Christmas, New Years and Eating Disorder Recovery

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC for Eating Disorder Hope

paris-77879_640With the holiday season come and gone, you might find yourself processing a myriad of emotions.

Some might be relieved that this time of year is behind them. Others may feel depressed after the highs of the holiday season.

What if you are in recovery from an eating disorder? The wave of emotions you might be experiencing combined with the New Year’s push for resolutions can be overwhelming.

With everything that might be unfolding around you, how can you protect the progress you have made in your recovery? What steps can you take to keep yourself progressing, regardless of the circumstances you might find yourself in?

Recovery Is a Journey

We understand the recovery process to be a journey, not a destination that you arrive at. You will make strides and steps in your recovery as time goes on. Sometimes, that means stepping backwards, sometimes that involves falling flat on your face and getting back up.

One of the most helpful aspects about eating disorder recovery is keeping the big picture in mind. That means focusing on who you are and what you are becoming, letting go of perfectionistic ideals and being kind to yourself on a daily basis.

Living in this mindset can be a difficult thing to do, especially before, during, or after a holiday season that involves so many different emotions and experiences.

YOU Matter

Wherever you are today in your recovery, whether actively in treatment, with years of recovery under your feet, or in the midst of relapse, know that your life is valuable, important, and that YOU matter.

Any obstacle that you face is an opportunity to learn and grow, to discover more about yourself and find you who are apart from your eating disorder. While periods of growth are always challenging, this is the way towards breaking free from the overwhelming bondage of eating disorders.

Breaking Away from the Pseudo Safety of an Eating Disorder

eye-421782_640Perhaps the hardest challenge about recovery is breaking away from the “safety” and pseudo control you have felt with an eating disorder. During times that are stressful or peaked with conflict and tensions, an eating disorder can feel like a safe haven.

This may be especially true during the holiday season where encounters with loved ones may less than ideal or in chaotic surroundings.

You may have resorted to your eating disorder because it helps you feel in control, because you feel misunderstood, or simply because this is all you have known.

The Stigmas of Eating Disorders During the Holidays

Eating disorders continue to be surrounded by many stigmas that only make things more difficult for the sufferer. Perhaps your holiday season was filled with well-meaning relatives or friends who simply do not understand your struggles or the nature of an eating disorder.

However your holiday season unfolded, it is important to know that the power and ability to recover is not dependent on what others do or say but rather, on your resolve to carry on, despite external factors.

Where to Find Help and Support

If today, you find yourself in pain, emotionally distraught, or unable to carry out the things you know that are essential to your recovery…do NOT give up. Reach out to a trusted friend, mentor, or treatment professional and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

If you have relapsed during the holiday season, do not let this discourage you from getting back on track. Whether that means resolving to eat your next meal, driving to your therapist’s office, asking for meal support, going to your support group, or what ever other action step that will keep your eating disorder from taking another foothold.

Recovery Is a Constant

girl-358771_640Don’t wait until you “feel” like getting back into recovery. Recovery cannot be based on feelings or subjectivities. You must base your resolve and determination to recover on truth, on the fact that your life depends on doing the next best thing for yourself in this journey.

Every season of life will offer many ups, downs and unpredictable facets. Whatever season of life you may find yourself in, know that there is hope for recovery and a future that is not dominated by your eating disorder.

By seeking the help you need to meet you where you are today and keeping focus on the bigger picture, you will find yourself making steps and progress as time goes on.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

If you are in recovery from an eating disorder, what has helped you stayed focused? How have you overcome challenging situations?

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 7th, 2014
Published on