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Surviving Christmas

Posted By Josephine  

Working towards recovery from disordered eating or an eating disorder can be hard enough without being faced with holidays based around food!

 

Christmas is a time of celebration, family and friends and while this can be a lovely time this can also increase eating anxieties.

 

For some, Christmas and family time may be the triggers that cause you to want to use the ED behaviours to have a sense of safety and control.

 

Families and family relationships are difficult and that is ok. It is ok to love your family and want to spend time with them and feel triggered at the same time.

 

Spend some time talking with your treatment team about the best way to manage the situation for your circumstances – to determine which boundaries you need to insert and protect for your own safety and wellbeing.

 

Self Care

Your wellbeing and safety are most important. It is ok to say no to situations and requests that make you uncomfortable and may be possibly triggering.

 

This can be hard, and if you can make a plan with your team about how to look after yourself during the holiday time and put in place boundaries with people around you that you need it with.  

 

This may include mundane self-care like sticking to medications, appointments, a regular schedule at home, staying in contact with people, planning, and journaling.

 

And it may include some more nourishing activities to help manage anxiety like Netflix, meditation, mindfulness/ home yoga practice, hot/ cold shower etc.

 

Managing Diet Talk

 

Celebration meals can be a time when peoples anxieties about food and body are apparent even if they don’t have an eating disorder or are aware of their own issues; that’s diet culture for you!

 

You may observe more comments focused on bodies, dieting, self-deprecation, food, over-indulging and shame. People often feels so overwhelmed about their own bodies and have a fear of "losing control" that they are not even aware that their comments have a negative impact or may be triggering for other people.

 

Sometimes these comments can be more overt and direct.

 

To save  reinventing the wheel, see these articles:

 

Surviving the Holidays: Setting Boundaries Around Body Talk

How to deal with diet culture at holiday gatherings

 

Eating at Functions:

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day are all just another day.  Aim to eat on these days as you would any other day – sticking to your meal plan if that is a tool you have been using with your dietitian.

 

If you usually have a sandwich for lunch and a hot meal at dinner – then swap them over have a hot Christmas lunch and a sandwich at dinner.  Or remember to go back to your plan and focus on having the correct serves of each food group on the plate.

 

It may be helpful to serve up your plate at the beginning of your meal with appropriate serving sizes - in place of picking at different dishes.  This way you will know that you have had enough, not too much, not too little.

 

If picking at leftovers triggers feelings of being out of control, or can trigger a binge, then ask if the food can be served from a separate table or bench so it isn’t in the middle of the table while you eat. If this isn’t possible, try and position yourself at the table in a way to prevent this behaviour, moving your chair back, sitting with a trusted friend or family member, putting your serviette on your plate to signal that you are done.

 

It is normal to some days eat more and some days eat less.  Christmas time is a time when there may be eating more days – there is no need to compensate, trust your body to look after its self.

 

There will be different foods around such as cakes, biscuits and puddings, try and include them as part of your meals and snacks. If you are not sure how, then make a plan with your dietitian prior to Christmas about how these may fit in to your current eating routine.

 

If you are feeling anxious, talk to your family about this and ask for some extra support. Perhaps discuss this with them the week or day before how you plan on coping with these challenging meals and what they can do to support you.

 

Have a few distractions or nourishing activities planned for each day that can help to relieve anxiety and nurture you.

 

If one meal or day of the festive season doesn’t go to plan, try to learn from this. What could you do differently next time? Then move on with the next meal or snack. Remember that this is when ‘all or nothing’ thinking can creep in.

 

Plan ahead!

 

We all love holidays, but they can also be a very challenging time when you are working on recovery from disordered eating or an eating disorder.

 

Often on holidays we get the free time we crave and dream about the rest of the year – but for people who struggle to relax and sit still, this can be very difficult to manage.

 

The other thing that can often happen when there is time off from work and study is boredom!

 

If we aren’t occupied it can leave room for the negative thoughts to creep in – and this often leads to ruminating on these thoughts – and them growing overwhelming and out of proportion!

 

The most important thing to enjoying holidays is to plan ahead. Make a schedule of your meal times and food choices (if this is helpful) as well as the activities you plan to do in-between each meal and snack.

 

You don’t have to perfectly stick to the plan but it does mean you have an ideas of what to do and that you have a plan to go to if you get stuck.

 

See below some possible distractions and planning sheets!

 

Distraction ideas

Bubble bath

Play with new hair styles

Massage

Sleep

At home facial/nails

Get dressed up

Burn candles/incense

Mindfulness CD

Relaxation activities/music

Sit in sun

Watch clouds

Walk in rain/watch thunderstorms

Board games

Hot / cold shower

Paper work/ forms

Bills/Tax

Food shopping

Make/attend appointments

School work/Library/Office works 

Call family and friends

Communicate

Organise activities

Send random cards

Vent frustration

Meals or snacks with friends

Movie/TV marathons with friends

Print all photos and put in albums/make photo books

Christmas crafts/ baking/card-making/ decorating

Reading books/magazines

Suduko/Solitaire

Online social networking/ emails/ researching/ games

Walk the dog

Puzzles/ crosswords

Finish a ‘to do list’

Meditate/Dance

Road trip

Knitting/Art/Painting

Baking

Listen/play music

Sit in/do garden

Movie/TV marathons with friends

Print all photos and put in albums/make photo books

Christmas crafts/ baking/card-making/ decorating

Reading books/magazines

Suduko/Solitaire

Online social networking/ emails/ researching/ games

Walk the dog

Puzzles/ crosswords

Finish a ‘to do list’

Meditate/Dance

Road trip

Knitting/Art/Painting

Baking

Listen/play music

Sit in/do garden

House work

o Dishes

o Beds

o Washing

o Vacuum

o Window washing

o Re-arrange furniture

o Bathrooms

 Spring cleaning

Organise garage sale

Go for a drive