Your holiday survival guide!
Find a place inside where there’s joy and the joy will burn out the pain.
Please find below your holiday survival guide by Dr Nina. Christmas is a difficult time for people suffering from Eating Disorders. I get many emails from both Muslims and Non-Muslims where they speak of challenges holiday season brings to them. Dining with colleagues and getting through the holidays’ food excesses and celebrations can feel like running through a minefield for many people. I’ve covered this holiday topic many times before, I hope you’ll find this article and holiday video by Dr Nina useful this holiday season.
It’s that time of year again. The holidays are upon us. Does that bring you joy?
Maybe you feel a combination of both happiness and anxiety. If you feel conflicted about the holidays, you’re not alone.
Why are the holidays so difficult for so many people?
TV commercials and magazine ads start showing happy, loving, close families gathered over a table loaded with food. Everyone is beaming and grateful for their wonderful lives.
If that’s your reality, consider yourself lucky. But for many people, if not most, that’s a fantasy world that’s not even close to reality.
If it seems as if everyone in the world is living a perfect Hallmark holiday life, full of peace, love and happiness – and then there’s YOUR family, that can be painful.
The contrast can be really difficult especially if you think the picture perfect image is how it’s supposed to be, and it’s just not.
That’s upsetting, which leads to overeating or bingeing (or other forms of disordered eating) as a way to numb or distract from the pain.
Or, because these families are often shown having meals together, eating, overeating or bingeing can be a means of “feeling” like you’re part of the picture perfect holiday family. If you can’t have the family, at least you’ve got the food.
And what about the food?
The holidays start with Thanksgiving (at least they do in the United States) and Thanksgiving is often referred to as “National Binge Day” – the whole day is a tribute to excess.
You’re expected to overeat. It’s even considered bad manners not to try everything on the table. If you struggle with food, this can be extremely challenging.
Another problem with the holidays is everyone talks about food. A lot.
Some relatives get offended if you don’t try everything. Someone will say, “I know you’re watching your weight but you’re just GOT to try my pecan pie. One bite won’t hurt you. Go on, have some.”
And then there are the people who watch every bite they eat – and every bite YOU eat. They say, “Oh, I shouldn’t have this.” Or worse, “Do you think you should eat that? Do you really need that?”
All this focus on food can lead to a lot of stress – you’re anxious, upset, and sad – and if you don’t have other strategies to deal with those stressful emotion, that makes you more vulnerable to using food to cope.
So it can be a vicious cycle. The key is to learn to express feelings in words, instead of behavior.
How do you stop the cycle?
You may think you’re being triggered by food – you’re not! You’re triggered by situations and experiences that are painful or upsetting, and make them want to turn to food to cope – to numb, or distract from what’s upsetting you.
Start by asking yourself some questions:
What is the most difficult part of the holidays? Food? Family? Lack of family?
Are you emotionally hungry, lonely, upset, or maybe even jealous?
What is eating “at” you the most?
When you deal with and process those situations and feelings directly, you won’t use food as a coping strategy.
And I have a bonus for you, a video I made just for you (it’s not available on my YouTube series and the only people who have access are my subscribers). Check it out here