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4 Ways to Cope on Thanksgiving When You’re in Bulimia Recovery

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Being in recovery from bulimia is difficult during the holiday season, especially on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is known to be a holiday where the general population binges, so it only feels right that I participate. I need to remember I am not like other people when it comes to food and that my recovery must come first.

As friends and family members pile up their plates this year, I’ll be mindful about how much food I consume. I know if I binge, I will be more likely to want to purge. Since overeating is part of life, I can be lenient on my portion sizes. I just need to be aware that if I do eat too much or too quickly, urges may arise.

Not only is it hard to be around others who are eating abnormally large amounts of food, it’s also hard to have that much food accessible to me. As a current part of my recovery, I don’t keep excess amounts of binge foods in my house because I’m not able to control my urges late at night, or if I am feeling emotional.

When others are reaching for their fourth piece of pie, I may want to feel like I belong too — but this is dangerous for me.

If the urge to rid myself of my food does come up, I have coping skills I can use.

1. Be Creative.

Having something to distract myself is important.

Creating art is enjoyable to me. It’s an excellent coping skill if I feel like I need to use my hands. It also keeps me mentally engaged. In addition, it doubles as an opportunity to make holiday gifts for those I love. Whether it’s crocheting, drawing or other crafts, it’s an excellent way to cope.

2. Watch Football.

I really don’t understand why grown men dress up in tight pants and tackle each other on live television. But if I allow myself to get into the competition of the game, I am able to distract myself from the large amount of food I’ve consumed. It fills the window of time between when I overeat/binge and when I could purge.

3. Play Games.

Playing games is a classic family tradition in my household. Every year, we would play competitive card games that really got our hearts racing. It’s fun, engaging and creates a bonding experience.

4. Help Cook and Clean Up.

If I’m helping prepare the food or cleaning up, I am busy and being of service. This allows me to get outside my head and I can even use tasks like washing dishes as a mindfulness practice.

As a person in recovery from bulimia, Thanksgiving can be really hard. I hope the reminder of these coping skills can help you get through your holiday with more ease.

Getty Images: bhofack2

Originally published: November 6, 2019
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