6 Reminders To Support Your Eating Disorder Recovery This Holiday Season
By Danielle Carney, LMHC
The holidays can be a really difficult time for those recovering from an eating disorder or struggling in their relationship with food and body image. If this sounds like you, I want you to know that you are not alone. With the holidays being so food-focused and being around family more than usual, it can be hard.
Though it doesn’t make it any easier to face, it can be helpful to understand that no one is immune to the impacts of diet culture and the heavy focus on food, weight, and appearance it brings, particularly around the holidays. It doesn’t make it okay or justify it, but I say this to humanize people still caught up in diet culture since a lot of the time, when people say damaging things, they just haven’t done their own work yet to do better. We have all been there at one point, myself included. It does not negate how frustrating it can be though!
With all of this being said, I hope to offer some helpful reminders to support your eating disorder recovery this holiday season.
Gentle Reminders to Support Your Eating Disorder Recovery
This time of year doesn’t have to bring you backwards. Preparing yourself mentally and emotionally, and going in with a mindset that supports the changes you’re trying to make in your relationship with food and your body is so important.
1. You are allowed to eat whatever you want and however much you want.
No one else has the experience of being in your body. They do not have access to your hunger or fullness cues, or your understanding of what your body needs. They do not know your cravings, energy needs, or how much you ate that day. You are the only expert on you.
2. No one has any say of how much you put on your plate but you.
Along the same lines, no one has permission to comment on the amount you are eating. If they do, you are allowed to set a direct boundary or to simply ignore them and affirm to yourself that it is entirely none of their business.
3. Eating is not a reason to feel guilty.
In the depths of disordered eating and dieting, it can feel like eating in general or eating certain foods is something to feel bad about. NO! It is necessary and healthy to eat regular meals with a variety of different foods. Our bodies need energy to function. Food gives us energy. You have complete and total permission to eat.
4. No food is “bad” of “off limits.”
Thinking this way is unfortunately so normalized and common, but we have to recognize that food is, in actuality, a neutral thing. Food is food. Food holds no moral value. There are no “good” or “bad” foods.
5. You do not need to compensate in any way for the food you eat, either before or after meals.
You do not need to restrict or skip meals leading up to a holiday meal, and you do not need to “burn it off” or “go on a diet” afterwards. You are allowed (and encouraged) to enjoy the food you eat without needing to punish yourself in some way. Food is meant to be enjoyed.
6. You do not need to like your body to take care of it and respect it.
How you feel about your body image does not dictate how much you get to eat on any given day. This is also true for the holidays. Your body deserves adequate nourishment and care. Eat like you would any other day and follow your meal plan if you have one. I’d also encourage you to make sure you’re eating at regular intervals to avoid restriction and/or potential binging later on.
(As a side note, I hope you can learn to like your body. Your body does so much for you. Your worth is not defined by how you feel about your appearance.)
Your Recovery Matters.
What else do you need to be reminded of this holiday season to support your eating disorder recovery? Write it down in a journal and be sure to read it over before holiday meals. This will help you keep your goals in mind.
If you’re looking for an eating disorder and body image therapist for some additional support to help you through this time of the year, you can reach out to me here.
Good luck out there! I’m rooting for you.