Happy Holidays! I mean, Happy Halloween! I know that some of you will argue that Halloween is not really a holiday, but our consumer driven culture seems to suggest otherwise. The Halloween candy has been visible in stores since early September and just this morning I saw my first aisle of Christmas decorations at a local pharmacy. As much as I love the planning, decorating, and celebrating associated with holidays, they are difficult for me and for many people who have struggled with disordered eating.
Holidays usually mean easier access to food we might otherwise “forbid” ourselves from eating. They can mean interactions with family members we are either ambivalent about or downright bothered or hurt by. We almost always find ourselves assuming our former roles (as peacemaker, class clown, scapegoat, or curmudgeon) and it can be difficult to remain emotionally present due to the barrage of negative self-talk inside our heads: “Don’t eat that! You’ll get fat! Oh, okay. Go ahead. Oh! You didn’t! You idiot. You never should’ve eaten that. You’ll have to work extra hard at the gym tomorrow. But, since you ruined yourself with this one food, you might as well eat whatever you want for the rest of the day.” Yes, “overwhelmed” is a mild word to describe how I have felt on many holidays. However, since recovering from Binge-Eating Disorder, I no longer feel overwhelmed (well, at least not for the entire holiday!).
This morning my parents (planners extraordinaire) emailed my brother and I with some proposed Thanksgiving and Christmas plans. I was shocked out of my autumn reverie into realizing that Thanksgiving is less than four weeks away and Christmas just a month after that. I don’t know which celebrations I’ll participate in and which ones I’ll skip in order to start some new traditions of my own. But I do know that I’ll have people to celebrate with. I’ll also be able to fight off that negative self-talk, eat some food I don’t normally eat, and stay emotionally present with loved ones thanks to many years of practice and self-care that led to recovery.
Recovery from disordered eating is a long journey. Don’t get discouraged or thrown off by the holidays. Instead, see them as an opportunity to confront that inner critic and practice healthy self-care. Send me an email if you want more information about how to do that: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace, joy, and healthy holidays,