Facing and overcoming an eating disorder is tough no matter what time of year it is. This time of year, however, can seem especially overwhelming because there is food everywhere. People bring in cookies, cakes, and lunches of all sorts to our offices. We have parties and church events, and family dinners to think about. It can seem like we are being haunted by enemy number one for weeks on end. We do, however, have what it takes to be successful during the more challenging moments. Here are just a few ideas.
- Prioritize recovery. This is hard enough to do in a normal season, but it is what will get you through all the bumps no matter when they happen. Why are you in recovery? Take some time to reflect on that during this season. Recovery is worth it. It’s worth the hard work. Remind yourself of that. Often. Especially when you don’t feel like it.
- Acknowledge it’s tough. When you’re recovering from an eating disorder holidays where food is the focus can be really, really hard. This is a great time to engage your support group and share how you’re feeling. Is there a work party coming up and you’re anxious about what will be served and how you’ll do? Is there a family dinner and maybe your family is one, giant trigger? Tell those you’ve enlisted to help you. Asking for support is strong and courageous and will help you get through those tough moments.
- Stick to your meal plan. ED seems to yell the loudest when we try to stick to meeting our needs and not using behaviors. We don’t have to listen to him – he doesn’t have to have an invitation to the party, so to speak. Use the skills you’ve learned to tolerate strong emotions and urges and take a deep breath. Does meditation help you? Do that. How about writing/journaling? Do that. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself.
- Give yourself grace. If you didn’t do a great job of meeting your needs (or completely blew it) at one meal, all is not lost. It’s one meal. Or one snack. There are many, many more opportunities to meet your needs in a healthy way. Use the same skills you used to help you stick to your meal plan to help you move through the times it doesn’t go as well. Remember, this isn’t a race. This is recovery and it happens the way it happens, one meal and moment at a time.
- Focus on the non-food aspects of the holidays. Be present in the moment with friends and family. Go for walks and breathe in that crisp winter air (or warm summer air, depending on where you live!). Look at the Christmas lights on houses and businesses and think about how they twinkle in the night. Breathe deeply and enjoy the magic of this time of year.
ED doesn’t have to own your holidays. You can have a wonderful and joyous holiday season. I believe in you!
If you are struggling with an eating disorder (or think you might be) there is help. You do not have to go it alone or stay stuck forever. Feel free to reach out to me and I will help you find the right resources for your needs.