All I Want for Christmas is My Eating Disorder Recovery

Christmas tree ornament

Contributor: Kirsten Haglund, Community Relations Representative for Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment and Founder and President of the Kirsten Haglund Foundation

Let’s get real: what was the last the gift you received for Christmas, or the holidays, that you remember, or made a profound impact on your life?  Unless it was something massively life-changing, like a marriage proposal or a pet or a million dollar check, it’s likely you don’t really remember.

That is because while holiday gift giving can be fun, for both giver and receiver, often the gifts we receive aren’t particularly that memorable, or they may bring joy in the moment, but lack long-lasting fulfillment.

That is because material things and objects of our desire don’t entirely fill our souls with peace and serenity. The holidays have become so consumer-driven that is hard even to temper our emotions enough to discern between “wants” and “needs accurately.”

And who can resist a good Christmas sale? The materialism of the holiday season can provoke both excitement and disappointment: just another element of Christmas that can lead to unmet expectations and a deflated sense of self-worth and fulfillment.

Satisfying Our Needs

So, during the holiday season, and at any time really, what DOES satisfy the most profound need of our souls?

For anyone in recovery from an eating disorder, we’ve come to learn that it is not food, exercise, praise from others or material things… even though the stimulation of these may satisfy a momentary craving.

We pursue something deeper, more meaningful, which transcends the present moment. We search for an inner peace: something to depend on when the world around us fails so utterly in meeting our expectations.

The process of recovery, of healing, of restoration, is the gift that keeps on giving: through the holiday season and beyond.


Take a moment during Christmas and New Year’s to stop, be mindful of how far you’ve come on the journey, and make a physical list, if need be, of all you have overcome.

That recognition and reflection will be a better gift than any you could receive that comes in a box, a bag, or any other beautiful wrapping.

Because putting yourself first and honoring your recovery leads to a kind of soul-satisfaction that brings the lasting comfort and peace that a new sweater, pair of socks or even a diamond ring could not.

Recovery, and discovering a new sense of self, is all anyone could and should want for Christmas.

Christmas ornament heartWherever you may be on the journey when December 25th and January 1st arrive, be thankful, accept the process, and recommit to taking the next step forward, whatever that may mean for you.

Remember that there is a God in heaven who will never forsake you, no matter how many times you’ve fallen and risen again. He loves you so much that He sent His Son to earth, on what we now celebrate as Christmas Day, to reconcile us to God and bring us everlasting peace.

With that kind of love, forgiveness, and grace, what more could we long for during the holiday season? Recovery and discovery take time, but you, and God, are on the journey together: hand in hand, arm in arm, and you are never alone.

He has brought peace on earth and goodwill to all.

Kirsten+Haglund+HeadshotAbout the author: Kirsten Haglund continues to work as an advocate for greater awareness of eating disorders and resources for care. Since she won the crown of Miss America 2008, she has spoken on numerous college campuses, worked with youth and church groups domestically and abroad, lobbied Congress with the Eating Disorders Coalition, and started her own non-profit, the Kirsten Haglund Foundation, to raise funds and assist families financially in seeking treatment for eating disorders. She is also the Community Relations Specialist for Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on December 26, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on December 26, 2017.
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