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Surviving Christmas with an eating disorder

The Christmas holiday season is that one special time of the year for families to get together, to feast on delicious foods and to give gifts to loved ones. It is meant to be a time of joy, laughter and happy memories. However for someone with an eating disorder, Christmas could be their worst nightmare!

Eating disorders come in many forms and extends further than just anorexia or bulimia nervosa. There is such things as Night Eating Syndrome and Food Addiction that are other forms of eating disorders.

Christmas to this kind of person brings up unwanted thoughts and images of the past. The possible glances, comments or even worse, jokes from family members at their weight and body shape, do make things any easier for them.

And for the person who is recovering well from an eating disorder, the Christmas gatherings could send them into a relapse.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, there are some things that you can do, to help prevent the holidays from completely overwhelming yourself.

1. Plan ahead

Find out as much information as you can about what is the plan for the family Christmas day festivities. This will already make you feel more in charge. Is there a menu planned? If so, what's on the menu? When will it start? When could take a break and go for a walk? If you are already hyperventilating over the menu, there is no need panic. Just bring a dish to share that you know works wells for you. That way you won't feel so obliged to have to eat something you're not looking forward to.

2. Practice Mindful Eating

Before Christmas hits, practice the art of mindful eating if you have been taught this by myself. Get curious. Increase your awareness. The more you practice the easier it gets. Please note that not all mindful eating techniques are suitable for all eating disorder types, so please don't just read what you get off the internet, it may not apply to you, and it may make your recovery slower. If you haven't got them already, order your Mindful Eating Cards here to help you wherever you are.

3. Practice calming and soothing activities

Meditation, yoga, stretching, taking deep breaths, reading a good book or taking a relaxing swim or bath are just some soothing activities you can try.

If you don't know what helps you keep calm, stay calm, and what can soothe you, then I recommend you see a Psychologist, Family Therapist or a Behavioural Psychologist. If that idea sounds too scary, I recommend Help Line, Compass and Beyond Blue. Your strategies for calming and soothing may be very different to others.

4. Plan something enjoyable after Christmas

If after all your planning and practicing, Christmas still was a flop, don't worry. Put in place a plan to do something highly enjoyable, this way you've got something nice to look forward too soon after. It could be a long refreshing walk on the beach, a drive into the glorious hills, a rejuvenating spa experience, a fun park day, a shopping spree or a trip to somewhere on your "bucket list".

Christmas doesn't need to be scary if you have an eating disorder. And you don't have to do it alone.

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