Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Stay Balanced And Eating Disorder Free During The Holidays.

The Holidays are a hard time of year to keep that balance of "staying fit" and also "indulging in the season's special treats." It's even harder when you add in the factor of recovering from an eating disorder. Family recipes, pumpkin pie, gingersnaps, mashed potatoes, hot chocolate, stuffing, and all the options on Thanksgiving... there are so many more opportunities to indulge in amazing (but nonetheless more indulgent) food!

I was inspired to write about this topic after reading a post by my sweet friend Julia, "How to Survive The Holidays With an Eating Disorder." She said  so perfectly everything I was feeling. She has a way with words I only wish I could have, so I just wanted to give her a little shout out! :)

I also found this great article  from Huffington Post about how to host a Thanksgiving that supports Eating Disorder Recovery. I loved everything they said, and I'm glad to see awareness of the issue around the holidays being spread!

I started to think about my past holiday seasons spent with the monster of an eating disorder controlling every decision about food that I made, what I've learned, and what I would tell my younger self or anyone going through the same struggle.

I will say now, that of course I have my "hard days"... but I am at my healthiest mentally and physically that I have ever been. I feel like I can give my insight and advice genuinely. I actually take my own advice and practice what I preach. If I had tried to write this post a year or two ago, I feel like I'd be being fake--preaching balance while still struggling so much on the inside myself.

The holidays can be a struggle for many kinds of eating disorders--not just the restrictive type. Being surrounded by delicious food can be triggering for someone with BED (Binge Eating Disorder) because they feel like they can't simply "have a little bit of pie" without being triggered to binge. I have friends in my personal life that have dealt with BED and it's amazing how we can relate now to the struggles even though our types of eating disorders were different.

Allow yourself to indulge in holiday recipes.

Like Julia said in her post, I would spend hours scrolling through Pinterest drooling over the delicious holiday recipes, that I would hope to allow myself to enjoy, but secretly knowing I never would. And then if I did indulge, I would feel so guilty and try to burn it off the next day. What I like to do now, is pick some healthier treats to make so I can enjoy them without any feelings of guilt. That being said, I'm still working on having a spontaneous cookie or piece of pie without guilt, but the thing is--I'm working on it.

Find healthy recipes you truly enjoy and that satisfy your tastebuds and soul. And then, let yourself have your favorite classics--like your mom's Magic Cookie Bars (my personal fav).

I vividly remember one year being so restrictive leading up until Christmas day because I told myself I was going to indulge in the food "without guilt" only if I was "extra good" with my diet leading up to it. Now for someone who doesn't have a past struggle with food, it can be a totally healthy mindset to eat a little cleaner leading up to a more indulgent day of eating. But someone who does have a past struggle with food, it just sets you up for disordered thoughts and behaviors.

Don't restrict your body, respect your body.

Try to eat normally (maybe a little bit lighter, but nothing extreme) even when you know you'll be having some richer food during the day. Never starve yourself during the day, just because you're planning on having a cheat meal at night. That just sets you up to over eat and feel guilty later. I like to focus on higher protein and veggie filled meals that will keep me full and my metabolism burning before I have a big indulgent meal.

Lastly, I wanted to say that you don't have to be so hard on yourself. I used to feel like I wasn't "recovering from my eating disorder" if I didn't make myself have a treat. I felt obligated to prove to myself an my family that I was "strong", that I was "normal." What? Why? Normal people pass up pie if they don't feel like it, so why can't I? The thing to realize is you have to decipher when your eating disorder is telling you not to eat something because it's "fattening" or when your body simply doesn't feel like it. If I feel like having an extra piece of pie just because it tasted so good, I'm going to allow myself to. If I feel to full after Thanksgiving dinner, and want to skip pie, I'm going to allow myself too. It will be there later. If I over eat and feel full and bloated, I'm not going to beat myself up over it. If I wake up feeling anxious, I'm going to allow myself to feel anxious. But I will not allow those feelings to take away from the joy of spending time with friends and family. When I start to feel anxious and those disordered thought creep in, I don't ignore them and push them away. I pray. I pray to God to help me work through those feelings, see where they are coming from, and go about my day with peace and Him by my side when I'm faced with a challenge. Shoving your feelings away only makes them come out stronger later. Just stop, acknowledge the feelings, breathe, and pray. 

My goal this coming year is to take care of myself mind, body and spirit. Being healthy is not just about eating well and working it out. It's about being happy, loving, being present, spending time with your friends and family, being confident, and doing what works for you! I hope you all find your balance, and have a great holiday season filled with friends, family, and yummy food!

1 comment:

  1. As someone who has suffered with anorexia and bulimia, my advice is to be accountable, not only to yourself, but also a trusted friend. Eat as normally as possible, and sample the fun holiday foods. But, write down what you eat and share it with your buddy. Talk through the difficult food situations as well.

    Margaretta Cloutier @ Aspire Wellness Center