This is a guest post from Chloe at Nyxie’s Nook. You can also find Chloe on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You can also read a previous guest post from Chloe on 10 Mental Health Lessons from 2020.

The holidays are a difficult time for many reasons. Some may be suffering recent loss, while others will still be feeling the impacts of social distancing and isolation. For others, the reason could be medical, whether it’s mental or physical. Eating disorders are among an umbrella of mental illnesses which may take the light from celebrating Christmas.

Although a ‘season of joy for many, coping with a very food-focused holiday like Christmas can feel more like hell than joy on earth. Food can easily become the main focus of every situation, which can leave us feeling smothered by the calories we’re expected to consume while trying to remain in recovery. No matter what side of the spectrum you’re on, weight, whether losing it or gaining it, is always lurking around the corner.

*Some people may be required to lose weight in order to recover and may have an addiction to food which they find difficult to control. Likewise with Bulimia. While on the other side, those with anorexia may find the constant reminder of their biggest fear (food & weight gain), is much too difficult to face. No matter where you are on the spectrum, you are valid and heard, and this post has something for you.

Five ways to support someone during the holidays. And why weight gain isn’t the end of the world:

Let go of expectations

There were many years when my experience with Christmas was ruined by my expectations. I always want Christmas and New Year to be perfect. But by holding that expectation neither were ever very good. I always ended up feeling sorely disappointed and lonely. The truth is nothing can be perfect and we need to let go of that expectation.

Equally, we need to let go of the expectation we hold for ourselves. It’s okay to eat a little bit more than usual, it’s okay to get up at nine instead of six. Challenge the negative thinking patterns that are telling you that it’s not, and tell them exactly why it is!

Set aside time for self-care

One of the biggest downsides of the holidays is that we’re expected to be there both physically and mentally. Even emotionally! Depending on who you are and how you handle social situations, they may be easier said than done.

If you find spending time with people overwhelming, then it’s a good idea to schedule some ‘me time. Pop off during the downtime and read a book or play some video games. If you’re fit and able you could even do some yoga.

You should never be ashamed to take a break from all the socialisation that’s expected of you. There is no reason to burn yourself during a holiday that you’re meant to spend time relaxing.

Plan things to look forward to

For anyone with an eating disorder, the time after our meal can be the hardest. It’s the time when we reflect on what we’ve just consumed, whether we want to or not. From my experience, it’s always best to have a planned distraction to look forward to. This can be in the form of colouring-in, reading a good book or even partaking in the annual Monopoly minefield.

Make sure you have something in mind prior to walking into the situation but don’t be afraid to change it up a bit if prompted.

Practice kindness, even to yourself

This shouldn’t need much explanation. Be nice, be kind and be mindful of others during the holidays. For some, this could be the first year without a loved one or perhaps they’re lonely and have no one to turn to. No matter where you are, at work or at home, be kind.

How can we mention kindness without also thinking of ourselves!? Impossible! The kindness you put out into the world needs to also be displayed in how we treat ourselves.

Set clear boundaries

The holidays are usually a time filled with work-dos, family gatherings and spending time with loved ones. You can’t attend everything, and that’s perfectly fine. Just like you can’t please everyone, which is also perfectly fine (and entirely not your fault).

NO is not a dirty word. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed by a situation, then you have the right to politely decline or excuse yourself.

Related read: When Is It Important To Say No?

Pop out for a walk, spend time with your dog/cat, take a breather with some Netflix, or even go for a nap. Self-care is so important during the holidays in general, but especially when you’re surrounded by potential triggers.

Why weight gain isn’t the end of the world

It’s okay if your weight fluctuates. We’re not robots and our bodies are not meant to stay the same forever. If you gain weight during the holidays or any other time, it’s not the end of the world. No matter what your mother says, or what you read online, weight fluctuation is a natural thing.

If you’d like to find out more about weight gain and set-point theory, check out this post where I go into detail about trusting our bodies.

Thank you for reading this wonderful guest post from Nyxie’s Nook. If you have any of your own tips to add, please share them in the comments.

Liked this post? Read more guest posts on my blog here:

40 Comments

  1. What an insightful read from Nyxie, she really knows her stuff! I have not ever considered how difficult it could be for someone who struggles with an eating disorder to go through the holidays. I kind of understand what it must feel like, but reading these tips was definitely useful. I will try my best to do this for me, even though I do not have an eating disorder but hate the comments some family members do make about something as sensitive as weight.

  2. A very insightful post. I love that you pointed out that gaining weight is not the end of the world. Lots of people perceive it that way, admittedly even myself! The holiday season is simply for enjoying yourself and I hope many people can do that, regardless whether they suffer with any eating disorders or not. Thanks Jenny!

  3. These are fantastic tips – I’ve had friends who’ve had EDs and the holidays were incredibly stressful. You’ve done a great job with providing lots of ideas for a variety of people are different points in their ED journey and recovery, as well as outlined the importance of being gentle with themselves. Thanks for this post, I imagine it will help a lot of folks.

  4. So much wisdom in this post! Our society tends to make people feel that there is a ‘perfect’ criteria that can be reached in our lives. This is an absurd thought and very disturbing. Nothing is perfect…except God, of course. We are supposed to enjoy the holidays and have some fun! 🙂 And, yes, kindness to self and others always matters. 🙂

  5. What a wonderful post to share and advocate for the holiday season. I feel like this time of year is when lots of people use the words diet way too often because of new years resolutions. at the same token, there are families who cook lots of food for these holiday meals and there’s this expectation to eat a lot of it. it can be a toxic situation and i love how you mentioned ways to be kinder to those who deal with ED. thanks for sharing.

  6. As someone who has been in ED recovery for years, this was really meaningful and I’m so glad you shared. It’s really challenging going into the holiday season because people are always using phrases like “I guess I’ll just diet after New Years” or “I’m being a bad girl today and having a cookie” or whatever else. It hurts to hear the way they talk when they don’t think about how others might struggle. These were really good reminders for myself going into this season.

  7. Helpful post especially for those that may not be going through this but supporting someone that is. I know for me it is something that will always be a part of me and I used to be ashamed to talk to people because I hated the looks of people watching me eat and what I ate, I know they mean well but sometimes it does make things worse. But this is a great reminder to be more mindful and take care of myself at this time or even others around me x

  8. I’m learning all about boundaries even now as a 29 year old. I’m pregnant and feeling a little self conscious as my weight grows and my pregnancy continues. People feel the need to comment on my appearance in a way that has never happened before. I’ll be seeing lots of family and friends over Christmas and I can already hear the eating for two comments coming my way.
    Setting healthy boundaries is what will get me through!
    Thank you ladies!

    Rosie

  9. This is such an important post. It is something most of us seem to firget during these days. People with eatinf disorders must be having a hard time during holidays. It is important to understand their struggles and what we can do to help them. Thank you for sharing this!

  10. Thanks for sharing this. It’s brought it to my attention, and I often ignorantly forget that there are people out there who suffer from anorexia and it doesn’t just switch off at this time of year. I’m on the other end of the spectrum. I constantly struggle with my weight, and I’m never truly happy with my body but I’m getting there. But I often do worry about gaining weigh over xmas. This year I’m just going to enjoy myself, as 2021 has been another hard year for us all.

  11. This is such an important post which I think many people will appreciate. my friend has an ED and I know she always struggles around this time of year. You’ve worded this beautifully. Thank you so much for sharing lovely Xo

    Elle – ellegracedeveson.com

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: