This week is American Thanksgiving which means lots of food, and lots of nosy relatives asking you insensitive and intrusive questions. If you are someone recovering from an eating disorder, any Holiday that is hallmarked by food can be difficult and triggering. When I was sick I definitely wanted to avoid these situations. But oftentimes you can’t and in truth you shouldn’t. The Holidays are not only about decadent food, they are also about taking the time to reconnect with your loved ones and enjoy each others company. It’s a shame to sacrifice that for any reason.
Here are a few tips I have for navigating this time – they can also be applied to any other time you are in a triggering or difficult food situation.
1 – Find a friend. Whether it’s a parent, cousin, sibling, or grandparent – find someone you trust who you can confide your fears to so you don’t feel isolated. Tell them you are recovering from an eating disorder. It is okay to let people in. There is no shame in what you are going through. This person can also hold you accountable and make sure that you eat – perhaps by filling their plate with the same food as you and having you both eat it together.
2 – DO NOT COMPENSATE. You don’t have to have a full on binge to have a successful Holiday, but if you do find that you eat an above average amount of food please remember that that is 100% NORMAL and you should not feel guilty, gluttonous, or sad. Food is yummy – holiday food is really yummy – and eating a lot of it is never wrong. That being said, do not eat less in preparation for this meal and do not eat less or nothing the next day in a compensatory way. Doing this not only sets your metabolism out of whack but also isn’t a healthy way of thinking about food and is a behavior you should be consciously working to correct anyways.
3 – When anyone makes a comment about your weight – positive or negative, do not internalize it. I know it can be hard to hear but others do not know what you are going through. I usually find that when someone is making comments on my weight or food choices it’s coming from a place of insecurity within themselves, which is sad but has nothing to do with you. Just try and remember that when it happens.
4 – Finally, be kind to yourself. I know that your disordered eating voice will be screaming at you when you face big fear foods, and you are so so brave for fighting through them in order to nourish yourself and enjoy your life. You can do this. You are strong and beautiful.
It isn’t easy to face your fears. It’s not silly or stupid to be afraid of a slice of pie, or helping of stuffing. However, it is irrational and counterintuitive so working through these fears is a must as you move forward in your recovery.
Have a happy Thanksgiving I hope you find these tips helpful! Let me know your favorite dish down in the comments! Mine is probably mashed potatoes, but my absolute favorite thing in the world is my mom’s apple pie.
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