dec 22For those struggling with disordered eating and for those working at their recovery, the holidays can be a particularly challenging time.

Not only because most gatherings revolve around food, but because emotional triggers are everywhere.

From financial stressors to navigating relationships with family, to not having enough time to unwind and recharge, the opportunity for relapse is ever present.

Like many who struggle with E.D., I am a perfectionist.

If you’ve ever watched television during the holidays, you’ll know that this time of year is about getting it right.

Every advertisement that flashes across the screen is a how-to guide on how to acquire the perfect gift, the perfect table setting, the perfect turkey, the perfect tree, the perfect dress, the perfect holiday experience.

Each ad is a reminder that you’re not perfect. Because, shit, you didn’t buy the right gift, your napkins are mismatched, your turkey is overcooked, and half your family isn’t speaking to you.

When things go wrong around Christmas time (and they inevitably do) it generally leads to me having a meltdown. Sometimes in the privacy of my own room. But more often than not, it’s in a shopping mall.

Which then leads to me eating too much to numb the shame and embarrassment, feeling angry that I don’t have enough time to work out after consuming an entire batch of sugar cookies, lamenting my lack of perfection, eating more to deal with that…and cue the relentless cycle.

Yes. The holidays are ripe with opportunities for that nagging voice that tells you you’re not good enough to rear it’s ugly head.

So, in case you’re struggling to quiet that voice too, I’m going to tell you what someone told me today:

Be gentle with yourself.

It’s so simple. So hard. And so true.

Christmas doesn’t care whether or not you’re perfect. That sweater you bought your mom in the wrong size? She can return it. That batch of cookies you just devoured? They were delicious. That turkey that’s overcooked? The dog will love it.

So when shit starts hitting the fan (’cause it inevitably will) take a deep breath, and be gentle.

Be gentle because you’re human. Be gentle because you can work out in January. Be gentle because there is no such thing as a perfect body, a perfect Christmas, or a perfect table setting.