Christmas can be a stressful time for anyone, but even more so for someone with an eating problem or body image issues. Forget about the mad panic to get presents and ensuring the day runs smoothly, for people who struggle with an eating disorder and/or body dysmorphia it can be one of the most difficult times of year. Since I have experience with the former, I thought I would share a few tips to help you through this holiday season.
IT’S ONE DAY
This is something that is easier said than done, but try and just loosen, or let go of altogether, your rules on the 25th. For the past two years I have tried my best to allow myself this one day ‘off.’ I can promise you that one day isn’t going to change anything. You’re not going to suddenly pile on the pounds. I had been severely underweight on the past couple of Christmases and yes, I still had that fear of my weight shooting up, but guess what? It didn’t.
CHRISTMAS EVE & BOXING DAY?
Okay, so the majority of the population begin eating anything and everything on Christmas Eve and will continue to do so on Boxing Day. If you think you can challenge yourself and ‘break the rules’ for this three day period then that’s great, but don’t feel obliged to if it will lead you to stress out. Nobody wants to breakdown in tears during Christmas. However, I cannot emphasis this enough – DO NOT RESTRICT! Don’t fall into the trap of limiting your daily intake before and after the 25th. If need be, eat what you feel comfortable with, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself further. You have to test the water in recovery and what better time to do it than during the best time of year?
So, you’ve devoured your turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes & veg and now it’s onto dessert. Two years ago I was in the depth of my eating disorder and despite challenging myself a few times on Christmas Day, when it came to dessert I was incredibly anxious. Instead of making a huge fuss and breaking down, I asked my parents if I could have something different for dessert – something I would find a bit easier. I had a banana coated in yogurt and even though I now look back and think ‘DAMN, what a waste of an opportunity to indulge even more,’ at the time it allowed me to avoid feeling like absolute crap for the rest of the day. I encourage you not to substitute everything – try your hardest to join in with your family for the most part – but remember there is the option to have something a bit ‘safer’ should it feel too much.
Finally, and most importantly, just have fun! Food is a huge part of Christmas but I wouldn’t say it’s the primary factor of the day. Spending time with your family and/or friends is what it’s all about. I know it will be hard – I’ve been there – but this one day out of the 365 in total isn’t going to make any difference despite what your head might be telling you.
Stay safe, enjoy yourself and have a very merry Christmas!