The holiday period is often absolute hell for anyone with an eating disorder. Everyone everywhere is eating and talking about food and commenting on weight. Maybe you see your family and they mention that you look as though your weight has changed. Perhaps you have a big family meal when you are terrified of eating in front of people. There is plenty of food around perfect for your binge eating needs.
The time I find even harder, as someone in recovery from an eating disorder, is the new year.
“Best diets for 2016”
“Leave all that extra weight in 2015”
“Christmas is over. Time to eat salad and join the gym”
“Resolution: stop eating. Lose weight.”
Diets are shoved down our throats around this time because companies are playing on insecurities. You’ve just had Christmas and probably eaten more than you usually would, the big diet companies want to make you feel guilty about this. They want you to think the only way to counteract it is by buying whatever they are selling. Why not set a new year’s resolution to say a big ‘fuck you’ to the diet industry?
Add an eating disorder into the mix and you have more intense guilt. If you are in recovery then all these messages might increase your thoughts of wanting to lose weight. Those thoughts are dangerous.
Having an eating disorder makes any conversations about food and weight very difficult. This time of year is FULL of conversations about what diets people are going to try, how much exercise they are doing, what foods they are cutting out. If someone is making lifestyle changes for their health, that’s perfectly okay. Just bear in mind that talking about it might be really damaging if a person with an eating disorder hears. In my mind, if I hear that someone has lost x weight or only eating x calories, that means I should be doing the same. That makes me, in my disordered thinking, start to consider starving myself again.
Be mindful of those around you. If you are concerned that someone’s weight loss/eating/exercise etc is getting out of hand, do something. Talk to them. They might be absolutely fine. They might be really struggling and needing someone to reach out.
Lifestyle changes with eating and exercise can be really great and if the new year motivates you to do that then, good for you. Just be careful and consult a doctor about any issues. Diets often involve depriving yourself of stuff you enjoy and that sucks. They make you feel worse about yourself a lot of the time and can get out of control. So remember, if you do succumb to new year diet pressure, take care of your body and your mind throughout.
For those with eating disorders, talking will help. Head over to the b-eat website or discuss any disordered thoughts with a therapist if you have one. Remember how far you have come and how far you can go if you keep fighting these thoughts.
New year’s resolution: MORE LOVE. OF YOURSELF. AND OTHERS!