Christmas with an eating disorder: Just say no

This is the third 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 third part of the series, we discuss how to establish just saying nowhen dealing with ED during Christmas. 

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Establishing boundaries is vital.

“NO I don’t want a second portion, thanks.”

“I see you’ve made these biscuits especially for me. But NO, I don’t want them, thanks.”

“NO, I don’t want to go to the party, thanks for the invite.”

Learning how to be assertive was one of the key parts of my recovery. Like any typical anorexic, I played small, agreed, complied, ate the cakes and stayed quiet.

But sometimes what people believe is right for you really just isn’t.

Only you know what is right for you. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Doreen Virtue says assertiveness is a combination of honesty and love. In other words, it is possible to be open about our needs without attacking the other person.

In fact, when you say NO politely, the vast majority will respect that.

But how does this work on a practical level?

First (with your buddy) establish how far you are willing to go. For example, showing the portion size you can physically eat. Or, share when you are most likely to binge and ask them to help you to say NO to the voices inside that are screaming MORE!

Practice saying NO to well-meaning loved ones. You could even do a mock role play until saying NO politely and comfortably comes naturally.

At the same time, be flexible with your boundaries. If you said you would go to that party, but on the night, you’d much rather be curled up with Love Actually, say NO.

And say NO to ED. Observe when that voice sneaks in telling you what to do or what to eat. Find your voice. Don’t let ED hold the stage in your own head. Have a dialogue. Write it down if you like, but don’t let ED hold the pen.

Ultimately, establishing boundaries is all about staying in contact with what you want, which means staying in contact with yourself. Not ED, not your family, you.

So what do you want from this Christmas?

Find out now, so that when the time comes, standing your ground becomes that much easier.

Written by Victoria Hodder.

You can see more of Victoria’s work on her blog here and check out her Instagram for confidence advice and quirky doodles!