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The holidays can be a difficult time for those of us who are in the midst of an eating disorder or in recovery. Holiday parties seem to be planned all the time, and treats are always available. We have talked before about how to enjoy the holidays despite your eating disorder, but this year I would like to go one step further.
Not only can survive and enjoy the holidays, we can also enjoy holiday foods without guilt.
Everyone who has been through an eating disorder knows certain foods are harder to introduce back into your diet than others. For myself, the more indulgent the food felt, the guiltier I felt about eating it.
Knowing this, my strategy was to fulfill my meal plan entirely by eating foods I was comfortable with, while completely avoiding those foods I felt guilty about eating. By doing this, I was able to enjoy the holiday without the anxiety caused by challenging myself with fear foods. This seemed to be the best of both worlds.
I have since learned that while I was able to enjoy the holidays to a certain extent, there is no such thing as the best of both worlds.
The fact of the matter is, enjoying holiday foods with loved ones is a part of the holidays.
As much as we would like to convince ourselves otherwise, food is a part of the holidays. When we don’t allow ourselves to enjoy holiday specialties, we are not only missing out on some delicious food, we are also missing out on the shared experience of enjoying it with our loved ones.
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So how are we supposed to enjoy holiday foods and keep our anxiety at bay? I have found that striking a balance between avoiding fear foods, fulfilling your meal plan, challenging yourself with new foods, and enjoying the holidays and holiday food all at the same time can be quite a tall order.
A lot of the time, I found the anxiety surrounding what I would do for big holiday meals was harder to deal with than the meals themselves.
Knowing this, I’ve found it helps to remind yourself that there will be foods you are comfortable with and a treat here and there is perfectly normal.
As simple as it seems, affirmations like these actually make a huge difference.
By assuring yourself that you will be okay in the situation, anxiety is reduced, which in turn allows you to enjoy the holiday more. You might even find that you’re able to enjoy a slice of pie you never dreamed you’d allow yourself before.
This holiday season, I encourage you to try to enjoy a few of the holiday foods you’ve never allowed yourself to enjoy since the eating disorder took over.
Remind yourself before the meal there is nothing to worry about. Most importantly, enjoy the holidays and all they entail, including holiday meals with family, friends, and loved ones.
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