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*Trigger warning: This article addresses topics related to various eating disorders.

Having navigated through a decade of grappling with various eating disorders, I understand the formidable challenge that Christmas poses. For years, this time of the year held no positive connotations for me; it was a pitch black realm of anxiety and self-destructive thoughts. Discussing eating disorders is difficult due to their myriad variations, making it nearly impossible to approach without triggering someone. However, amidst the diversity of these disorders, it's crucial to recognize their common traits—they are all deceptive and dangerous. Being excessively "selective" with food or using eating as a means to cope with emotions are NOT personality traits; they are symptomatic of mental illness. Drawing from my experiences with anorexia, binge eating, and bulimia, this article aims to provide guidance for those currently battling such demons or supporting someone who is. May it serve as a handbook to ease the holidays. Take care <3


Source: @alvapoletti

Put All Cards on the (Dining) Table

Primarily, I believe the best advice I can offer is transparency. Despite potential struggles with your relationship to food, rest assured that you are not alone. The majority of people today contend with imperfect relationships with food and their bodies. Regrettably, one of capitalism's numerous downsides is its tendency to instill a perpetual sense of inadequacy—an issue deserving of its own discussion. Whether you are currently battling an eating disorder or someone around the table is, or even if you're uncertain about others' struggles, initiate a conversation. Urge everyone to conscientiously refrain from engaging in triggering behaviors. You might express it as follows:

"I would greatly appreciate it if we could refrain from discussing workouts or fasting in the days following Christmas as a means to compensate for food."

"I believe I speak for most of us when I say that minimizing talk about body image, the quantity of food, and extreme fullness during this holiday would contribute to a more positive atmosphere."

"Could we collectively agree not to comment on our own or each other's portion sizes—whether a plate is overflowing with food or nearly empty? We are all unaware of what someone else has consumed previously or plans to eat later."

"Let's make a collective effort not to pressure anyone into consuming more food. We're all well aware of the abundance available, and each of us is perfectly capable of helping ourselves."

Re-Ignite Your Childlike Wonder

A shared characteristic of all eating disorders is an excessive focus on food, particularly challenging during holidays when societal emphasis on food intensifies. While advising to shift focus might seem facile, I acknowledge it's easier said than done. My suggestion is to write a list of activities you enjoyed as a child during Christmas—moments when eating disordered thoughts were absent. Jot it down on paper, and you'll find that "eating" will likely be low on that list. Personally, even though I relished treats and food as a child, they were far from dominating my thoughts. Here is my list this year:

Grab a Bigger Plate

This simple technique has proven invaluable in navigating all three eating disorders. During my battle with anorexia, my primary fear centered around losing control the moment I started eating, leading to overeating, despite never having experienced a binge-eating episode before. Consequently, I would avoid eating as a way to maintain a (false) sense of control. However, by opting for a larger plate, pre-planning my meals, and arranging everything on a single plate, I gained a (once again false) sense of control. This allowed me to have a clear overview of all the food I was about to consume. It's important to note that this method isn't meant to challenge anorectic tendencies but serves as a short-term management strategy. Additionally, combining first, second, and third courses on one plate also proved beneficial in managing binge eating and bulimia. Having all courses together helped avoid revisiting the buffet table, a situation that often triggered binge-eating episodes.

Dress for Cozy Comfort

Embrace a balance between looking stylish and feeling comfortable. While there's no mandate against wearing fitted pants or dresses, if the sensation of snug clothing triggers destructive thoughts, I advise you to opt for comfort. You don't have to sacrifice your well-being for fashion—it's not worth it! Promise!!

Enjoy the Taste

This aspect might be the most challenging on on the list, especially if you've long associated food with feelings of shame and guilt. However, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. If you're interested in delving deeper into mindful eating and living, I recommend reading INTUITIVE SELF-CARE: 6 WAYS TO BECOME BETTER AT LISTENING TO YOUR BODY'S NATURAL SIGNALS, an article that I wrote some time ago.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and reminding you that you deserve love—not only from others but also from yourself <3


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