Synonymous with gorging oneself on immense quantities of food and drink, for those of us in eating disorder recovery, Thanksgiving can be a stressful time. However, you don't have to suffer. There are some simple ways you can navigate Thanksgiving in eating disorder recovery, and they all involve one key strategy.
Coping Skills for Eating Disorder Recovery
The year 2020 has been stressful and overwhelming across the entire globe. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, the racial injustices, the political tensions, and the economic downturn, my level of anxiety builds each time I read the news or log into social media. This information overload can exhaust my mental health, but as I continuously must remind myself: stress does not justify an eating disorder relapse.
In November of 2019, I moved to Arizona where the mountains and desert landscape are right outside my window. Before that, I lived in Florida, about 10 minutes away from the Gulf of Mexico's turquoise ocean and sugar-white sand. I always feel the most alive and at peace when I am outside, so it stands to reason, nature is my first line of defense in eating disorder recovery.
The suicidal thoughts that plagued my mind in the throes of my eating disorder recovery were expected. I hated my body. I hated myself. I hated my life and the society in which I lived that kept telling me I was not enough. One thing I did not expect was to still feel suicidal thoughts during my eating disorder recovery. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
It's not exactly a shock that eating disorders can wreak long-term havoc on how the body functions—even as the behaviors subside and a healthy weight is achieved. But did you know there is a correlation between eating disorders and issues with metabolic rate?
If you have a history of eating disorder behaviors or mindsets, then you have most likely body checked yourself, or stood in front of a mirror and scrutinized your reflection with a severe and merciless eye. Chances are, you understand how it feels to wither beneath your own cruel gaze which repeatedly dissects the size, weight, shape, and curvature of a frame that will never be adequate to you. This ritual is known as compulsive body checking, and it can worsen your eating disorder tendencies. But if that toxic pattern sounds familiar, rest assured, it is possible to break yourself of a compulsive body checking habit.
Binge eating at night is a problem for just about everyone who has the luxury of steady access to food, whether they are in eating disorder recovery or not. However, for those of us in recovery, these nighttime binges can be detrimental to our progress.
Before offering my advice, most loved of those in eating disorder recovery want to know how they can help, but understandably, people aren't always sure where to go for it. In this video, I talk about the one thing that well-meaning, but misguided, loved ones would do that has undercut my confidence in recovery.
It's normal to feel afraid in eating disorder recovery. After all, it's scary to arrive at a crossroads between the familiar identity of an eating disorder and the unknown quantity of healing. You have a choice to either remain in the destructive, yet comfortable, patterns of your illness or to embark on a new path that is rife with challenges but leads to freedom on the other side. This decision is yours alone to make, but if you choose to brave that road to health and wholeness, the question then becomes: How do you face down fears in eating disorder recovery?
Are you all too familiar with the inner eating disorder voice's monologue which tries to convince you that self-worth can only be achieved with a perfect body? This critical, insidious whisper does not come from you—it's the influence of an eating disorder that aims to control your decisions and undermine your wholeness. But a foundational part of recovery is learning how to both identify and confront the eating disorder voice in your head.