Holiday Hang Up or Happiness: What’s Your Choice this Year?

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Holiday Hang Up or Happiness: What’s Your Choice this Year?

This blog post represents the author’s views and should not be interpreted as professional/medical advice or endorsed by NEDA.

 By Ethan Feinstein

It’s no mystery who the main character is in most holiday traditions. Family recipes and elaborate platters are put on the table and are center pieces of get togethers. Post barbecue season, we’re quickly in the holiday fast lane starting with Thanksgiving and ending the year with a final feast. Through at least the end of the year, it can feel like food is the main attraction and primary focus. 

Navigating the holidays, and the many lavish meals that come along with it, can be a daunting time of year when you’ve struggled with food related or body image issues. It is difficult to find ways to control what’s going on in the world, but this year I hope that type of focus brings about appreciation for the dinner plate and the people you love.

Every time you turn on the TV or open your phone, you’re exposed to another unimaginable news headline. The constant external anxieties we’re all experiencing can easily become internalized and weigh us down. Whether the next course at the holiday dinner makes you uneasy, or if it’s a different stressor out of your control, when you struggle with an eating disorder, you may crave  for a sense of control. This can play out in eating disorder behaviors, all in an effort to find a place of quiet or peace.

When you’re hyper focused on your body image and when you’re food obsessed, it’s all about control. You feel like you gain a sense of power because when you’re in an environment that feels like it’s spinning out of control, you might think there is only one thing you can manage and that is yourself. When struggling, maybe your focus goes to unhealthy mental and physical habits, but the bright side is that you have the strength inside to change the narrative.

We are lucky enough to have the ability to steer our thoughts and actions. Sometimes this takes support, but in recovery we grow to be able to do this ourselves. So this holiday season, when your surroundings are explosive, master your mind and outlook to savor the time with your loved ones. When the world feels like it can be too much, it’s a challenge to not revert back to old patterns and behaviors. This year, take control and notice that your place at the table is a blessing and the meal in front of you is not punishment, it is a gift.

Ethan is proud to continue to share his experiences and journey navigating recovery with his eating disorder. He hopes that he can raise awareness and emphasize that eating disorders do not discriminate against sex, age, or background. Ethan resides in Brooklyn, NY, and works in the beauty industry.