As the holidays approach, many of us may feel excited to spend time with family and celebrate, especially through food. But for those with eating disorders, the holiday season brings feelings of fear and anxiety, making these few months a time of stress instead of joy. It’s important to remember you’re not alone in your feelings of dread over the next few months. Here are a few tips to help you get through the holidays and stay on track with recovery.
Note: The tips below are only suggestions and are not meant to replace advice of a health professional.
Work with a support group to create a “coping plan” to get you through the season. If you know certain foods may be triggering for you, make sure to discuss with your dietitian how you will approach encountering them. For example, if you know Thanksgiving tends to be particularly difficult for you, consider how you will appropriately nourish your body.
2. Keep a support system.
Having a group of people supporting you can make a huge difference in getting through the holidays. Make a list of friends, family or professionals you can reach out to if you struggle or panic. If you need further support, call an Eating Disorder Helpline.
3. Set healthy boundaries.
It’s especially important to set boundaries with friends and family and know what your response will be if an uncomfortable subject of conversation comes up. For example, if a family member starts discussing a new diet, you might ask them about their own lives and derail their weight talk.
4. Shift your focus.
Think of something you enjoy doing during the holidays, whether it’s spending time with your family, cooking or even curling up on the couch to read a good book. Focusing on these moments can make you spend less time worrying about food, moving your mindset towards liking the holidays.
5. Do self-care.
Spend time catering to your own needs this holiday season. Self-care can look like many things, from bubble baths and candles to meditating. Above all, it means doing anything to help you become the best version of yourself. This includes showing yourself compassion, something that is especially vital for those with eating disorders that may worry after making a “mistake”. Focus on allowing room for growth.
While the holiday season may seem like a minefield, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. With support from those around you and a little planning, you can be well on your way to enjoying the holidays. Remember to be kind to yourself; it’s not easy to face your fears and you’re incredibly brave for doing so.