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  • Writer's pictureGeraldine Claire Therapy

Surviving the Holidays when you have an Eating Disorder

“The Easter holidays can be a tough time if you’re trying to recover from an Eating Disorder. The abundance of Easter Eggs, the increased social gatherings centring around meal times and the lack of routine can be activating for eating disorder behaviours.”

If you’re recovering from an eating disorder or if you struggle with your relationship with food, and you’re worried about the Easter Break, here are some tips to help you get through the holidays:

• Eat regularly - Don’t con yourself into restricting, just in case you binge on chocolate, or over eat at meals/buffets. Restricting only places you at even greater risk of binging and making choices you may regret further down the line.

• Plan your meals and your snacks - Ensure you have good balance of vegetables, carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Don’t restrict a particular food group because this can increase urges to binge.

• Planning is your friend - If you have time off over Easter ensure that you take time each day to engage with: - Body Care - yoga, meditation, walks, long baths.- Achievement - rearranging a room, catching up with life admin, finishing a task that’s been dragging on.- Connection - meet friends, play with your kids, stroke your pet, smile at someone in the park.- Enjoyment- watch a favourite film, immerse yourself in nature if that’s your thing, get into the city if that’s more your thing.

• Be mindful of your mirror use and body checking - When our levels of stress relating to food increase, our focus on body image can consequentially increase, this leads to more stress, more focus on food and more focus on body image, causing a vicious cycle. No matter how tempting it is, do not scrutinise your body before meals, after meals, throughout the day, first thing in the morning or last thing at night, no matter what you see, this will only serve to compound your eating disorder and lead to further emotional pain down the line. Be aware of when you’re likely to want to mirror check and make a list of distractions - your future self will thank you for it.

• Anticipate and Challenge the Eating Disorder thoughts you’re susceptible to. Below are some common eating disorder thought processes and some examples of how you can challenge your own unhelpful thoughts.

- Abstinence Violation - I’ve broken my healthy eating pattern so I might as well binge. It’s unrealistic to eat 100% healthily, 100% of the time. I’m aiming to eat flexibly and if I binge, this will take me further away from my goals. I’ll plan my time for the rest of the day and surf any urges to binge. - Capitulation - I can’t get through this so I might as well give in to the eating disorder. The feeling of not being able to get through this is a sign I’m stressed, I need to take a beat, think about what I have had to eat today, ensure I’m not in deficit and practice some self soothing strategies, and remind myself the cons far outweigh the pros when it comes to giving in to my eating disorder.

- Mind Reading - If anyone see’s me eating this they might think that I’m ok now or that I’ve been lying about my eating disorder. My friends and family know that in order to recover, I need to eat, they also know that eating is only part of the journey. This is my eating disorder trying to control me yet again, if I keep thinking this way about my loved ones I can ask them if my fears are true.

- All or Nothing Thinking - I’ve had a second helping - I’ve probably gained a ton of weight. I need to reality check, I know that an extra helping of food does not lead to sudden and rapid weight gain. It’s normal to eat an extra serving of food, lots of people do it and their weight stays stable.

- Physical and Emotional Reasoning - I’m bloated; I feel fat, therefore I must be fat. Bloating is typical after a meal, especially for someone who has been restricting their food intake. The bowel can get sluggish if it’s been out of action, this feeling is just my body, doing it’s job. Bloating does not equate to weight gain.

- Critical Self - I don’t deserve any of this food, I don’t deserve to have a good time I should just stay away from everything. I deserve food just as much as anyone else, food isn’t a morality tool, it’s something I need to provide me with the sustenance and fuel I need.

- Rebellious Self - The holidays are so stressful I just need something that’s just for me. Binging/purging is not quality me time, I feel dreadful afterwards and physically uncomfortable. I can sit down and come up with three ways that allow me to get some me time in a way that doesn’t involve binging and purging.

- Demanding Self - You don’t need as much food as other people, you need to eat less than them. This is my eating disorder really trying to guilt trip me. The truth is, I need food just as much as other people, not eating enough causes me to have: surface thinking - I lose my ability to concentrate as fully as I could; fatigue; a weakened immune system; social withdrawal.

• Challenge any of your Eating Disorder thoughts from a Wise and Compassionate stance, think about what you would say to a good friend if they were telling you these thoughts.

• Remember recovery isn’t a one person journey. Lean into your support network, if you’re worried about struggling, talk to someone. Your support network might be a family member, friend, online community or support group.

-“Do I need therapy for my eating problems?”

-“Therapy could be beneficial to you if the points below are relatable”

• You have a diagnosis of an eating Disorder.

• You yo-yo diet.

• You have a difficult relationship with food.

• You struggle with your body image.

• Your self esteem is strongly linked to your weight.

If you are looking for supportive counselling, psychological treatment for eating difficulties is available in Wilmslow, Cheshire. Geraldine Claire offers Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Schema Focussed Therapy for Eating Disorders and difficulties from her SK9 clinic which is in easy reach of South Manchester and Cheshire. Contact Geraldine today on 07908710526 for more information.

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