Yes, that time of year is arriving again,
where for many of you and your families, food is a huge part of celebrating. Many may think of the wonderful smells and tastes while being surrounded by
loved ones, yet for some of you, it is a very different picture. Those with eating disordered behaviors
such as bingeing, vomiting or laxative ingestion after meals, heavy restricting with food, over-exercising or simply constant overeating when not hungry often DREAD the holiday season. Some deal with this
overwhelming anxiety (one may not even be aware of why he or she is so on edge), by over-planning each meal or event in advance; obsessively counting carbs calories or fat grams, and coming up with
strategies to avoid explaining to others why they are not eating certain things, or just pretend to eat like
everyone else so they will go unnoticed. In addition, much intense focus for anorexics goes into "How
am I going to not eat no matter what?" Or, in the case of one who binges and then excuses themselves
for a period of time to purge the food, the planning may be more like, "I must set up how I can get in and out of the bathroom unnoticed and where I can hide my stash of food." Others may eat
unconsciously without stopping until they feel past the point of fullness, almost going into a type of
numbness, followed by a sense of shame, and self disgust, and resolve to begin a "diet" tomorrow. All of this comes often comes
alongside of comments or teasing from some family members or friends. Even if these behaviors are pointed out in a well meaning
way, if the comments come across as judgmental or as poking fun at the person, it can feel quite humiliating and hurtful which
simply drives him or her to start the cycle of Self hate, out of control eating, bingeing or starving and purging, all over again. These
acts are hard to just stop once started because they pull you out of your body and awareness.
I use the word out of control to contrast the feeling you may have that others are attempting to control you. This can be one
component of why you have any of the above behaviors around food. It is important to remember that it can be difficult to feel totally
independent around family or certain people you grew up with, even if you love them to pieces. Sometimes you might find yourself
taking this feeling with you into other relationships outside of the family, even work and school situations. If things begin overwhelm
you, reverting to the same eating styles you are unhappy with can happen. However some get a lot of support or help for
themselves or from a professional who works with eating issues and find they can become healthier and begin to be at peace
within. Even so, the holiday time of year itself or, once again just being around situations that revoke memories conjuring up
powerlessness around food and self image kick up the old control or counter control ("I'll show you, you can't control me! I'll eat whatever I want!") urges and the struggle begins.
The most important thing to remember is that there is always another way to do it and it takes a lot of without blame of others or self-punishing and shaming. Listen to your wise body around times of eating anything, as well as how you use
and take care of your body. Be aware of your feelings about yourself before you get into the height of the season. Find ways to stay centered without forgetting to stay in touch with your
truest self when around others that bring up your body image related fears. Remember you are so much more than how you look in your clothes. You have so much to offer the world that
goes far beyond your appearance. Sure, we all want to look healthy and present our best and it is normal to have some concerns when looking at our appearance because we are
bombarded with media and those who fall for the popular image every day! Yet when you come into your own acceptance and eventually develop strengths in how you want to live your life in
a way that holds meaning, you will shine!!! Exercise and appropriate nutrition are significant, but the results on lasting health of body and self-acceptance have more of a chance of
permanence, when paired with a reason to love having yourself here.
There is so much more I could share on body image, your life's passion and self
empowerment. Look for more soon, and I welcome the chance to work with you in person. Until next time, treat yourselves like gold and find others to be around that support and even adore you!
All the Best, Carol Jaron, MFT