Mental Health Bites

Coping at Christmas – food for thought

It’s Christmas Day (!) and for many people today is a day of celebration and happiness. However, for those with mental health difficulties or Eating Disorders this time of year can be especially difficult.

As I prepare to sit down for my Christmas dinner I can’t help but think of all those individuals for whom food is a huge challenge. Over the years I have probably spoken to hundreds of people about ‘the Christmas food struggle’; the added pressure to eat in front of people, the change to eating routines, the abundance of rich foods, the frustration of wanting to join in but being unable to and the feeling of isolation caused by the fear that others don’t quite ‘get it’.

I could write in detail about all of the above. I could have made a plethora of posts – but there are already many of them out there – and at this point I just want to tell you that today is just one day.

‘Christmas comes but once a year’ – that means that if you are feeling able to, then you can take a risk and can eat that meal knowing that tomorrow is another day, and another opportunity to start afresh.  You will either succeed, or you will learn a lesson about how to tackle these challenges and do it differently next year. One day of indulgence, or one day being a total food disaster is entirely recoverable from. I believe in your resilience.

If, however the above sounds completely unrealistic or if it is too soon into your recovery journey to contemplate such risk taking – then don’t panic.  Remember, as the slogan says ‘Christmas comes but once a year’; which means that next year you’ll get another opportunity and perhaps by then you’ll be ready. Who knows, maybe by next Christmas you will be well into your recovery and you will be one of those people enjoying the festivities.  I’ve seen it happen, so yes, it can happen for you too. So why not choose that as your goal for 2016.

christmasmoodThat message that ‘today is only one day’ is also important to those of you reading this who are spending the day with someone who struggles with food. I know you just want your loved one to have a good day, to join in and be part of the celebrations… but if they’re having a bad day and not meeting your hopes for today, then please try and keep that message in mind.

Whatever you manage, or don’t, please try and ensure that you try to do something you enjoy today.   Something that makes you smile, however small. Today REALLY isn’t supposed to be all about food!  Therefore, this Christmas let me give you permission to take the pressure off yourself.   Let me remind you that it is okay if it’s not the easiest day, and please try to remember that you don’t have to be perfect.     The only person who expects that is you! ! ! !

I hope you have the best Christmas you can manage.

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