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I used to dream of a bulimia free Christmas... A day that was based around love and celebration.
All the Christmases that I could remember had been so different. Frantic, rushing from one meal to the next, from one binge to another. Gorging on whatever I could and trying to find excuses to be alone so that I could sneak away and purge. By the end of the day I would feel exhausted, angry and in physical pain.
This isn't what Christmas is supposed to be like.
I still remember my first Christmas binge and purge free. It was the most brilliant Christmas gift I could ever have asked for. I spent the day talking and laughing with the people I loved, eating delicious but normal portions of food and enjoying all the little moments I had missed in years before.
Christmas was beautiful, just the way it should be. That's not to say it was a day without any challenges though - it was early on in my recovery journey and so I had to take a few precautions...
Here are 3 things I did to help me achieve a bulimia free Christmas. I hope that they help you too!
Those of you who are members of my Online bulimia recovery program will know I am a big advocate for structured eating in recovery. In short, this means eating 3 meals and 2-3 snacks spaced 3 hours apart, daily. Having this structure helps to ease food related anxiety because you know that food is not far away. ('fear of famine' is one of the main causes of bulimia, you can read about in more detail here.)
Obviously it's not really possible to plan Christmas day as clearly as a normal day with it's normal routine, but some planning is still important...
For example, it's important to know a rough time line of what you'll be doing for the day and when the 'eating' parts of the day will be. It's important to pencil in those meal times and to plan more or less what you will eat during them. This can be as specific or as vague as you feel you need.
Here's an example of what I did...
We had 3 different events to go to so I decided that I would:
By the end of the day I was most definitely full (especially as my tummy was still getting used to digesting!) but I wasn't so full that I felt I had to purge. I was able to hold it down and enjoy the entire day. I spent quality time with my loved ones and I felt so incredibly blessed to, 1) have such special people in my life and 2) Be on the road to bulimia recovery and a bulimia free life.
Planning (even in the rough way that I did) is important on Christmas day and other holidays where food plays a big role. It helped me to have a bulimia free Christmas and it will help you too! Please make the time to plan :)
Also remember that if plans change, just allow yourself some time alone (10 minutes is enough) just to think the day through and re-plan.
A couple of days before the first Christmas of my bulimia recovery - I wrote a letter to myself. The letter was completely pro-recovery and I reinforced why it was so important that I kept food down on Christmas day. I reminded myself of what Christmas was really about (Love!) and reinforced what I was working towards... A beautiful life of freedom!
I made sure that the letter to myself was positive and uplifting... I reminded myself that:
I finished off by writing...
"I will allow myself to enjoy this day, to enjoy the food in planned portions and to enjoy the love of my family and friends. I will LOVE myself today and show my love to everyone around me... Today is about the love"
Then, on Christmas morning, I read this letter to myself. I allowed myself to absorb each and every word I'd written. I allowed myself to feel it.
Over the course of Christmas day, I sat quietly a few more times to read this letter... Reminding myself of all the things that were truly important.
I would love for you to do the same, because having this reminder and motivation is so helpful.
I'm writing this today (the 18th of December) and Christmas is less than a week away. Today or the coming days is the perfect time to write to yourself. In fact, now is ideal, because then you won't forget ;)
Wearing tight clothes on a day where there's going to be a fair amount of eating is a recipe for disaster. Please don't put yourself into this position! Give yourself the best possible shot of having a beautiful Christmas day and a large part of that will be dressing sensibly.
Dressing sensibly doesn't mean you have to look like a fuddy-duddy... But it does mean that you'll need 'a bit of give' in your clothing...
This might be trousers with a stretch waistband, loose pants, a loose baby doll shirt or a flowy dress. Whatever you decide to wear, please keep in mind that almost everybody (people in recovery and non bulimics alike) have bellies that expand over Christmas day. That is the nature of celebrations that have a lot of emphasis on food - It is normal and your body will deal with that food when you go to sleep on Christmas night.
Plan your Christmas day outfit now and remember to dress for success!
Christmas is about love. The love for your family, for Jesus (if you're a Christian) and most importantly, the Love for yourself...
Make a pact with yourself this Christmas that Love will rule the day.
You can allow love to rule the day by starting right now...
Wishing you a beautiful Christmas and a new year full of recovery!
Lots of love,
Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of your-bulimia-recovery.com
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community