Christmas is supposed to be the happiest time of the year and the abundance of food everywhere actually verges on gluttony, but for anyone suffering from an eating disorder it’s a time of high stress. In fact, holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving (if you celebrate that), and Easter are actually scary and are something someone with an eating disorder dreads because it means having to face food. For these holidays, meals together are an important family tradition so that can make it all the more daunting. Here’s what it’s like surviving Chrsitmas with an eating disorder.
For anyone who doesn’t have these issues it probably sounds illogical, because you wont gain 5 pounds from one meal, but your eating disorder makes you think otherwise.
I’ll even admit that I’m stressed because of Christmas, but I’m coping with it better than before.
For those surviving Christmas with an eating disorder
For anyone suffering, try to remember how awful it feels to be depriving yourself of food or purging/taking laxatives; you have no energy, always have a headache, feel weak or faint etc. I’ve had phases where all my clothes have been falling off me and nearly fainting in work so I know what it’s like. I’ve also avoided going out or spending time with people for fear of having to eat, and ’tis the season of family gatherings so try to keep in mind that you’ll be missing out if you avoid spending time with others. Feeling that awful is not worth being “skinny”, and being “skinny” wont make you happier, if anything it will just make you miserable. I understand that it is a massive struggle though, but I encourage anyone suffering to mind themselves over the holidays. Your body needs love and nourishment and I hope you give it that.
For loved ones
If you know someone with an eating disorder please don’t tell them things like they’re being difficult or “ruining Christmas” because they may not have eaten the Christmas dinner you slaved over in the kitchen all day. Understand that it is a very stressful time, and they don’t mean or want to be a burden. Be calm, and encouraging. I’ve been more likely to eat if someone simply tells me that I need food, makes it, but isn’t forceful. I understand that you might be worried too and it could come across as anger, but I think patience is key here. Don’t comment on their weight but if they look better go for something along the lines of “you look so healthy” instead of “you gained weight” because saying that just causes panic and can trigger restricting again. Don’t say “wow you’re eating so much/little”.
Trying to recover from an eating disorder is the scariest thing in the world. For many it’s a coping mechanism for when you feel like you don’t have control over yourself and life, so recovery also means facing other issues too. There’s also the fear of weight gain, I once felt that gaining the slightest bit of weight was terrifying but when I did I found that it wasn’t the worst thing ever, and physically I felt miles better. Talk to friends, family, and mental health professionals about how you feel, try to “challenge” your eating disorder and remember that food is meant to nourish you; it’s not the enemy. Your “eating disorder voice” is not telling you the truth so remind yourself of that, try to see a professional if possible.
Mind yourself, and I hope you make the best of the holidays, and know that surviving Christmas was an eating disorder is hard, but not impossible. I beleive in you.
If you’re struggling with surviving Christmas with an eating disorder, reach out to services such as Bodywhys.