Nightmarish temptations and sensations of guilt
Obviously, for many, if not most individuals, the holidays are a difficult time when dealing with the temptation of food. During the holidays it is socially accepted and expected that all will eat, drink, and be merry. However, it is a much more difficult time of the year for individuals who have an eating disorder. Individuals with eating disorders encounter nightmarish temptations and sensations of guilt if they “give in” to their disorder specific behaviors. The UNC School of Medicine eating disorders team has some good suggestions for individuals coping with eating disorders during the holidays:
— Have a “wing man” someone you trust to help run interference at family get-togethers or office parties. This should be someone who knows your triggers and can help distract you from temptations (or someone pushing your buttons), change the subject or assist you while you handle the stress.
— Make up a code signal or phrase with the wingman before going to the holiday party. If you start to feel overwhelmed give your friend the signal so that you can both step out of the room and they can offer you some support.
— Keep your support team on speed dial and call them at any time during or after a party. Talking relieves the pressure. You’re not overburdening them. They will undoubtedly have stories to share, too.
— Potlucks are your friends. Don’t hesitate to take a food you prepared that feels safe enough to you so that you will have at least one manageable entrée.
— Lavish holiday spreads don’t have to be the enemy. If faced with one, channel your inner Boy Scout or Girl Scout skills and be prepared! Before stepping in line, and before getting a plate, evaluate the options. Mindfully consider which foods you’ll sample, portion sizes and whether you feel comfortable trying a “feared food.” Make a decision and stick with it!
— If your treatment team has given you a meal plan stay on track so you aren’t starving when you get there.
— Listen with your heart, not your head. Hear the happiness and caring in a person’s tone when they tell you that you look “so much better.” They are saying they care about you. Don’t let the eating disorder lead you to misinterpret those words in a way that deprives you of hearing that people really care about you.