For most people, Christmas means thrill, light, fun, nice things… but, when you’re recovering from an eating disorder, it’s one of the most dreaded times of the year. We see how we’re going to have to deal with too many things we can’t control, concentrated in very few days, and that generates anxiety. What am I going to eat? What triggering comments are people going to make? Am I going to have time to work out? What can I do if the thoughts are too strong and I panic?
Calm down. Take a deep breath. I understand those fears; last year, they got me trembling. Uncertainty made me be all day mulling over it, before and after the celebrations. In addition, the ED took advantage of that to play with my distortion and make me feel huge, so trusting was even more difficult.
We have to avoid that vicious circle of overthinking-weakening-being more prone to the thoughts-let the thoughts in-be anxious and desolated-relapse with sick behaviors. And it’s possible to do it. This year, I’m much less nervous thanks to, on the one hand, the progress of my recovery (the mind follows the body, it’s true!) and, on the other hand, to the systems I’ve learnt to put into practice.
You can learn them too and internalize them, if you follow the tips I’m going to tell you below and on next Tuesday’s post. But first, I invite you to read my previous post, “Merry and Healthy Christmas… in Body, Mind and Soul!” to find general tips, focusing on those related to mental and spiritual health. They’re complimentary and the foundation to be able to implement these new ones.
Challenge yourself during Advent
It’s a mistake to think that, since over Christmas time you’ll have to face many food challenges, you should save yourself for those and slacken off recovery during Advent. Don’t give in to that temptation. On the contrary, consciously set challenges, daily if possible. They don’t necessarily have to imply eating more. Some examples (it all depends on the guidelines of your treatment and the stage of recovery you’re at) could be:
- Replacing a safe snack with Christmas sweets. Bonus: adding.
- Purchasing an Advent calendar with chocolate.
- Going out to eat. Bonus: ordering a fear food.
- Letting your family cook a surprise meal without controlling how they do it. Bonus: not complaining, no matter what, when they give it to you. Don’t try to eat less of it either.
- Trying new ingredients.
- Daring to add sauces. Bonus: not light versions.
- Eating something without weighing or measuring it.
- Sitting for some time after eating. Bonus: 1 hour or more.
- Shortening even for 5 minutes your workout routine. Bonus: taking a spontaneous rest day.
- Watching a Christmas movie while sitting. Bonus: eating popcorn.
That way, you’ll be much more ready for the similar circumstances that you’re going to live during Christmas. You’ll already be accustomed to these things, and therefore they’ll be easier to manage. In addition, as you realize you don’t become fat overnight when you do those things, you’ll become more confident that you can do them and they won’t be so scary.