I enjoyed spending my Christmas holidays with my parents and my sister’s family, not to mention my little nieces. 🙂
I have to admit though that I broke almost all the “eating rules” I set for myself before Christmas except one: during mealtimes I only ate what I wanted and took no seconds.
Despite the fact that I spent some time lolling in bed and munching chocolate, I had no difficulty fitting into my jeans when I left my parents house after a week-long stay.
Actually this was probably the first time ever I wasn’t overstuffed after the Christmas holidays.
Nevertheless, there is one thing that continued to bother me even after Christmas.
I and my parents drove to my sister Hanna’s house to spend the Christmas Eve* and enjoy the Christmas dinner. Hanna’s in-laws, both in their 60’s, came to celebrate the day with us. During the Christmas Dinner I only ate the dishes I really enjoy and wanted to eat, and I didn’t take a second serving.
When I left the dinner table, I wasn’t bursting from my seams like I usually am after the Christmas dinner.
Some time during the night, Hanna’s father in law briefly remarked: “It’s strange that these days food is not good enough to eat for young people.”
If don’t know if the remark was aimed at me or not, but it stuck with me nevertheless.
I’ve pondered over that statement form many perspective, but try as I may I couldn’t make any sense of the attitude it reflects.
Not in today’s world.
No one would’ve stood to gain if I had overeaten during the Christmas dinner. No one would’ve stood to gain if I had eaten every single dish just because it was there. Nor could I justify overeating by assuming my sister Hanna would’ve gotten hurt if I didn’t taste all the dishes, because she knew full well how I planned to eat during the Christmas holidays (we are authoring a Finnish health and fitness blog together).
I read later in a local paper that much of what is part of the Finnish Christmas tradition today dates from the 19th century when people still lived in a rural society. In those days, people often suffered from malnutrition and from outright hunger, so overeating during Christmas was both a luxury and a smart strategy. No one could afford to pick and choose what they put in their mouth.
That is not true for most people who live in the Western world. In spite of that we still prepare for Christmas like we lived in the 19th century: we stock so much food and prepare so many dishes that it could feed an entire regiment, not a family of four or five.
Usually all that extra food is then either thrown away or stored in our bodies where it will burden our health and mar our looks.
I think that times have changed but we’ve forgotten to update our traditions.
It might not be a bad idea to question the way you spend Christmas by asking yourself the following questions:
- Do you eat the dishes you really want to eat during Christmas or do you overeat out of obligation or simply to appear courteous?
- Do you overeat during Christmas just out of habit?
- Do you have to stock Christmas foods and dishes for 7 days’ need, or would stocking for one or two day’s need be enough?
- Do you eat every morsel of food just because you don’t want to put it into waste?**
- Is there any other ways to celebrate Christmas or – other occasions – than by overeating?
*Christmas Eve is the most important day of Christmas in Finland, because for some reason we get our gifts delivered by Santa himself on the Christmas Eve, not the day after. Consequently, no one much cares about the Christmas Day in Finland..
**Do you really think the food is not wasted if it’s stocked in your body? Do you imagine that medications for heart disease, diabetes and hypertension cost nothing? Is angioplasty free, and how much does it cost to buy new outfits when you gain weight year after year? Do you still believe that children in Africa get enough to eat if you always remember to clean your plate?
Is it really so that striving for moderation is outright radical in a world of excess?