Christmas isn’t all about food

Christmas is considered one of the best times of the year: family, presents, love, laughter, joy and- like most other large social occasions- food. For individuals with eating disorders, that last part is particularly hard to deal with. The worries and anxieties whirl round the entire day, making it quite difficult to enjoy. Unfortunately, for the past couple of years this has been the case for me but this year I am determined to truly cherish the day. In school, we are studying A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, which made me formulate a helpful idea to prevent me (and perhaps other sufferers) overthinking food on Christmas Day.

At Christmas time, I feel like Scrooge and I are quite alike. No, I don’t shout ‘Bah Humbug’ or growl at my clerk but I do tend to focus on something that in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t really matter. Scrooge only pays attention to money: it’s all he cares about. As a result, it consumes him. He can’t appreciate the wonderful season because his life has been taken over with the golden idol.

Eating disorders make our minds think like Scrooge, but we are fixated on food instead. The similarity between the two is that they both don’t matter at Christmas. Yes, food is a big part but it’s not a core value.

As we learn in the book, the true meaning of Christmas is generosity, joy, togetherness and gratitude. Find and focus on those things rather than fret over what you may eat. You don’t need 3 ghosts to visit you to do this! You just have to be determined and mindful of your thoughts (be able to notice when you get carried away). Distracting yourself with other festive activities is a very good technique:

Go out and give to charity; talk to your friends and family; appreciate your gifts; watch festive films and TV; play games; join in!

Christmas is so so much more than food. If Scrooge- a mean, miserly, old ‘oyster’- can change, so can you.

Obviously at some point you will have to face some food but if you believe in yourself you will manage.

If you feel up to tackling a challenge, then go for it! It is a brilliant thing and can only bring good. Remember that one ‘bad’ (I hate this label of food- all food is fine in moderation!) won’t make you ‘fat’ just like one ‘good’ meal won’t make you lean! One meal can’t make a difference.

If not, don’t worry. Don’t ruin your Christmas by agonising over something so little; after all it is meant to be enjoyed.

Whatever you do, make sure it is balanced because everybody deserves health and happiness (Tiny Tim!).

Keep in mind the real values of Christmas and savour the fabulous day. Have a very merry time and have a happy new year!

“God bless us, every one!”

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