Christmas with an eating disorder: Be prepared
This is the second 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 second part of the series, we talk through preparing for Christmas when dealing with ED.
In times of stress, it is the practical which helps us to move through. It allows us to feel empowered and a little more certain in uncertainty.
For that reason, planning will serve you well.
The first thing I suggest you do is write down all the things that scare you. For example:
– I will be forced to eat loads
– My eating times will be out of sync
– Once they open that sweet tin, I won’t be able to stop myself
Then for each worry you have, think of a solution. For example:
– Agree meal portions with family in advance
– Plan healthy snacks in between meals, keep mind occupied when you would normally be eating
– Draw up a meal plan and be kind to yourself if you don’t always follow it
I would also encourage you to share this activity with your ‘buddy.’ One because they will know more about you and when you will need the most support. Two, an ‘outsider’ can often see alternative ways to deal with our fears that we can’t think of.
Also, prepare for people’s comments. For example:
– “You look well”
– “That’s loads”
– “I’m stuffed”
I’m ‘recovered’ but these comments still make me cringe inside.
Last year when we came to sit down for Christmas dinner, my mum announced “Wow that’s loads!” It was like someone had slapped me into fatness. I froze, then left the table. I came back but only with ED singing the ‘you are soooo fat’ song in my ear.
I learned later that my mum’s comment wasn’t directed at me. But at the time, it came as a shock. I really wasn’t prepared for what other people might say and how my eating disorder would react to them.
In hindsight, then, I would have you know that these comments are not aimed at you. It may seem that family/friends are being insensitive or judgmental. Really they are just trying to help you at their level of understanding. A lot of the time they are actually trying to encourage you, though it may not seem that way at the time.
All the same, you can ask them to be sensitive. Explain how these comments translate for you and to avoid subjects such as food, body image or exercise. Most people will respect that and also you for being honest.
Written by Victoria Hodder.