Surviving The Holidays With An Eating Disorder
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Health and Wellness

Surviving The Holidays With An Eating Disorder

I promise, you can do this.

Surviving The Holidays With An Eating Disorder

The holidays: it’s the time of the year every one loves. Presents, spending time with loved ones, getting a nice break from work and school, and of course food. During the holidays people love to indulge themselves and eat those typical holiday dishes like: turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc. or if you’re Italian like me your family will always have a huge plate of lasagna on stand by. Food is one of the best parts of the holidays, but for those who suffer from an eating disorder, it’s a nightmare.

A while back I wrote an article discussing my years deteriorating from Anorexia, and I was approached by a friend not too long ago and asked how I got through the holidays when I was suffering. I thought about it for a while, and realized if there’s one person who needs some pointers, I bet there are others as well. I mean, I know I could have used some tips on how to make it through. It’s no secret the holidays are stressful, but for anyone with any type of mental disorder or anxiety, the holidays are a dreaded period of unwanted attention, uncomfortable encounters, and a whole lot of isolation. So in an attempt to try and help just one person, I am going to talk about my ways of coping with an eating disorder during the holidays. Just a disclaimer that these may not be the best ways or work for everyone, but they are what I did to make it through and I can proudly say I’ve been in recovery for about a year, eating every day and eating a lot! Just note,there were many many setbacks, a lot of hard work involved, and a lot of help from friends and family.

The first thing that I always tried to tell myself was to EAT. It’s harder than you think and for those who don’t suffer from an ED (eating disorder) just know that as much as we want to eat sometimes we just can’t. This is especially worse come the holidays when you have a larger number of people around you, who are looking at how much and what you are eating. There’s always that one relative who says something along the lines of “Why aren’t you eating? You’re too skinny! Put some more food on your plate!” These are the relative you want to avoid, but most likely won’t be able to. My suggestion? Lie. I know it’s unconventional, but you don’t need to explain yourself. You don’t want to eat too much because you’re not that hungry, you ate a big breakfast, you’re trying out veganism, it doesn’t matter what you say to them, it’s your business, no one else’s. That being said, you do need to try and eat something. Anything. Even if it’s just one spoonful of your favorite side dish or a small helping of salad, please please please, EAT SOMETHING.

It’s hard I know, and you might think you can’t do it, but I promise you, you can. You CAN take a bite of food and nothing bad is going to happen. You’re not going to gain a bunch of weight from eating a small portion of food. I constantly had to remind myself that everyone deserves to eat a little more on the holidays and if I over ate a little nothing was wrong with that. I wasn’t horrible for eating, I wasn’t a disgusting whale, even if I felt like it. I kept telling myself that it was all in my head. My mind was telling me these things and they weren’t true.

Once I did eat, my biggest problem was immediately leaving the scene. I’d take my plate, toss it, and b-line it for my room. I’d lay in my bed and think about how disgusting and sick I felt. Scientifically, the reason I felt this way was because if you don’t eat for a long time and then do eat, it messes your stomach up, but my mind was telling me I was sick and this food was going to make me sick and fat. So what did I do when I went to my room? It’s a technique most therapists and doctors use with kids, but this was something that still to this day works with me. Distractions. Easy enough right? I’d go up in my room and lay in a comfortable position. For me, this was piling up a bunch of pillows and resting my head up super high while laying on my back. I’d plug my laptop or phone in and watch a few episodes of my favorite show until I felt better. I’d watch something funny like Parks and Recreation or The Office to put me in a better mood and make me laugh. I’d get fully immersed in the show to get my mind off of how gross I felt. Now, for some of you, this may not be possible. Maybe you’re not able to run off to your rooms, so what do you do?

Stay with your family. You don’t know how many times I’ve forced myself to sit at a table after dinner and try extremely hard to immerse myself in a conversation. This was my distraction. Talk to your family members, listen to their stories, go for a short walk with someone. Try your best to stay at the table with your family and not leave. Ask someone to tell you stories, maybe even chime in and talk about something. It’s important that you try your best to PUSH AWAY THOSE THOUGHTS IN YOUR HEAD, because they’re NOT TRUE. Isolation may feel like the answer and if you feel like you have no choice, I suggest trying out my pillow fort and Netflix idea, but if you try to stay and talk, you’d be surprised at how well it works. I promise YOU WILL BE OKAY.

My therapist used to tell me to push myself and expose myself to the things I was afraid of. I’d laugh in her face because I thought she was crazy. This is what I’m paying you for? For you to tell me to do the exact thing I physically can’t do? No way. It seems impossible, and when I was at my lowest point there was no talking me out of situations. If I was set on not eating, I wasn’t going to eat and it didn’t matter who asked me. If I needed to be alone, I was locking my door and sitting in my room and if President Obama or Ellen Degeneres was in my house, well too bad because I wasn’t going to see them. (Okay, maybe I’d come downstairs for Ellen) but the point is, my mind won in these cases. I missed out on a lot of family events and memories because my mind took over.

Me against my mind. It was a battle I never thought I’d win, and if I’m being completely honest, I’m not sure I’ve won it entirely, but I’ve definitely come out on top for now. If there is one thing I can hope you get out of this, is that if you can’t win the little war over your brain this holiday, it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up because you couldn’t eat, don’t be upset that you had to isolate yourself from your family, they’ll understand. At the end of the day, our family wants what’s best for us and whether they know about your ED or not, if being alone in your room watching Parks and Rec helps you distract yourself from feeling yucky, then I say go for it. Sometimes we have to be selfish in order to get better. Sometimes we need to think about our needs first, especially when we suffer from diseases like Anorexia or Bulimia.

I sincerely wish you all the happiest of holidays. Don’t let your mind win this holiday season. You are so much stronger than you think. Tell your mind it’s wrong, tell it you know you’re going to be okay. Know that it is okay to eat something, even if it’s something small. Know it’s okay to take some time alone to regroup your thoughts. You’re not disgusting for taking a small bite of pie or cake or your grandma’s famous Christmas cookies. It is all going to be okay, because you’re beautiful and amazing, and so many people love you. If you need help, ask for it, this is the time of year when you get to see your family members, and they love you so so much. I want you all to know, if you’re reading this it’s going to be okay. I’ve spent many holidays thinking I’d never see the light, but if you keep reminding yourself that it’s going to get better, it will.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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