Christmas with an eating disorder: Try a little mindfulness
This is the fifth of a five-part series in dealing with an eating disorder over the Christmas period. Throughout this post, we refer to an eating disorder as ED. In the final part of the series, we talk about practising mindfulness as a way to get you through Christmas when dealing with ED.
There’s a lot of talk these days about mindfulness, but what is it exactly?
As far as I understand it, mindfulness is conscious action. So when you are walking, you walk. When you are listening, you listen. When you are eating, you eat.
No judgement. No added story.
Honestly, I find mindful eating most challenging of all.
When I’m eating, yes my mouth is chewing, my throat is swallowing, but my mind is elsewhere:
“Is this too much? Or not enough? How many calories are in this I wonder? Will I put on weight? What am I going to have for dessert???” etc. etc.
The trouble with this kind of thinking is:
a) You are not actually enjoying the food
b) These thoughts lead you to feel either feel guilty, overeat without realising, or both
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Idea 1: Say ‘thank you’ for your food before you eat.
This turns eating into an act of gratitude.
“Look, I am here. I am alive. I have a plate of food to gently nourish my precious body. This food will strengthen me and allow me to do other things I enjoy. Thank you!”
This way, food can be seen in a friendly light. Something to enjoy and appreciate.
Idea 2: Check in with your body.
Your body is an infinitely wise thing... we just have to listen to it.
Ask yourself as you are eating: do I like this? What does it feel like in my body? Does my body like it?* Do I want more? Or is this enough?
This way I find it easier to stop when I’m full or keep going even when ED is slamming the brakes.
Now my body chooses. Now I am in control.
The last thing I want to say is not to get angry with yourself if you can’t think this way straight away. I’ve been practicing this for a year and a half now and my brain still drifts off into ED-land occasionally.
Habits don’t change overnight. But they do evolve over time if you practice them consistently.
So don’t judge yourself. Push your mind to the positive. And breathe. It’s all going to be fine.
And since this is the last post of the series, I want to take this opportunity to thank you. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these words as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. It has been tremendously healing for me to share this with you. I truly wish from the bottom of my heart that they help you in some way.
Trust yourself. You are strong.
Have a very merry Christmas, my beautiful soul.
*Don’t ask ED this. (ED doesn’t like anything)
Written by Victoria Hodder.