The holidays are here, and for those who struggle with eating disorders or negative self-image this time of year can get pretty real. Some of my worst memories of anorexia involve the holidays, and so my recovery present to you (and me!) is an advent calendar to tell eating disorder culture to back off.
Repeat aloud: I am adequate just as I am. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Notice the feeling of your body, and praise it.
Donate the ‘skinny’ clothes in your closet.
Repeat aloud: I deserve to enjoy food, including holiday foods made for celebration or given to me as a gift. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Silently thank yourself for the affirmation.
Take Instagram off your phone for a week. (Okay it’s not realistic as the month goes on, so try now!) If a week is too much, take three days off. Notice how you feel not looking at pictures of other people.
Repeat aloud: I deserve to eat food I don’t normally eat without fear of having to punish myself for it. Visualize your favorite holiday foods with love in your heart. If you feel fear or anger, imagine yourself bopping the feeling over the head with a mallet, Whack-A-Mole style.
Grab a pen, and write down three unhealthy behaviors or thoughts you’ve had that beat up your body. Rip up the paper and throw it in the trash.
Repeat aloud: I deserve to eat before and after holiday meals, without engaging in other behaviors to ‘make up’ for those meals. Visualize what the days immediately before and after your holidays will look like, and imagine three square meals and the snacks you need to stay fueled. Then, look in the mirror and blow yourself a kiss!
Take a #diet break — mute the people on social media who take pictures of their weird weight loss foods. They’ll never know.
Put the emphasis on hunger where it belongs: Donate or volunteer to support your local food bank.
Take yourself for a walk outside. Breathe deep (through your mask). Appreciate your body and its ability to move you through this beautiful Earth.
Come up with a one-liner to talk back to negative self-talk about your body. Then, keep using it. (When I had anorexia, I developed “Shut up, you’re trying to kill me,” and I still use it as needed.)
Write a list of 50 cool things your body has allowed you to do, and doodle pretty pictures in the margins.
Hide diet advertisements from your feed.
Sit in a comfortable position, and do a body scan, noticing how you feel all over your body, area by area. It’s harder to hate a body that you are appreciating piece by piece.
Make a body-affirming playlist!
Prepare a short response for family members or friends who make a comment about your body or your food choices, such as, “I’m just fine, thank you.”
Gift yourself a dessert you wouldn’t be ashamed to leave out for Santa.
Carve out three minutes to meditate in silence, appreciating your body.
Take your eating disorder or negative self-image for a walk to take out the trash, and literally push your arms toward the dumpster, saying, “be gone.”
Evaluate relationships that may no longer be serving you, particularly with people who may make you feel bad about yourself, and develop an action plan to deal with them.
Write a thank-you note to your therapist for the ways they have helped you see your body in a new way. (Don’t have a therapist? Research to find a body-positive one!)
Think of someone you respect who seems comfortable in their body. Journal about what seems to make it work for them.
Cancel your gym membership. I don’t care if they have hand sanitizer by the door, we’re in the middle of a freaking pandemic! Bonus avoidance: January in the gym is a self-image hell hole.
Set a new year’s resolution to love yourself and love your body. Praise it for getting you through 2020, the worst year of so many people’s lives.