Posts Tagged ‘Eating’

6 Ways to Survive the Holidays with an Eating Disorder

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

Magnificent as they are, the holidays can be stressful for anyone. But for the 30 million women and men in America who struggle with an eating disorder, the most wonderful time of the year can also be a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency, as Clark Griswold would say. I speak from experience: As someone who has battled anorexia and exercise addiction for well over a decade, that the extreme focus on food and eating, often accompanied by well-meaning but nonetheless insensitive comments, can be some tough shit.

For example, it’s not ideal when dear Aunt Carole won’t shut up about having to increase her crazy workouts to “work off all that ‘nog,” or how she just ordered a three-month supply of skinny tea to detox from the holidays and maybe you should too, or how she should really look into laxatives this time of year (the latter of which was actually said to me, if you can believe it 🙄), and you’re sitting there just trying to finish your pie without putting her face in it. These types of discussions can make staying on a recovery-oriented path even harder than it already is. So, Aunt Carole, take your skinny tea, rev up the RV, and hightail it back to Florida—please and thank you.

“When the holidays turn into something to ‘get through’ rather than something to look forward to and celebrate, something has gone terribly wrong,” says Carolyn Costin, MA, MEd, MFT, CEDS, FAED, founder of Monte Nido & Affiliates, a premiere eating disorder treatment center with locations across the United States. “For those who already struggle with food and body image, the holidays pose additional anxiety and pressure above what already exists during this season. The stress of the holidays, combined with the amount of food that’s involved, raises the stakes for anxiety and depression to take hold.”

I have always loved this time of year but when I had anorexia the holidays took on a whole new meaning.

MORE: How I Fought Back Against Mental Health Stigma

Costin knows all too well—she has not only treated patients with eating disorders for over 30 years and become one of the most prominent eating disorder therapists in the country, but she also recovered from the disease herself. “I have always loved this time of year but when I had anorexia the holidays took on a whole new meaning,” she says. “I still loved everything about the holidays, but the food part terrified me for days leading up to and after the holidays were over.”

To make things a bit easier, Costin offers the following tips (pie in the face is, unfortunately, not one of them):

Find ways to think differently about what the holidays could mean to you.
Rather than becoming nervous and upset under the stress and expectations, see the holidays as a time to be creative and do things you like to do and wouldn’t ordinarily take the time for. Make homemade holiday cards and presents, give clothing to homeless shelters, get together for caroling, help a needy family who can’t afford a tree or gifts, or go spend some time in nature. All of these things will turn your attention to tasks that are in the true spirit of thankfulness and giving.

Avoid commenting on anyone’s weight or food intake, and plan how to respond if people comment on yours.
Come up with a few statements that you could say that are kind and would apply in most situations. Practice saying them.

Put things into perspective.
Issues of food and weight need to take their proper place. Even if you have problems in this area, eating, weight, and body shape are not the most important thing about who you are, nor do they define your precious life. Remember that a holiday party, and the holidays in general, only last a short period of time. Keep in mind the most important things that matter to you in your life.

Eating, weight and body shape are not the most important thing about who you are, nor do they define your precious life.

MORE: 17 Awesome Celeb Quotes About Self-Love

Balance is the key.
There are no bad foods, just bad eating behaviors. Eat in moderation and don’t deny yourself anything you really want. Avoid all or nothing and black and white thinking and behavior; it usually backfires. Plan for a time when you will want to eat something you think you shouldn’t. Don’t diet to prepare for the holidays—eat a balanced diet, which naturally fluctuates.

Plan ahead.
If you’re going to attend a party, eat well before going, and then enjoy some delicious treats at the party, too. Don’t restrict ahead of time to “save” up because there will be tempting food there.

Most importantly, if you eat more than planned, stop negative self-talk or judgment and talk to yourself like a friend or therapist would.
Accept it. Love yourself anyway and move on. Try the next thing. This is a learning and growing process.

A version of this article was originally published in December 2016.


Demi Lovato Shares Powerful Before-and-After Photo Documenting Eating Disorder Recovery

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Demi Lovato is having one heck of a year. She dropped her YouTube documentary, “Simply Complicated,” to critical acclaim. Her sixth album, Tell Me You Love Me, is racing up the charts. And in August, she released her second fashion line with Fabletics and Kate Hudson. But, as impressive as her professional accomplishments are, the 25-year-old singer’s proudest feat is likely the happy place she is right now with her life and her health.

On Wednesday, Lovato—who has been open about her battle with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia—shared a powerful before-and-after photo documenting her struggle. The photo, captioned “Then” and “Now,” showed two shots of Lovato—one, in the depths of her eating disorder, and another, while in recovery. She captioned the Instagram photo, “Recovery is possible.”

Demi Lovato

Photo: Instagram

MORE: How Demi Lovato Wants to Help Shatter Unrealistic Body Standards For Women

Lovato’s Instagram comes a day before the debut of her YouTube documentary, in which she delves deeper into her eating disorder battle. In the film, Lovato explained that she went three years without purging (self-induced vomiting) while dating actor Wilmer Valderrama. However, after the couple broke up in June 2016, the singer revealed that she “immediately” relapsed.

“When I was in a relationship with Wilmer I went three years without purging and when we broke up that’s one of the first things I did,” Lovato said. “The less I have to think about food, the easier it is to go about having a normal life and I don’t want to let anybody down so when I do have moments when I slip up, I feel very ashamed. What started the relapse was missing Wilmer. And when I feel lonely my heart feels hungry and I end up binging.”

MORE: Is It Possible to Ever Fully Recover from an Eating Disorder?

The singer also detailed how body image has been on her mind since she was a young child. She recalled a time when she would bake cookies and eat the entire batch herself as the moment she started using food therapeutically.

“I would bake cookies for my family and I would eat all of them and nobody would have any to eat,” she said. “That was my first memory of food being that medicine for me,” she said. “Food is still the biggest challenge in my life and it controls—I don’t want to give it the power to say it controls my every thought, but it’s something that I’m constantly thinking about.”

And though Lovato admits she’snow  in a better place, after finding solace at the gym and becoming stronger, she acknowledges that her recovery from an eating disorder may be a lifelong process.

“Body image, what I’m going to eat next, what I wish I could be eating, what I wish I didn’t eat,” she said. “It’s just constant. Like I get envious toward people that don’t struggle with an eating disorder just because I feel like my life would be so much easier.”

If Lovato isn’t the epitome of strength, we don’t know what is. Congratulations to her on her inspiring recovery.