Let’s be honest, eating disorders are annoying little shits all year round, but the festive season has got to be the roughest road of all; they don’t exactly switch off just because its the 25th December. Approaching my eighth Christmas with an ED, in recovery or otherwise, I thought I’d share some of my key ‘survival tips’ for the day of excess for anyone out there struggling with anorexia, bulimia, BED or EDNOS.
#1 Make a meal plan, but don’t stick to it religiously
The best way to fail is to fail to prepare. In my experience, you’re always best to make a meal plan in advance, ideally with someone you trust who will be there for Christmas dinner with you. For many people without eating disorders, Christmas is a time where mealtimes don’t exist and the day consists of round the clock snacking, but that can be dangerous for us, so be sure to plan 3 meal’s as you always should to keep a consistent body clock and avoid being caught out. However, if the quality street gets passed around, or you fancy a second serving of roasties or a third mug of mulled wine, don’t let the strictness of a meal plan restrict you, just mindfully accept that Christmas is often about spontaneously.
#2 Remember, calories don’t count on Christmas
Step away from the calorie counting app! Seriously, though, its a bad enough habit as it is without the indulgence of Christmas food getting you down; just enjoy, and remember that even if you feel uncomfortable with the numbers you perceive to be on your plate, one day of slight overeating won’t magically make you double in size overnight, and no one else is thinking about that, because Christmas should be about love and joy, not nutritional information.
#3 Focus on others, not yourself
The look on your wee cousins face as he unwraps that monster truck toy, the joy your Grandma gets from being surrounded by family, the red tinge on everyone’s cheeks after a few too many Baileys… the simple pleasures of Christmas always involve those around you. With an eating disorder, it can be easy to slip into your own thoughts and get consumed by the busy inner workings of your brain, but the more you focus on those around you; family, friends, loved ones, the more those bad thoughts will begin to melt away.
#4 Alcohol can be a helping hand
Not that I am in any way saying that a wee tipple or two should be a certified eating disorders coping tactic, but once the bubbles get flowing, I always find my tensions about food loosen up, and Christmas is the perfect time to enjoy a glass with the people you love.Remember though, if you’ve had problems with alcohol abuse in the past, definitely stay away from the sweet stuff, or speak with a trusted friend in advance of the event to help you stay under control.
#5 Avoid social media at all costs
Finally, my number one tip for coping with eating disordered thoughts and behaviours at Christmas is to totally avoid social media. From pictures of other people’s food to compare portion sizes to, and seeing rich influencer’s hauls of swag and feeling inadequate, our news feeds can quickly turn a perfect day into an unbearable one, so log out of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and stick to socialising in real life, no filters.
I hope you found these tips helpful, whether you’re an ED sufferer yourself or will be hosting one for dinner this Christmas. Let me know if you have some helpful advice of your own to share, and good luck!
Ruth @ Urbanity xxx