In the world of food addiction, Thanksgiving is just another Thursday where the food is concerned. For me, it’s a day to look around and say ‘Thanks’. Since I no longer binge and I no longer eat massive amounts of sugar or carbos or grains, I now have the bandwidth in between my ears to have a day of true Thanks Giving. A day when I can say with all my heart how grateful I am that I live in the solution and never ever have to binge again. A day when I can say with all my heart how grateful I am to have the willingness to do everything I need to do to show that I care enough about myself to work hard not to engage in self-abusive behaviors that drove me deeper and deeper into food hell.
Normally, this is a lethal time of year. Starting with Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then all the Christmas parties, then Christmas itself and finally New Year’s Eve. At every single one of those occasions, there is always an over-abundance of food. Does that mean we have to eat as everyone else does? Does that mean we aren’t celebrating if we say No to foods and alcohol that will hurt us? These are loaded questions with difficult answers. Most people I know want to belong. Whether to a family, to a close organization, somewhere that they know they can let their hair down. So many of us have grown up thinking of food as love. “If I eat everything at Thanksgiving, I belong. I’m home and I know I’m loved.”
For some people that may be true. There is a joke amongst recovering food addicts: Thanksgiving is amateur day for normal eaters. Everyone overeats. But not everyone pays the price of triggering the phenomenon of craving. Not everyone starts with Thanksgiving and can’t stop bingeing until they wake up on January 2nd determined to start yet another diet. We food addicts are different. We will never be normal eaters and therefore Thanksgiving and the rest of these holidays have to be about something else. About being with family, about knowing what works well in your life and saying thank you to the universe. It just takes practice. One holiday at a time.
This year, nothing is normal. It’s all different. Here in France, ex-Pats do celebrate Thanksgiving but we won’t this year. We are in lockdown and no one I know would risk exposing someone they love to the possibility of getting sick with Covid-19. In the US, I’m hearing that more and more states and cities are entering lockdown. New Mexico went into lockdown today. One thing both Covid-19 and food addiction have in common—they don’t take vacations. We can’t let up on our vigilance of either disease just because it’s a special day. Wanting to belong to your family has to take a backseat to true love and telling them that we aren’t celebrating in person this year and let’s brainstorm how we can celebrate. On-line? Zoom? FaceTime.
This Too Shall Pass. We all have the opportunity to wake up January 2nd and not be vowing to diet and not have the deadly Covid disease. To do that, we have to expand our imagination. We have to put our heads together and ask each other “How do we celebrate? Do we celebrate? Maybe we wait and have Christmas in July?” There are as many answers as there are people.
So to all of you I say: You don’t have to eat foods that will ultimately kill you. You can provide yourself with an abundant delicious meal on Thanksgiving and any day. You can stay “sober” and truly let the people you love know how much you love them. You can walk through the holiday season, one step at a time, one day at a time without engaging in self-abuse. This is the Holiday Challenge. Can I love myself as much as I love others?
Let me know how you are doing? Please write some encouraging words to other compulsive eaters and let them know they are not alone.
Until next time,