I have been wanting to discuss this topic for some time but have always steered away from it. I figured maybe once I have completely overcome it all and am no longer struggling in any capacity, I can open up and write about it. The thing is, recovery and progress aren’t always linear. I have struggled with disordered eating and though I have come a very long way from where I was, I still have a difficult relationship with food. I’ve swung from one extreme to another – heavily restricting and not properly nourishing my body, to losing control and taking part in impulsive, binge, and emotional eating patterns to cope with discomfort. I still deal with restrictive thoughts, unhealthy comparisons, negative self talk, and overeating. I have not by any means mastered intuitive/mindful eating, but I’m working on it. It has definitely been a ride but have made progress in healing my relationship with food.
This isn’t a typical post for me. I want to dig a little deeper. I know that there are so many people approaching this time of year with anxiety and I want to use this platform to help even just one person.
A huge part of the holidays and holiday celebrations revolve around food and eating. For this reason, I used to (and sometimes still do) go into the holidays with fear. I would create unrealistic goals and honestly, it took a lot of the fun out of it. Rather than being present at a party, I would be counting calories and freaking out about how much I messed up my idea of a “perfect” day of eating. Let me just tell you, that’s no way to live.
I thought maybe it could be helpful to share some of the ways I try to approach the holidays in a mindful way…
Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself.
If you think you’re going to go through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years without something that doesn’t necessarily fit your idea of “perfect” eating, please think again. Not only does it seem very unlikely, but it also sounds like a bummer. What kind of holiday is that? If you want something, have a little. Everything in moderation. Restriction often times leads to binging so you’re not doing yourself any favors.
Don’t approach with an all or nothing mindset.
Recovering from an eating disorder involves learning how to live in shades of grey. Everything doesn’t have to be so black and white. Eating a piece of pie with some ice cream doesn’t mean you have failed. Try not to have that mentality. For me I’d convince myself that I already failed, so why not just keep going. I end up going overboard and feeling much worse. Enjoy your pie and ice cream and try to be mindful while doing so.
Take your time when eating.
Mindfulness can be super difficult but when you’re eating but it is important to chew your food. Place your fork down between bites. Don’t inhale it all. Take the time to enjoy your food.
Have a plan.
Figure out what you’re going to do when you find yourself reaching for another piece of pie when you are clearly stuffed! I am by no means saying having more than a piece of pie or indulging is bad, but if you’re already full, then why are you eating it? As yourself what am I gaining from eating this/why am I reaching for it? If it is out of discomfort, boredom, or emotional consider getting up, walking away, and regrouping, drinking some water, finding someone to talk to. Think of food as fuel. How is eating this going to make me feel?
Don’t dwell on what you can’t change.
If you do slip or eat a little more than you are comfortable with or “badly”, there is no point in dwelling. You literally can not change it once its done. It is done. It happened already. All you have control of is your next steps. When you find yourself falling into a negative headspace, bring yourself back to the present moment and try to enjoy yourself.
Hope this helps! Happy Holidays 🙂
Speaking of the holiday treats, check out my post on holiday bark three ways!
Note: I am not a doctor or registered eating disorder specialist. This is just advice from personal experience!