by Chelsea Reeves
Note: This piece originally appeared on Soulshine and has been cross-posted with permission.
Prior to finding freedom from my eating disorder my life was isolated and one that lacked true joy. This particularly became evident during the holiday season where so many gatherings appeared to have food as the focal point. I would find myself unable to be fully present and enjoying time with dear friends and family because of the overwhelming sense of anxiety I would feel around my body image, and what seemed like a constant reminder of my imprisonment with my eating disorder.
Before the holidays, I would prepare myself through a variety of maladaptive behaviors that supported my eating disorder. Each time I engaged in a behavior I felt like I was one step closer to finding fulfillment and gaining confidence. To my disbelief this “route of achievement” was never-ending. These behaviors gave me a false sense of comfort and adequacy. I felt like I needed to earn or give myself the permission to be able to eat a big meal on Thanksgiving, or allow myself to indulge like anyone else.
Entering into this holiday season leads me to a time of reflection and gratitude for the peace that I have found in recovery. I can’t remember the last time I have gotten on a scale to weigh myself, I am active with my body because of the emotional stability and peace I find with these practices rather than trying to lose weight, and I try my best to always counteract myself with a positive affirmation when I say or think anything that discourages me.
Today I don’t have any “bad foods” that I can’t eat. I listen to what my body is craving and honor the beautiful gift I have been given. I have found that when my intention is to nourish and nurture my body, all food is good food.
I still have days where I think I need to exercise for hours because of the extra dessert I ate, or I shouldn’t wear a certain outfit because I think my arms look too big, or have absurd thoughts that maybe I would be happier if I were X pounds lighter. Today though, I have gained the awareness and insight to NOT pay attention to those voices. I celebrate what I see as my “flaws” today. I need my arms to play and hold my three, humongous labrador dogs, that I actually really love dessert and all the yummy different options there are and how beautiful the presentation of food can be, and that I have found authentic happiness through meditation, time with close friends and family, and spending time in nature.
So this holiday season I want to invite you to take this challenge with me. After all, we are all in this together, right? Let’s celebrate our bodies and all the incredible things we can do!!! Let’s compliment and uplift one another when a negative thought creeps into our minds… And finally, lets remember the gift that food can be… I can get so consumed with body image that I can forget that food is medicine, and that this precious gift nourishes me to be of service to others and do the things I love.
Sending love and light to everyone this holiday season!