A bell alone can still ring.
Binge eating for Christmas companionship
People who binge eat often isolate. Was that you this Christmas? Were you alone? Did you go into a cave and wait for Christmas to pass by? Did you hope for phone calls and invitations that didn’t come? Did you binge eat and watch TV?
It was worse this year because of Covid. You couldn't go to a movie by yourself. You couldn’t go to an in-person OA meeting or a 12 step marathon to be with people, even if you didn’t know them.
Going to a seminar or workshop so you could be with people celebrating in a way that blended with the workshop theme was too risky this year.
Some of you got sick and stayed in bed under the quilt with hot tea. Some of you wrote letters or wrote in your journal.She made a fire, sat with her animals in the living room and read a book of Christmas stories and legends from around the world. It was nice and the best she could do.
Perhaps some of you, vaccinated and heavily masked, volunteered in your community and helped distribute food or gifts or cheer to people in deprived situations. Some of you were active in your church projects contributing to online musical or dramatic presentations for your membership and local community.
Some of you worked through Christmas Eve or Christmas Day or both.
Reflect now. Did your experience satisfy you or were you compensating for loss? Or both?
How was your day after Christmas?
The day after Christmas can feel like gravity changed on the planet. We can feel as if we moved through some kind of science fiction doorway to a strange world where everything looks familiar but feels alien. We feel real in an unreal world or unreal in a real world.
If you had a satisfying day, even if unconventional, that enriched you and enriched others in some way, this day after Christmas can feel like a day of new hope and strength.
Your new and good feeling may or may not last, but if it happens once it can happen again. You get a window into a kind of pleasant and sturdy but new state of aliveness that could be yours more often.
If you had an unsatisfying day with disappointments, unfulfilled expectations, fear, isolation and a sense of great deprivation you may feel relieved the day after because Christmas is over.
Yet you may also feel terrible about yourself and accuse yourself of being unworthy and undeserving of love and the warmth of friends and human companionship.
Reflect: Eating disorders are notorious for fueling catastrophic thoughts. Can you find a balance where you can accept your suffering and hopeful possibilities at the same time?
Grounding is a way to care for yourself
If you feel good, ground that good feeling in positive action. Create something while you are in the feeling.
Yes, you could write or paint or sculpt or compose a song.
You can also write letters or e-mails to people you care about, to people you would like to know better, to people you appreciate but never told them your appreciated.
You can start a project you’ve meant to begin but kept postponing.
You can make phone calls and make plans with people for the near future including today.
Building beyond the binge eating limits
If you do such things while you are in your good feeling, you will ground that feeling in you and let it flow into the world at the same time. Benefits will come to you in surprising ways that will lessen your need for your eating disorder.
If you feel bad, your goal is to bring yourself into a healthy alignment with your environment. You are out of balance and believe lies you tell yourself about yourself.
You may feel that there is little or nothing to hold on to or call on to bring you into a less painful place. To come to a good place may be unimaginable in your present state.
You need to ground yourself. You need to break up the awful fantasies that flood your mind and drain your energy by bringing yourself to a solid place here in the world.
Grounding through your body
- Pay attention to your body, even though your chest may ache and you may be trembling with anxiety or sorrow.
- Breathe and watch your breath. Follow your breath with your mind as your breath moves through your lungs and your cells bringing much needed oxygen and life force to your body.
- Move. If you have a practice like yoga or dance or sport exercise, do it.
- If not, simply move. Get out of bed or off the couch.
- Walk. Walk around your home or in your neighborhood or in a park or on the beach. When the pandemic passes you can include a museum.
- Get your body moving in safe open places. Keep watching your breath.
- Pay attention to what your body notices.
- Notice different feelings coming through the bottom of your feet as you walk on different kinds of ground.
Pay attention to your skin as you feel the different temperatures and textures of the air.
Pay attention to your ears and eyes and what you hear and see in the world around you.
The days right after Christmas are unwritten, uncelebrated, uncategorized. They could be like a blank page or blank canvas where you can get yourself grounded and give yourself a new start in a new way. You could begin a life where your eating disorder played only a bit part that was about to be written out of the play completely.
Give yourself the Christmas present you yearn for: a new beginning.
See: Eating Disorder Slips over the Holidays
Joanna Poppink, MFT, is a psychotherapist in private practice specalizing in eating disorder recovery. All appointments are virtual. For a free telephone consultation e-mail her at
Image by Peggychoucair from Pixabay