Christmas should be a happy time spent with family and friends, but for the past 6 years I’ve spent the entire festive period wishing it was over as quickly as possible. Constantly stressing, obsessing and planning how I’d still manage to control my food intake and get away with eating as little as possible. I didn’t enjoy the family parties, and I didn’t think of how much stress it was causing my family and friends because I was so focused on letting the eating disorder remain my priority. But this year is different and for all those out there who’s struggling too, this is how i’m going to do it:
- Be less involved
In years past I’d have to know EXACTLY what food was going to be there on christmas day, boxing day and the days leading up to it so I could plan it all in advance, but this year I’ve left the food shopping to my parents and chose not to go. This might not seem like a big deal, or that it would make much of a difference but CHOOSING not to stress over it, takes away the ability to over think everything.
- Focus on other things
Don’t make plans around food, be mindful of what and how you’re eating throughout the day but let it be a part of your day, not the centre of your decisions. This year I have ‘planned’ to go to my sisters house on xmas eve for a party-to drink, socialise, play games and watch christmas films; I have ‘planned’ to spend christmas day with my family and I have ‘planned’ to enjoy our annual family boxing day party-but i have not ‘planned’ what i will or will not eat on these days.
- Externalise your eating disorder
As weird as it sounds (and its a difficult concept to grasp when an eating disorders been part of you for so long) separate yourself from it. Think of it as a totally different entity to you who is not invited.
- Be spontaneous
Take the opportunity to challenge yourself outside you’re ‘normal’ routine. If your normal ‘rules’ are to have ‘x’ amount of set meals or snacks a day…listen to your hunger and your body..grab a quality street between meals, toast a marshmallow, have 4 big meals and the occasional chocolate/dessert instead of 6 little ones..whatever it is to challenge the disordered thoughts and integrate you into normality with what everyone else is doing. It might just show you the world won’t fall apart if you stray from you’re safe routine and you might just enjoy yourself.
- Keep things in perspective.
In my case, it’s 3 days out of my normal routine..not tracking food..not planning meals..just joining in with the festivities and eating mindfully and intuitively and ENJOYING my time with my family and friends. I know I won’t binge because that’s not something I struggle with and I don’t restrict myself enough anymore to feel the desire to do so..but even so, if I over indulged a bit ‘too much’ or just more so than usual, 3 days is not going to kill me.
- Do it for others
This has been the biggest help for me recently. If you’re struggling to do it for yourself, do it for your friends and family. Try and take a more relaxed approach to make THEM happy, to make THEM proud and to give THEM a stress free christmas that they deserve. Even in normal day to day life this has been the best thought process to keep me on track when I’ve been struggling – thinking of how pleased they’ll be to see me succeed when they try so hard to support and motivate me!
So with all that being said, try to enjoy yourselves this Christmas, do the best you can and don’t beat yourself up what ever happens!!
Lots of love,