Living With an Eating Disorder - A Christmas Survival Guide Part 2
The festive period can be difficult if you are struggling with disordered eating. Laura gives some tips about how she copes with Christmas whilst living with an eating disorder. Read part one here.
Lots of people with eating disorders dread the festive season because of the focus on food. I know I do. Like I said in the previous post I am very lucky to have understanding family and friends, but I still get anxious and panic about it.
So here is what I’m planning to do to get through it. I’m going to stick as much as possible to my usual food and fluid intake. I will face situations as they arise, like if someone offers me a chocolate or something - if at that moment I feel able to have it, I will. If I don’t, I won’t panic about it. (I can spiral into guilt and worry that I’ve offended the person, that I’m not trying hard enough, that it still “counts” in my calories intake because it was offered...) I'll try my best not to let that happen.
I’ll be at my mum and dad’s a lot over Christmas and New Year, so I’ll take my “safe” foods and drinks with me, but they know what they are too so will no doubt have bought them...as I said, I’m lucky. I know on Christmas Day I’ll be able to eat or not eat what I choose, so I’ll have my usual stuff (and maybe parsnips because I actually love parsnips).
Because we’ve had lots of Christmases already with me being “a bit weird with food” this is expected. If it is the first time you’ll be with family or friends and they don’t know you have an eating disorder, try and speak to them and discuss what you are comfortable with and what you aren’t.
Try and find someone who knows your limits and can help you escape situations you aren’t comfortable in, or to divert attention away from you, as they can help you feel more relaxed around groups of people. If you have a meal plan, let them know it. There have been times when I’ve had a friend come to the toilet with me when I’ve eaten when I’ve been struggling with the urge to make myself sick after eating, or to speak to me while I use the bathroom and that’s helped me too.
Basically, find an ally or supporter and tell them what you need them to do. If you know someone who might struggle over the festive period, speak to them now and ask what you can do to help them manage it. Talk and plan.
And as I said in the previous blog post, look after you. Make a list of things you enjoy doing, things that relax you, things that distract you, and make sure you’ve got lots of things around that are helpful to you. I will have my breathing doll gif on my phone, I also use buddhify (which costs some money) and I've just discovered audiobooks so I’ve a few to listen to.
The main thing is to breathe and try to trust and enjoy the season, if possible. And remember it’ll be January soon and another whole 12 months until it happens again! I’m trying to keep reminding myself this...
Why not look at some of the other eating disorder information of our site, including how to look after a friend with an eating disorder, as well as a doctors advice on eating disorders.
Or why not check out some of Laura's other blog posts?