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Dealing with bad body image around the holidays can be extra tough. But I want to talk through it with you.
I don’t have all the answers and I can’t promise to make it go away, but I want to offer you support for any struggles with disordered eating, self confidence, or body image around the holidays that you may be feeling this year. That is what I am hoping to do today by sharing my own story, experiences, and tips for these times.
It’s no secret that with the holiday season comes lots of new, unusual (and delicious) foods. This is something that a lot of people cherish and love most about the holiday season. These yummy treats are a way for families to connect and celebrate.
But that’s not how it is for me.
With these foods comes extreme, oftentimes unbearable, anxiety for me. I can spend weeks trying to mentally prepare, build myself up, and motivate myself to just live in the moment and enjoy holidays. But, still, the first sign of a “scary” food and
For years I have longed to be able to enjoy the holiday season like I see so many of the people around me doing.
I am blessed by the fact that my mom and my sister have such incredible, healthy relationships with food and their bodies. This gives me something to strive for. It shows me that food freedom is possible. It is something I admire and want for my own life… and I am determined to get there.
But, reality looks a bit different for me right now.
And that’s okay!!
It just means I have some extra work to do. Everyone has their own crap in this life. We all fight our own battles and deal with our own issues. For me, that battle is my eating disorder. It is a battle that I fight daily and, I’m just gonna be honest…
And it is SO hard.
The holidays really bring home just how difficult it is. It sucks that some people genuinely look forward to Thanksgiving dinner and I just feel fear. It sucks to see other people around me mindlessly enjoying their Christmas cookies, laughing, and living in the moment when all I can think of is calories. Magazine headlines promising they can help you “keep off the holiday weight“, family members talking about their new diet at the dinner table, the rise in toxic, diet-ridden words surrounding food: “This is my cheat meal“, “I’m being naughty today and having some dessert”, “Have you lost weight, Susan? You look good!”, “I’ll make up for this in the new year”… all of it. It sucks.
I am not blaming or pointing fingers at anyone who has made these comments. They don’t understand how these words are harmful. This is no one’s fault… sadly, dieting is just normalized in the society we live in today. But if you deal with these thoughts too, these seemingly-innocent comments stick more than they should. But please know…
You are not alone.
Trust me, I get it.
I don’t profess to have all the answers for this either. I’ve told you that I still struggle myself. But I do know that there are some things that have helped me not only get through these times but make progress towards actually enjoying the holidays again like I did when I was a kid. ❤️
- Block out “diet-talk”: All forms of it. Toxic. Unhelpful. Ew. Buh-bye. 👋🏻
This talk comes in many different forms. Maybe for you this means an unfollowing spree on social media. Or maybe it’s redirecting the conversation from a dieting family member or unsubscribing from an email list with “health tips”… these are all things I have implemented personally. Whatever it may be for you personally, remove that from your life. It isn’t helping anyone.
- Journal, talk, or cry it out: Holding in your emotions is a sure-fire way to set yourself up for failure and more pain. What you are feeling is valid and you have every right to feel the things you do. Internalizing these thoughts only gives them more power. Expressing them feels like such a relief. Whether that be talking to a loved one, journaling, or even just sitting and having a good cry… whatever feels the best for you is what you need to do. ❤️
- Nourish: If I’ve learned one thing from my eating disorder, it’s that a malnourished brain and body do not function the way they should. Not only does food restriction strengthen bad habits, but when you are acting from a deficit, your judgment and thought-patterns are extremely altered. Restriction is never the answer. Eat. Fuel. Nourish. Care for yourself. Please.
- Practice Self Care: As cliché as it sounds, it works. Caring for yourself is especially important when you are dealing with bad body image around the holidays (or any time of year for that matter).
What makes me feel cared for? What brings me peace and comfort? When do I feel the most joyful? Then, go do that. I hate to be the person yelling at you to “treat yo’self!!!!” But it’s true. It helps. And you deserve it.
You got this.
I believe in you. I see you and I am here for you.
The holidays, while they can be extremely fun and joyful, bring up a lot of tough emotions too. Be kind to yourself and be kind to those around you.
Before you go, I have a challenge for you this holiday season!
I want you to challenge yourself to practice self compassion this year. I want you to acknowledge all your feelings and know that whatever you are feeling is valid.
Also, I want you to really challenge yourself to focus on the things that make you happy around the holidays. You DESERVE to feel joy and you DESERVE to celebrate these special days without anxiety surrounding food and your body. I know that is way easier said than done but I am hoping and praying you can feel that authentic joy this year.
Sending you all my love and support. You are strong and you are capable.
You. Got. This!