New year, new habits. Right?
January can be a good time to refocus on health and wellbeing – depending on where you are at in your journey, it could be a time to speak up and get help for an eating disorder, to start to mend your relationship with food for the first time, to re-evaluate and refocus on the goals you’ve made with your treatment team, or to add someone new to your treatment team.
Unfortunately, the above goals are not the goals, or ‘resolutions’ that we typically hear about at this time of year. We are more likely to hear our friends and loved ones talk about their new juice cleanse or their resolution to hit the gym every single day than we are to hear someone speak up about mending their relationship with food.
The holidays can be a challenging and triggering time for anyone trying to navigate recovery – you were likely pushed out of your comfort zone a little and challenged to eat in food environments or to eat types of foods that are not part of your everyday routine. It’s often less acknowledged that January can be an equally, if not potentially more, triggering time of year.
I see many clients who feel stressed after the holidays and feel urges to engage in eating disorder behaviours to ‘make up’ for the holidays. This combined with the not so helpful messages around New Year’s resolutions that we get from our loved ones and from the media can leave you feeling really stuck.
I challenge you do to things a little differently this year than maybe you’ve done in the past. In doing so, I challenge you to make your personal health and wellbeing a priority by trying the following.
- Get back on track with your meal plan. It’s normal to go off meal plan some days over the holidays. The best thing you can do is to get back on track exactly where you left off – NOT engage in compensatory behaviours or restrict your meal plan. Overshooting your meal plan to ‘make up’ for the holidays will surely create a vicious and dangerous cycle that only reinforces eating disorder behaviours and thoughts. Your meal plan may be different than what others are eating around you and may go against some of the resolutions that your friends and family have been talking about. Rest assured that your plan is the best choice for YOU.
- Re-evaluate your goals. Where would you like to be this time next year? In five years? What makes you happy? What makes you feel good? This year, take some time to consider longer term goals centred around well-being. In contrast, traditional ‘resolutions’ tend to be short term, unrealistic, and promote an unbalanced approach to food, to exercise and to managing emotions.
- Re-evaluate your treatment plan. Once you have decided on your own personal goals, you can then decide on who you need in your life in order to get you there. This might mean seeking help and treatment for the first time, it will definitely mean sharing your goals with your current treatment team, but it could also mean adding someone new to your team or maybe seeking a different approach that is in line with your current goals. Re-evaluating your treatment plan also refers to giving thought to the family and friends you have in your life. Ask for help from your treatment team to articulate to your loved one how they can best support you in your recovery journey. Sometimes this also means moving away from some people in your life that are not helpful supports at the moment so that you are better able to make your personal goals a priority.
Start your New Year off with a long term focus on your health and wellbeing. Give thought to what you want and what is right for you, regardless of the chatter around you and regardless of what happened over the holidays. The best thing you can do is to get back on track with a meal plan, goals and a treatment plan that are right for you.
- Lindzie O'Reilly