As someone who struggles with disordered eating, the festive season can be a stressful time. Like many people, years alternating between restricting and binging have left me with a difficult relationship with food. Even that phrase bugs me a little… I suspect if eating is just a normal part of everyday life, the idea of a relationship with food, disordered or otherwise, sounds a bit peculiar. But there it is. A daily struggle that gets that much trickier at this time of year.
So for anyone in the same boat, here are my top tips for dealing with and preventing holiday binge eating. Just to clarify… This isn’t a post about restricting yourself around those festive treats. Not at all. It’s about preventing the kind of binge eating that leaves you feeling uncomfortable, out of control and unhappy so you can enjoy the festivities all the more.
1. Have a plan
If you know that binge eating is a problem for you, especially at this time of year, it’s worth taking a little time to create your own binge prevention plan. This needn’t take long. Maybe it’s just ten minutes sat down identifying any situations you think might trigger you. Perhaps think about times you binged over the holidays last year and what you could do to prevent that happening again. Grab a pen and paper and brainstorm a few ideas. You might just be glad you did.
So what kind of ideas might appear on that plan of yours? Well here are a few of mine…
2. Have enjoyable activities ready to keep your hands and mind busy.
For me, I’m most at risk of binging when I’m either unhappy, stressed or just downright bored. Sat around after Christmas dinner (feeling full… another trigger) can involve a lot of doing not very much. I’m not the kinda gal who can sit and watch TV without something else to occupy my wandering little brain cells. I need something else to do to stop me binging: engaging and enjoyable activities that can be done whilst sat on the sofa chatting away to friends and family. These could include:
- Colouring (there’s a huuuuuge range of adult colouring books out there at the moment, devoted to everything theme under the sun). It’s all the rage and very therapeutic apparently!
- Cross-stitch or other crafty fun. Maybe you can knit or crochet. Or if that’s not your thing (I can’t knit to save my life!) you could get one of many little Christmas craft kits available at hobby craft and such places. Whip up a friendship bracelet or try your hand at a Christmas decoration to store away for next year.
- Writing your thank you cards or fill in important dates in that new diary your mum bought you. You could write everyone’s birthdays in your new calendar.
- Playing a board game. Break open the monopoly, jigsaw, game of cards, cluedo etc.
3. Try to identify and avoid stressful scenarios before they happen.
Buy and wrap those presents before midnight on Christmas Eve (that one gets me every year!), take a supportive friend/partner with you to visit any tricky relatives (you know the ones) and schedule in some much-needed you time amid the many hectic holiday happenings.
4. Get enough sleep and consider not getting toooo drunk.
I’m not going to say abstain from alcohol. I’m not going to say abstain from anything. However, if you’re like me and you know too much wine means you’re going to get the munchies big time and forget all the reasons you wanted to avoid that binge, maybe limit the tipsy time. Tiredness can be a big trigger too, so making a special effort to catch enough zzzzzzz can be crucial.
5. Make a list of things you enjoy about the festive season that don’t involve food.
There’s nothing at all wrong with enjoying tasty Christmassy treats, but if you struggle with eating issues, thoughts and worries about food can get overwhelming and even intrusive. Try making a list of fun holiday activities or just things you enjoy about the season that aren’t food related.
For example, I love being snug inside with my Christmas pjs, scented candles lit, relaxing in the warm. I enjoy the frosty weather, decorating the house, decorating the tree or picking out the perfect pressie for that special someone. None of those involve food and they’re all fab nevertheless. Remembering there are other aspects to the season can help balance out your perspective and prevent overwhelm.
I hope these tips will be helpful for you over the coming weeks. Feel free to share any tips of your own in the comments!
Till next time 🙂 xx