How Christmas Culture Can Be Dangerous For Those With Eating Disorders

[TW]

For as long as I can remember, Christmas has been a free pass to eat as much as you want.

“Calories don’t count at Christmas”, or, “It’s Okay, It’s Christmas”, You hear this often around the Christmas Season.

The problem for me, is that I definitely use this free pass to overeat; to the point where I cannot stop. Sometimes I will literally be in tears (You can read my story here).

I always end up on my bed, in agony with pains caused by excessive eating. And yet, I won’t stop thinking about the rest of the food in the house.

I’ll be waiting for my next stack. Or living by the phrase “I’m just making room for dessert” after I’ve eaten seconds of my Christmas dinner that could feed a street.

Part of it is a survival thing I think, there was a time when my family didn’t have much money and so I didn’t eat so much. I was healthy, don’t get me wrong, but I still found myself fending off the never-ending stomachs of my growing brothers.

One thing I am certain of is that my binge eating is a disorder, it is not something I want and it’s not something I fully choose to do. It’s a coping mechanism I have developed from complex traumas over my life, which I am actively working on.

So can we get the whole “I choose to be fat” stigma out of the way?

For me, binge eating at Christmas is not a right, it’s not freedom. It’s a compulsion.

Binge eating is a disorder that I do suffer from, since I was around 7 years old.

It means that I consume more food than maybe I should and I can’t actually control it. It’s almost like you lose control of your hands and your mouth and before you know it, you’ve cleaned the house out of food.

I’ve been overweight for a long time now. Sometimes I’ll lose a lot of weight fast but I will always put it back on – cultures like eating heavily at any holiday are only gateways to this.

It’s counterproductive to be told “binge eating is bad, but it’s okay on Christmas”.

It can be terrifying for people who have eating disorders, when we see the holiday season approach.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and I might as well be Santa. But I feel like I spend my whole year preparing for my upcoming Christmas calorie intake.

This year, I’ve lost about 2 1/2 stone, and I’ve done it in a healthy way so I hope it will stick. But I can feel that nagging voice telling me that all that weight will be put back on when the holidays start and there is nothing I can do about it.

If anything, it feels like a vicious cycle. I’ll be in tears over my binge eating during the holidays and spend months trying to nurse my way out of it – as it’s a bit like an addiction. I’ll be gaining more and more weight as the week’s pass.

But when I get the motivation to be healthy it feels like it’s only temporary. It’s like my life revolves around these big events, I even find myself doing this for birthdays or holidays away from home.

I don’t know if I am alone in this thought. But binge eating makes me feel like I will never be healthy and I will probably always be unhealthy.

Any weight I do lose is just preparation for the next binge.

And the worst part of it as is that many doctors will not help people who overeat and binge – I’ve mentioned it many times before and it’s passed off. It’s not seen as a serious problem but it’s dangerous.

Not everyone who is overweight chooses to be that way and many have no real control over their weight. Which is why exercise and diets don’t work for everyone – it’s more than a lifestyle, it’s a mental health thing.

So why isn’t there more awareness around the culture of eating at Christmas and eating disorders in General?

Santa literally is the epitome of binge eating, it reinforces those dangerous norms.

Why is it the norm to binge through the holiday season and then act like a strict diet in January will make it ok? I don’t think it’s healthy. Do you?

It feels like society is saying “It’s okay to be overweight at Christmas but not any other time because that’s gross.”

So I wanted to say this:

  • You do not need to eat all the food at Christmas because it’s encouraged.
  • You do not need to eat a huge roast because your family is telling you too.
  • You don’t need to drink copious amounts of champagne at parties.
  • You are allowed to stick to a diet or your usual eating routine.

But on the flip side, you are allowed to enjoy your festive food and not feel bad about it.

Just remember that you should be eating for you and not because you are expected too.

I am not at all encouraging eating disorders but we need to know that it’s a mental illness and like for me, it’s out of their control. I need there to be more awareness, I need to understand how complex life is for people like me.

What we need is a healthy outlet and understanding. We need support and love.

We don’t need to be told we are too fat to be eating. Or that we are too young to worry about weight. Or that we are skinny and so should be able to eat what we want.

We don’t need people to assume they know what is best for us.

And we don’t need people to assume to know about our own eating disorder.

So this season, I ask that you don’t force anyone to do something YOU think they should do. Respect people’s choices and decisions.

It’s the season of love and giving after all. So give your heart to those who you love, not your opinions.

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