I stare down at my plate, filled with all the typical Thanksgiving treats – turkey, ham, corn, maybe some broccoli if Dad made some. The meal is calm at first. My job is simple. Stick food in my mouth. Chew. Swallow. Repeat until my plate is empty. Then I’ll decide if I want more or not.
Except the process is broken with words. Without meaning to, someone said something mean. All of a sudden a dreadful thought pops into my head. Do I deserve to eat? The rest of the meal is a guilt-filled struggle. The doctors call it an eating disorder.
Thanksgiving is an eating holiday. Sure, you bond with your family. You might even play games. But, when you get down to it, what you really do is eat. It sounds easy on the surface, but then there are the people with eating disorders. Some people eat too much, and some throw up afterwards. Some don’t eat at all.
Whatever the case is, I wanted to reach out to everyone who might be struggling this Thanksgiving with some advice.
There’s no shame in eating. You have to eat. You’re human. Please, put the food in your mouth and savor it. You deserve this.
You may look in the mirror and see yourself as too big or too small, but the world looks at you and sees you as beautiful. One meal won’t change anything. You’re still you. There’s no reason to feel bad for eating.
Speaking of how you see yourself, work on improving your self-image. Part of this disorder is seeing ourselves differently from how we really are.
I see myself as fat and ugly, even though everyone tries to tell me otherwise. There’s always the chance they’re right.
I’m not asking you to wake up one day and think you’re as stunning as Aphrodite. Just start with the small things. Wear the clothes you like. Make a list of things you like about yourself. Expand on that list when you can. Stay away from the scale.
I’m not going to lie, that last one is horribly difficult. I often find myself wandering to the scale and wincing because I’ve either gained or lost weight. But if you stay away from the scale, you don’t have to think about that. It at least helps me feel a little more confident.
Of course, the pain and struggle will come back time and time again. It may last the rest of your life. That’s why you need to find things that make you feel better. Personally, I like to write. Others may prefer to play video games or read books. Find what you like and focus on that when you feel the worst.
Remember: it’s okay to ask for help. We all struggle in different ways, but we don’t have to struggle alone. Try to keep this in mind when you go home for Thanksgiving break.