It’s that time of year again! The holidays have arrived and for many people this means sitting down to feast upon feast of five course family dinners . While this is enjoyable for many people, this is not necessarily the case for those among us who suffer from disordered eating.
The holiday dinners themselves are hard enough as it is, but the real challenge rolls around in January when all people seem to be talking about is their new years resolution to lose weight, get in shape, and shake those extra pounds from the holidays. For some, this kind of conversation might seem innocent and casual. But for people who struggle with an eating disorder this kind of conversation can be triggering which can risk worsening the disordered behavior or derailing the recovery efforts of someone who is trying to overcome their eating disorder.
The thing about eating disorders that people may not realize is that they are very competitive disorders. This is the reason why so many individuals become so much sicker after becoming involved in online eating disorder communities or even support groups. The disordered thought patterns thrive off of competition. You compete with yourself with the belief that the only acceptable number on the scale is one lower than the one before it, but you also compete with others in the sense that you want to be the best at weight loss.
What this means in the context of the holiday season is that when someone with an eating disorder is bombarded with messages about losing weight and being fit, it triggers a competitive element in their mind which can cause them to lose track of their recovery or become sicker than they already were. Of course, this is not the fault of the individuals who set those pesky New Year’s resolutions, nor is it the fault of the individual plagued by the eating disorder. To place blame would be impossible and , quite frankly, pointless.
With all of that being said, it is important to recognize that this is a difficult time of year for those of us who are trying to recover from an eating disorder. If you know somebody who has an eating disorder, consider showing them some extra support over the next few weeks and encourage them to stay on track. It is very common to lose sight of the recovery goal when weight loss seems to be the focus of so many people during this time of year. Show your support by not talking about weight loss around someone who has an eating disorder or by reaching out to them and offering them support in even the smallest of gestures.
If you’re reading this and you are also struggling feel free to leave me a comment below and we can chat it out. Let’s show each other the support that we need!