Thanksgiving is a hard day for everyone. Family, lack of family, plans, lack of plans…
Most people don’t actually binge at Thanksgiving dinner. They usually eat until they are comfortably full or even uncomfortably full. The binge comes when they get home or later that night. Because for people with eating issues, being full is NEVER comfortable. Usually the binge comes when you’re in the kitchen cleaning up, or after you get home, or after everyone has gone to sleep. And it’s pretty much always alone.
I have been getting emails all day from people telling me that they overate or binged on Thanksgiving and that they hate themselves, that they are failures, that they are worthless, that they are defective, that they will never be good enough. They will never look like the women they work with – they won’t go back to the office in January with their whole new me pandemic look and they’ll never look the way those Insta models look or even how their mother thinks that they should look. They’re telling me that they are they only person in the world who “can’t stick to their diet…”
This breaks my heart severely. These are hate letters that people are sending me all about themselves.
You are not defective. You are not flawed. You are not bad. Eating or overeating or eating off your diet does not make you a bad person. It’s not like you kicked a homeless person or set fire to your neighbors house — or walked around a supermarket without a mask knowing that you had COVID and coughed on people. You just ate more than you had planned to. How could you not have? It’s Thanksgiving! The holiday that is centered around eating too much.
Diets don’t work because diets go against human nature and basic biology. You didn’t fail at dieting, you won at being human. And your human self deserves love and kindness most of all from yourself. When you plan to restrict your food – you are sure to crack at some point. Human willpower can only go so far. And when highly palatable food is all around you, it’s very difficult not to eat it. And if you try really hard not to and you’re able to – there is a big chance that you will wind up bingeing on it or something else later. Please don’t beat yourself. Please try your best to take a breath and remind yourself that it was Thanksgiving. That you are allowed to eat. And that today, even if you ate more than you wanted to or planned to, that you can still eat. You don’t have to punish yourself by restricting or bingeing or purging. You need to eat. You don’t have to earn your meals. Eating is a basic human need.
You also don’t need to look like anyone else. As women we have been taught to relentlessly compare ourselves to other women. If we see a beautiful woman, we think to ourselves “she is beautiful – therefore that means that I am not… I should hate myself…” and when we compare ourselves to others, we fail to see what is beautiful and wonderful about ourselves. We believe that what we don’t have makes us flawed. We have all been taught that, to focus on our “perceived” flaws… by the things that make us feel separate from ourselves rather than aligned with ourselves.
But what if we thought about focusing on what makes us special?
What if we thought about not comparing ourselves to others (we can’t be anyone else nor should we be) and instead thinking about the amazing things that make us who we are?
Even if you can focus on one thing that you like about yourself (a self-gratitude list) I think you might find some peace. It doesn’t have to be about the way that you look, it can be about who you are and what makes you feel the most like yourself. And then you might spend some time focusing on that. For instance, if you like that you are a voracious reader – spend time reading, if you like that you are a great writer, spend time writing, if you like that you are a fantastic knitter, knit scarves or hats or sweaters for people you love or for strangers who are less fortunate than you. If you like that you are kind and generous, spend some time serving food at a soup kitchen, if you like that you are a good friend, call someone who needs you and be a good friend to them. Or, if you just like that you are “that bitch” harness your inner Lizzo, put on some heels and get out of your house and have fun– … or whatever YOU want to do. You are trying to be more you, not more anyone else. So find what makes you who you are and inhabit that. This is how you develop and firm up that firm sense of self that is so helpful in healing.
What I mean to say here is that it’s important for you to be you and not to try to be anyone else. And when you get in touch with what makes you you and you truly align to that – you will begin to feel embodied and be able to revel in your own authenticity rather than thinking that you’d be better off being someone else.
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