The super-sweet notion of Valentine’s Day may not resonate well if you are a person with an eating disorder.
If you struggle with anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating, or weight and body issues, you may also struggle with poor self-love and esteem, perfectionism, nutritional deficiencies, negative body image, difficult or traumatic relationships, problems expressing your feelings, and more.
How do you cope with an eating disorder now that boxes of chocolate are on every store shelf and commercialized love is in the air? Decadent desserts and a fancy high-calorie dinner loom ahead? Or the pressure to look great in a fancy outfit is heavy on your mind?
After all, it’s only six weeks since you managed the challenges of an entire holiday season!
Let the core message of love inspire you.
You can keep fighting against your food issues and emotional pain.
You can trade them for nourishment and self-nurturing.
You just need a plan.
1. Employ Mental Preparation:
To deal with the call to indulgence and romantic love surrounding Valentine’s day, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and give some thought to how you’ll respond. Keep yourself recovery focused
Predict relational roadblocks. Valentine’s Day may bring to mind lost love, difficult family relationships, or highlight current issues. Acknowledge that no relationship is perfect. Resist the urge to relapse by seeking out people who love and encourage you ahead of time.
Connect with your emotions. Journal. Meditate. Take walks. Take time to feel what is going on inside your body. Pay attention to how your mind is responding. Allow your perspective to shift and your body to adjust.
Engage your body. Combat overwhelm by scheduling a massage or a few yoga sessions the week of the holiday. Pamper and relax your body rather than critique it.
2. Manage Old Temptations:
If valentine expectations and celebrations leave you feeling pressured and inadequate, this holiday may lure you away from your recovery from an eating disorder. Focus on your goals and take measures to protect your progress:
Plan your Valentine’s meal in advance. Check out the restaurant menu online if you’re eating out. Resist the urge to restrict your diet all week in order give yourself space to binge. Keep healthy snack options with you to help combat sweets and post-meal regret.
Don’t fool yourself. Managing an eating disorder requires your diligence. Don’t go into Valentine’s Day thinking you can put your recovery on the back burner. Stay the course.
3. Embrace Support and Communication:
As always, surround yourself with people who understand your struggles and support your recovery.
If you’re spending Valentine’s Day with a partner, share your concerns. Include him or her in your plans to stay safe and on track. You may find he or she appreciates your honesty and your bond is strengthened.
If you’re on your own, gather a group of single friends for some fun. Just be careful to choose those who will honor your struggles and keep you honest at mealtime or in front of the bathroom mirror.
4. Seek Motivation and Express Appreciation:
Whether a big dinner is coming up or you have no romantic relationship to celebrate, your need to be validated, admired, or worthy of love may come to the forefront on Valentine’s Day.
Try to look for love and inspiration all around you. Consider the moments and people in your life that are more worthy of your attention.
Count all the blessings you can find.
Don’t listen to your eating disorder this Valentine’s Day.
Put your plan into action.
You have the tools.
Let the holiday message remind you to keep loving yourself.
Be your own best friend and most devoted valentine.