Christmas is the most wonderful time of year, except when it’s kinda not.
For a lot of people Christmas revolves around food. Some people love that, and for some people it’s a nightmare.
If you’re someone who struggles with negative thoughts about your food consumption or comments about what you are eating here’s some advice on how to navigate Christmas.
Firstly, there’s no such thing as “bad” food
I’m personally guilty of looking at certain foods as “good” and “bad”. I’ve actually been working to try cut out this very negative and toxic thinking. But one of the reasons I’ve had long held negative associations with food and my weight is that a family member used to love scolding, and frankly embarrassing me, about my food choices as a young child. To this day I still have those insecurities about my body and what I eat.
Food is neither good nor bad; it’s there to sustain our bodies but also, it’s there to be enjoyed. I think a bit of Christmas indulgence is good for the soul. So, if you want it, go for it. Guilt and negative thoughts should never come into play when it comes to food. Yes, it’s easy for me to say that, especially when I have confessed to my own issues, but I’ve started to make myself aware of this toxic trait and I snap myself out of it. It’s not an easy process, but give yourself the time and space to enjoy Christmas and try to retrain your brain when it comes to negative thoughts.
Call people out on negative comments
Have you lost weight? “Why no Mary, I haven’t. But thanks for making me feel like I looked bigger than what I was.
I dunno what it is in Ireland, but there’s a compulsion to talk about the weather and someone’s weight. I think the vast majority of people mean it as a compliment, but it honestly makes my skin crawl when I get comments on my weight, even positive ones at that. It makes me feel like that’s all someone notices about me.
I know it can be a bit confrontational to have these discussions with people, but I think it’s important to say something if it’s upsetting you. But also, some people say these things as a compliment and they don’t even really notice you and your appearance. If the comments are in a malicious way I’d speak to another family member to get some support.
If someone comments on what you’re eating
“Ohh, you’re not have more, are you??”
“You know what Patricia, I love Celebrations. In fact I look forward to tucking into them all year, so please excuse me while I enjoy this treat”.
There’s nothing worse than having someone make a comment about how much you’re eating, or what you’re eating, or talking about calories and January diets, when you just want to enjoy your food. Those comments take the enjoyment out of food and instil guilt and shame, but remember what I said above; food shouldn’t make you feel guilty.
I’d advise making a point of saying that you enjoy what you’re eating and you don’t need the commentary; it’s not helpful and it’s taking away from the experience. I think a lot of time we’re embarrassed to call people out on their poor actions, but my thinking is they weren’t too embarrassed to say that horrible comment to you, so you don’t really owe them anything. Confrontational yes, but saying nothing and letting comments get to you doesn’t help at all. Again, some people say these things without thinking, so it’s important to flag your discomfort.
Eating Disorders are incredibly complex and Christmas can ramp this up a lot. Go easy on yourself. Speak to your loved ones and explain to them how you’re feeling. I really do hope that you’re getting adequate support anyway, but Christmas can be really trying when it comes to eating disorders, so don’t be afraid to speak up and say that you need an extra hand. Try to be understanding with yourself and those around you. People can’t read minds, so try communicate better about your thoughts and feelings and what you need to be supported.
Eating disorders and understanding what’s going on can be hard on parents too. Talk to your parents about not commenting on your food intake and explain that comments can be hurtful, even if they mean to be encouraging. Eating disorders aren’t something you can control or fix overnight – they’re serious mental health issues. That can’t be “fixed” just because it’s Christmas.
If you feel like you need to speak to someone or if you need extra resources check out www.bodywhys.ie.
We know it can feel tough, but you will come out the other side of Christmas. Mind yourself.x