. This is different from intuitive eating but they are sort of intertwined. Sit down, eat slowly, enjoy what you’re eating, stop when you’re full. If you eat past the point of fullness, that’s fine. Your body will tell you that too (see above: stomach ache).
6. Buy some dang leggings.
You know someone who sells Lularoe. EVERYONE knows someone who sells Lularoe. Buy some dang leggings. They will mail you the leggings, you don't even need to go to a store. You don’t need to worry about your jeans right now. The jeans will be there in February. The leggings are there for you now (or wherever your nearest Lularoe consultant is, which is probably literally next door).
This isn’t denial; this is choosing comfort and happiness over zippers and buttons.
Go ahead, choose cookies over stress. Choose peace. Choose yourself.