To those who diet after Christmas

It's not about our bodies; it's about the size of our hearts.

There’s no doubt, Christmas hurts the waistline.

The chocolates, cinnamon buns (Pioneer Woman anyone?) and sugar cookies, the turkey and potatoes and perogies. For a former anorexic, the choices are overwhelming. Do I just take all five salads? How many pieces of ham? And what about the dozens of desserts?

I’m far from those eating disorder days, yet not as far as I thought.

I’ve got two boys now, and I know they’re watching me. I’ve got a husband who loves my curves, yet when the pants grow snug, I feel less-than.

And I immediately make plans to cut back in January, because it’s the magical month, isn’t it? The month to get back into shape? The month for women to reclaim that size six dress, to purge for all of December’s sins?

Diet pill companies love January. They make commercials full of men and women lamenting their size, and none of it’s about health – it’s all about the bottom dollar, and meanwhile, we’re losing our sons and daughters to the industry. The message of Bethlehem forgotten.

Girls as young as four years old are dieting because mommy and daddy are complaining about their “Christmas rolls,” and the damage of holiday excess lasts year long.

But it’s not about the food; it’s about Jesus. It’s not about the presents; it’s about Jesus.

We can celebrate, yes, but let’s teach our girls and boys how to do it with grace. Let’s show compassion towards ourselves when we eat too many chocolates because we are human. And let January be a month of forgiveness. What better way to start the New Year?

Life abundant

Let’s practise forgiveness – towards ourselves, towards each other – even as we stumble along and try to figure out this life, in our snug pants, the hospitals full of starving youth, because it’s not about the size of our bodies. It’s about the size of our hearts.

It’s not about getting anything – thinner, or back into shape. It’s about giving, long into the New Year.

It’s about giving our time, our food, our money and our homes. Like Magi we follow the stars laden with presents for the Christ child. And the pants will adjust, even as the feasting dies down. The fridge will one day be emptied of leftovers, the candy put away.

But even as the tree is packed up and the ornaments stowed, Jesus is still being born among us. Come to set us free from the weigh scale, from food, so we might know life abundant in him.

And this, friends, is something worth celebrating.


  • Emily Wierenga

    Emily Wierenga is a wife and mother who is passionate about the church and lives in northern Alberta. She is the author of the memoirs Atlas Girl and Making it Home (Baker Books), and the founder of a non-profit working in Africa and Asia.

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