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If you suffer from an eating disorder now or have in the past, please email Joanna for a free telephone consultation.


Eating Disorder Recovery
Joanna Poppink, MFT
Eating Disorder Recovery Psychotherapist
serving Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon and Utah.
All appointments are virtual.
To prepare for Christmas challenges we need to look at the powerful impulses that rise up in you. These are the impulses that can and do knock any planned strategy to the side as you rush for the soothing food that promises to put you at ease.
Knowing what you're up against is an excellent way to prepare a successful get in and stay in-recovery Christmas that you will enjoy in surprising new ways.
You may worry about the array of binge food that will be available at Christmas, even pressed upon you by generous hosts and family members. But it's not the food that is the issue, is it?  Your urges, your impulses, your anxieties that seem only to be soothed by food are the real concerns.

My last post discussed your eating disorder rituals.  If you missed it, look at it now and then come back here. Those rituals are "after the fact" activities.  Your burning craving and need is what propels you into the food. If you recognize this you can build an effective beginning recovery strategy.  If you don't you'll have a great food plan in place and you'll feel like a guilty failure when your unaddressed and undefined urges sweep the plan away.

Kate LePage over at Suite 202 has a comprehensive article about maintaining eating disorder recovery over Christmas. She says:

Christmas is possibly the most feared time of the year for those battling with eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, EDNOS and compulsive eating. The huge emphasis placed on food throughout the holiday season can make sticking to a meal plan much more challenging.

I agree with her sentiments and think her food strategies are healthy.  But she is not writing about maintaining recovery. She's writing about controlling behavior as it relates specifically to food. Her suggestions are fine and useful if your primary anxiety issues are tended with sensitivity, honesty and courage.
The heart of an eating disorder is based on an internal psychological development phase or phases that you missed. This developmental glitch is different for every person  Some have major sections that fell behind because the eating disorder filled in.  Some have a wide scattering of developmental "holes." The person never knows when she is going to step into such a hole and be anxious beyond bearing.
Knowing this you can look at where you feel inadequate or less than. Anytime you feel inadequate there's a possibility that you are in a state that touches on a psychological zone in you that needs support and nurturing so you can develop more.  If you don't know this, you will reach for your eating disorder behaviors to get you through the anxiety.
In advance of Christmas, please take a look at where you often feel inadequate or less than when you are in the holiday situation.  Those are your internal areas where you need to grow.
Do you have trouble saying "no" when confronted, however lovingly and gently, by a friend or family member?
Can you effectively support your own need for privacy?
If something goes wrong do you automatically believe it's your fault?
These are just three examples, and they cover a lot of emotional territory.  You may be able to think of more.  Journal about them and discover what plan you can create now, in advance, for Christmas and beyond to help you get what you need. 
You know you don't really need a binge on Christmas treats to give you the support you need.  What could really help you get through those trying times? Ask yourself this question in your journal and let yourself answer it.  You have more wisdom in you than you know.

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