Eating Disorders - Tips for Christmas
Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder are complex, life threatening conditions, from which people can and do recover with appropriate treatment. However it is safe to say that the Christmas period, with all its excesses, probably represents the most difficult time of year for those affected.
Bodywhys, the Eating Disorders Association of Ireland, has published a list of tips, aimed at helping those affected to cope with this time of year:
-Try not to isolate yourself.
-Let people know how you are feeling about your fears around food. Try to ease the stress by identifying what might make things less stressful for you. Write out a list and share it with your family. This could help you to negotiate ways of having your needs met. Present your list as your coping tools so that others may engage positively to support you in using them.
-If you can identify a family member that you can confide in, enlist their support and work out with them specific ways of coping with the pressures of the day. The more aware they are of your needs, the more confident and willing they will be to help you.
-Write down your feelings if you feel scared. Writing it down can help to dilute or dissipate the feeling.
-Try and keep to your own routine around meal times etc...,if this is important to you.
-Arrange that whoever is doing the cooking knows that you need to have some control over what you eat. Try to negotiate ways of having your needs met well in advance of Christmas Day, in order to prevent a build up of anxiety and stress.
-Try and take time-out from the 'crowd', maybe by reading quietly, taking a walk or listening to music. Tell people in advance that it would help you to be allowed to do this.
-Try to keep things in perspective by taking a realistic view of food and drink. They are only two of the many pleasurable activities at this time of the year.
-Be prepared for comments about food and plan your responses. Avoid reacting defensively. Instead, respond in a way that invites others to respect your needs.(Example: "It's important for me to be able to manage things at my own pace at the moment. If I am allowed to manage things my own way, it will help me to feel less stressed". )
-Try to not expect too much either of yourself or of others, or even of the day. This will help you to avoid feeling disappointed.
-It is important to remember that you deserve to be happy too, so choose what you want to do as much as you can.
-However it turns out, remember that Christmas is just one day out of 365 days so don't panic.
-Give yourself the gift of acceptance - you are as you are.
-If you really cannot face the celebrations, explore ways of helping others, or escape within the home if that is possible.
-Try and stay with the present and not look back or forward. It is only one day after all.
Finally, if you are feeling overwhelmed, do not be hard on yourself - Christmas can be overwhelming at the best of times.
For more information on eating disorders and Bodywhys, click on...
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