For most people with an eating disorder, Thanksgiving is a very dangerous day. Supposedly, it’s a day devoted to giving thanks, Día de Acción de Gracias. I like the Spanish name for the day because it seems to emphasise the giving of thanks, not the eating of turkey. In the culture of the US, Thanksgiving is more about eating than anything else. We call it Turkey Day.
Well, as you can imagine a day focused on eating is problematic for someone with an eating disorder. Add to that the loaded emotional scene you get when you return home, visit relatives, gather with friends, or spend the day by yourself. It is very important to have a plan for this day.
- eat breakfast
- rake leaves
- eat snack
- decorate front yard for xmas
- eat lunch
- more decorating? Pulguito nap. Quiet activities for Chunguita
- head to David’s. Pick up Debbie on way.
- For dinner, I can have one serving of everything. The server can be no larger than my fist. I will not eat potatoes (don’t like), and I will not eat white bread (I’m not getting enough protein, and I can’t if I fill up on bread.)
- Karaoke? Hm, do we still have the machine. This would be a good activity w/brother who sings.
- Dessert. If Esther makes one thing, I can have one serving as served by another person. If there are several desserts, I can have a small bit of each. Then I must move away from the desserts.
- Take no leftovers? I will have to talk to DH about this. He likes having the turkey. Turkey really isn’t a problematic food for me, but we will only take some if he wants to. We will avoid taking other food. We shall not take dessert.
My plan focuses on food because that is my problem area. I don’t have a difficult time emotionally with holidays. I love sitting around talking with my family, assuming the kids let us talk. However, if your problematic area includes talking and boundary issues, your plan must focus on those things.
For example, does Greataunt Bertha come up to you and say, “Lordy, girl! You are so thin!”
Maybe Grandpa says, “Well, Jennifer, it looks like you really packed on the pounds over the last year.” (He probably wouldn’t say that exactly, but that’s what I would hear.)
These two comments are terrible invasions. My therapists recommends saying something like “I really prefer not to talk about my body.” If that doesn’t work, you have to be ready to either say, “Stop, I will leave if you continue.” and/or to leave. This behavior is taking care of yourself. You can also ask a trusted person, and hopefully you have one, to intervene for you. Or you can be aggressively flip like me and say, “Well, that’s a really personal comment; as long as we’re getting personal, did you masterbate last night?”
Does your family sit around the table and say things like, “This food is so bad for us.” “I can feel my arteries clogging.” “I’m going to have to work out extra hard tomorrow.” “I just know I’ll gain weight from today.”
This can be very triggering, and most of it is false. But I think the best way out of this is to point out that they are denegrating the cook by doing this. Are they here present to talk trash about the food (which reflects on the host/cook) or are they there to give thanks and appreciate what they have.
Another touchy area for some is the fact that they have been focusing on getting well, and they don’t know what to say when people ask, “So what’cha been up to?” I know I would rather not say, “I spent the last year battling my eating disorder.” I like the response, “Same ol’, same ol’; how about you?” People usualy love talking about themselves. Bring up politics, breastfeeding in public, circumcism, … okay, maybe not. Ask people about themselves: “How’s the house/kids/dog/job/investments/whatever?”