Eating Disorder Self Care after New Years: Five Tips


Eating Disorder Self Care after New Years: Five Tips
New Year’s Aftermath: You and your eating disorder crash

A few weeks after New Year’s can be tough. Fantasies around New Year’s may be more powerful than Christmas wishes. New Year’s is often a time of hope for the end of eating disorder symptoms. You want to start the new year fresh. You won’t binge or purge or restrict in this bright new year. This will be your new beginning.

But remember, an eating disorder gives you an immediate action with an immediate consequence. When you step into recovery, patients and enduring commitment is necessary. Living with an active eating disorder is different from living within recovery mode. You may need to give yourself time and develop tolerance of your discomfort. This is new.

The Blush of the New Year Fades

In the first few weeks you discover, as we all do, that instant or simply fast changes for the better

are rare. The reality of our world is more powerful than the wish for quick fantasy fulfillment. The pandemic is still roaring. Political polarization still grips the people in this country, including family and neighbors. Our environment is suffering. Crime is up. Stock market is coming down. Inflation is on the rise.

And you are still who you are, with the power you have within your own being. Please know, that’s a good thing.

Reality is Still Here

The best way to deal with reality is to be the best you can be. In Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear learns to his dismay, that his supersonic space hero powers are fantasies. They do not work in reality. But his heart, health, determination, caring and belief in himself are not fantasies. They are as real as reality and see him through his challenges.

Power, love, safety, confidence, and opportunity do not emerge because you have an eating disorder. Health and a knowing of your own reality, sharing yourself with honesty create the basics for a rich and fulfilling life.

The turn of a page on a calendar can bring a new appreciation for what you need now. What you need is you. You need you supporting the best within you so you can develop beyond your present limits to have the life you want.

Wishes and hopes

  • the beginning of a new and true love.
  • be recognized as the quality person you are
  • welcome peace and opportunity in your life.

When those wishes and hopes don't come true as the New Year begins, your disappointment can be intense. That disappointment can bring on a state of depression where you have low energy and just want to cry alone with your best friend – your eating disorder and massive self-criticisms. 

Your big and vital task is to wait

Please, hold out. You might be hung over from too much of everything over the holiday. You might be exhausted from activity and tension. You might be frightened because of the sudden transition from holiday to quiet regular life. Maybe you are experiencing all three.

Give yourself a chance

Give yourself a chance to adapt to the shifts your mind, heart, body and emotions need to make after the holidays. Fantasies are falling. Real life is returning. Let yourself be real in this real life.

New Year’s Tips

The following recovery tips are not a cure for bulimia or anorexia or binge eating. They are a way to catch hold of some health and stability so you can take the steps necessary for solid recovery. That’s something you can hold onto for the entire new year.

Coping Tips

Five important tips that help and that all of us may tend to forget:

1.     Don't get too hungry.

2.     Don't get too thirsty.

3.     Don't get too tired. Hunger, dehydration, and fatigue will play havoc with your emotions, your ability to think and your ability to perceive realistically.

4.     Give yourself a few days of eating three healthy meals a day, drinking 6 - 8 glasses of water a day and getting eight hours of sleep at night.

5.     Journal. Write your thoughts, your feelings, your complaints, and your wishes on a regular basis. At first you may not know what to write or be reluctant to cry into the page or fill it with self-criticisms. Keep going, including to do lists and dreams. Eventually you’ll find surprising value there.

These five steps support your brain health and your ability to perceive without falling into repetitive self doubting thoughts. Each helps you take positive steps toward reaching your New Year's wishes by first stepping toward your own health and recovery.

Joanna Poppink, MFT, is a psychotherapist in private practice specializing in eating disoder recovery. All appointments are virtual. For a free telephone consultation e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Author of This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder

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