Managing Christmas with an Eating Disorder
The festive period is a time for connection and celebration. But it can also be an isolating and anxiety-provoking time for some – including many people with eating disorders. It’s a period characterised by intense family time and social eating, soon followed by a barrage of ‘new year new me’ diet and exercise talk.
If the prospect of Christmas Day fills you with dread, here are some tips to make it a little more manageable:
If you know certain aspects of Christmas are going to stress you out, try to anticipate these stressors and see what you can do to prepare for them. If you can, try to communicate your fears to your family in advance of the day itself: be open about the things you’re worried about, any food requirements you may have and specific conversation topics that might make the day more difficult for you.
It’s perfectly normal to eat a bit more than usual over the Christmas period – our bodies are smart, they can handle it. You don’t need to compensate or plan your meals around it in any way - doing so will only harm your recovery and encourage a ‘binge-restrict’ mentality. You have unconditional permission to eat – this week, next week and every damn week.
If family time is difficult, set whatever boundaries you need to make this Christmas more manageable for you. Your mental health comes first.
Eyes on your own plate
Try not to let yourself get side-tracked by what other people are eating, or any diet culture talk that crops up over the dinner table. What anyone else eats or doesn’t eat has no bearing on what your body needs.
If this is a difficult time for you, try and be diligent about your self-care routine, whatever that looks like for you. Spend some time in nature, connect with people that make you feel supported, eat nourishing foods, and engage in activities that make you feel good.
2020 hasn’t been a normal year, and this isn’t going to be a normal Christmas. It’s more than okay if you don’t feel jolly and bright this Christmas. Try to offer yourself (and those around you) some extra compassion, and reach out for support if you need it.
Written by Tasha Kleeman