“That’s all just sugar and carbs.”
This statement made to me recently would have completely devastated the girl I used to be. But it simply just angered the woman that I am now. It also reminded me as we are going into the holidays that many people have still not quite evolved in their own relationship with food and therefore have a tendency to impose their views on others.
I remember when I saw food as good/bad. I remember telling others how they should eat and behave at feasts such as Thanksgiving. I remember reprimanding people for eating sugar. I remember my own struggle with food. And I’m ashamed of it all.
But because of it, I’ve learned so much. I can empathize with others who are struggling during the holidays with their eating disorders and with their wonderful, but maybe too judgmental family and friends. Having been on both sides of the spectrum of making others feel guilty about food and feeling guilty about food, I am able to write this blog that I hope will help someone who is struggling this Thanksgiving and Christmas with their own relationship with food.
First, I’d like to give some tips to EVERYONE on what NOT to say. Please don’t glaze over this. You may think, “I don’t know any with an eating disorder so this doesn’t apply to me!” Well here’s the thing, most of the time, you will not know someone is struggling with an eating disorder until it has become very extreme. Also, if you yourself are thinking or saying these things, your own relationship with food is suffering. The words we speak are what our hearts meditate on. They’re powerful and show what’s inside us.
Things NOT to say:
- If you eat that pie, it’ll go straight to your hips!
- You’re getting ANOTHER plate of food!?
- You look like you’ve put on that freshman 15!
- Don’t eat too many rolls! Carbs are bad for you!
- Can you eat that on your diet?
- The average American eats like 4,000 calories on Thanksgiving.
- I feel super fat.
- What’s the Marcos on this brownie?
- Don’t you think you’ve had enough gravy?
What we say to others is huge. What we say about ourselves is also huge. Particularly for people of influence, if you are calling yourself fat, you are then giving others permission to do the same to themselves. Mom’s, do you want your sweet baby girl to call herself fat and ugly? Of course not! But self hate isn’t natural. It’s learned. I have the sweetest little 10 month old neice that has the cutest thigh rolls, a big, happy belly, and cheeks for days. And you know what, she thinks she’s gorgeous. She loves looking at herself in the mirror and having her picture taken.
Again, self hate isn’t natural; it’s learned.
In contrast, some GREAT things to say are:
- OMG that food you have looks AMAZING!!
- You look so happy!
- Isn’t this pie amazing!?
- I just love seeing you.
- I love the way my legs look in these jeans!
- You’re simply glowing today.
Uplifting others and yourself is huge. Isn’t the point of the holidays to be full of thankfullness and love? Not worring about food and the gravitational pull we have on the earth?
I caution people to be aware of the words they use in conversations. I remember at one holiday overhearing women bragging on how little they eat. The conversation turned to one lady’s husband who would eat a meal and go straight to bed. One lady exclaimed, “that’s the worst thing you could do!!” Really? The worst? I mean, I always thought child rape or burning down an orphanage would classify as “the worst.” Also, why is starving ourselves now something that is boast worthy? Words are powerful. Please be cautious and think through the gravity of what you say.
Now, those who struggle with eating disorders, my heart goes out to you. This is a tough time of year that can really rattle you. Anxiety is running high in your veins. I’d love to give you some tips that have helped and are still helping me get through the holidays.
Tips to remember during the holidays when you’re battling an eating disorder:
- Other people don’t have power over you. You control your reactions to what they say.
- Your worth isn’t based in food, body composition, or others opinions.
- Eat veggies for your body; eat pie for your soul.
- There is no good food or bad food. There is only food. Some has more nutrients, some less, but it should not be classified as either good or bad.
- Wear clothes that make you feel both comfortable and confident. Our bodies are incredible and can expand to accommodate food. Wear clothes that let your body do this without pressure but also make you feel like the gorgeous human that you are.
- Repeat to yourself quotes or verses that remind you of where your worth really comes from. (My favorite are Ezekiel 16:14 and Ephesians 2:10)
- Have an accountability partner that you can text or call when you feel overwhelmed. This is HUGE. A good support system is vital to recovery.
- Know your boundaries and stick to them. If someone is saying something that triggers you, either tell them if you have the relationship to do so or remove yourself from the situation. You need to protect your mental state.
- Unfollow accounts or people that trigger you. You can love someone and not follow them on social media. It’s okay.
- Get therapy or a coach that specifically works with eating disorder recovery. This will help you make every holiday from here on out easier.
This is a hard season for so many. I encourage everyone to be kind. Remember, we are more than the shells that house our souls. Do your best to have a happy, healthy (mentally, physically, spiritually) holiday! And remember, it’s totally okay to eat pie for breakfast on Black Friday!