4 Methods To Survive Holidays With An Eating Disorder
EXCITEMENT OF CHRISTMAS
Christmas has always been my favourite holiday. I love getting to spend time with family I rarely get to see during the year and being around family friends. I don’t come from a large family that gets to see relatives often because of the distance of travelling between us; so when I do get the chance I am so excited! My mom makes pies for dinner each year on Christmas Eve, and then we share a huge turkey dinner on Christmas Day with family and friends. We have just made it a tradition in recent years to have Tiramisu Christmas Day along with the usual platter of cookies and fresh baked sweets. Christmas for me also involves the tradition of getting Terry’s Chocolate Orange, which as a kid I would have devoured the second I got it.
MY EATING DISORDER vs. CHRISTMAS
But, unfortunately in the past couple years, Christmas was not all so joyful, nor was it something that I looked forward too. Rather, Christmas gave me anxiety and caused me to panic more than anything. All because my eating disorder caused me fear of having to eat around others. Relatives and family friends obviously noticed how thin I was and definitely had an idea of what was going on. They were going to notice that my plate was very bare compared to when I would typically load food onto my plate, and I was going to have to sit through the discomfort of being hungry but not wanting to eat for a long period of time. I would also have to sit there with eyes of worry falling upon me and my half empty plate of food every so often.
I think I can speak on behalf of every single person, suffering from disordered eating, by saying that Christmas is the most difficult time of the year. Nothing could possibly be more stressful to us than food, family and both of them put together at once. We become so used to isolating ourselves and avoiding eating with family and friends that this causes a huge impact on our mental health.
WAYS TO EASE INTO THE HOLIDAY SEASON
In order for those recovering from eating disorders and anorexia to be able to enjoy Christmas and get into spirit like they used too, I have made a list of ways to help you ease into the Holiday season – especially for those early in their recovery.
- Speak Up
Speak to your family ahead of time and let them know how your feeling about Christmas events that will be taking place. Don’t pretend that everything is fine. Are you worried about all the food options not being entirely in your comfort zone? Do you worry people will make comments that your looking better? Is there a fear that people are going to stare at you during meal times? Make sure you address these things so that your family can mention ahead of time to others your situation and how you wish to be out of a topic of conversation.I hated going to events and having people tell me to eat more, or tell me that I was looking better. My recovery is MY recovery, not anyone else’s. I did not need others telling me how much I should eat more, nor did I want their input so early into my recovery.
- Positive Affirmations
Tell yourself, ‘In the long run, this is going to help me.’ and remind yourself that it is okay to be scared. By being involved in these situations it is going to help you cope better with similar future events. Your going to have to get used to it eventually… so why not start now?
- DO NOT Avoiding Eating During the Day
Your setting yourself up for failure or for possible binge eating later that day. You could possibly become overwhelmed when it is time for a large meal because of how empty your stomach is versus how scared you are to be eating such large meal portions at once. Make sure you are eating regularly throughout the day leading up to Christmas dinners. You’re only cheating your recovery by restricting your eating during the day; it is still possible that you may end up only eating a comfortable portion at the meal and be behind on your recovery ‘calories’ for the day.
- Remember… Christmas is not about the food, but, rather about spending time with those you may hardly ever get to see. These are the moments you want and need to be present for in life. Do not live with the regret of being absent at these times in the future.
HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS!