Warning for discussion of my struggle with an eating disorder.
My close Friend describes me as “if Christmas was a person”; I truly am insanely festive. The second Halloween is dismissed, I am blasting festive tunes, preparing my list for Santa and snuggling into the cosiest Christmas sweaters I can find. I love every aspect of Christmas, from the lights, to the movies, to the presents and time with my family. However, there is still one aspect of this season that I am working on letting myself enjoy- the food. When your brain has antagonised certain foods, it can be a challenge to simply enjoy the festive treats and meals.
I remember last Christmas, sat at the table with my Mum and sister. The second my lunch was placed in front of me, my brain went into calculator mode. I categorised the “good” and “bad” foods, feeling my heart sink as the bad overruled the good. I could feel my sisters nervous eyes on me, hoping that I would not freak out. I concealed my fear and took a bite, feeling the delicious taste in my mouth. I knew restraining myself from eating this was practically impossible; it all tasted amazing. So I finished the meal and what followed was an insane amount of guilt, guilt I did not need to have because it was Christmas for god sake! Why did I feel so disappointed in myself for having a meal at Christmas? I spent the rest of the day trying to focus on enjoying my favourite holiday, yet my eating disorder had consumed the majority of my thoughts, criticising how much food I had consumed. I sat in front of the television, barely focusing on the awful episode of Doctor Who playing, instead recapping everything I had eaten and how I would make up for it the next day. I could only feel better if I redeemed myself.
I want to say that this year will be different, that I have progressed enough to just enjoy the treats I will receive on Christmas. Unfortunately, I know it will be a challenging day for me as recovery is still a distance away… possibly visible, but still a distance. I will try to focus on the other aspects, allow myself to grin at the lights on our tree and “Fairytale of New York” blasting from my sisters speakers for what feels like the millionth time. I will smile as my Mum opens her presents, gleaming at what she’s received. Christmas should be a time for happiness and not a time for feeling guilty for emptying my plate. So to anyone struggling with an eating disorder this holiday, I know how stressful it will be, but we will be okay. We don’t deserve to feel ashamed for enjoying taste over nutrition values.
I’m setting a goal this holiday to try and eat a festive treat that has always terrified me, and possibly as a Christmas miracle, I will achieve it!