No More “Surviving” the Holidays: 10 Tips for Thriving in Eating Disorder Recovery

Holidays

By Meadows Senior Fellow Jenni Schaefer

We no longer “survive” the holidays. We thrive.

And you can, too.

I recently asked my Facebook community about ways in which their eating disorder recoveries have helped them to thrive during the holiday season. A beautiful conversation began, inspiring the words in this post.

Because we no longer obsess about eating, exercise, and our bodies, we have energy and time to focus on new life paths, purposes, and passions.

While others might stare at the pumpkin pie, deliberating whether they should be “bad” by eating it, we can simply enjoy a slice. Because we know that food is just food. It is fuel. A pie doesn’t carry a moral value like “good” or “bad.”

Or maybe we will choose to eat two slices. Because we also know that food is something to be enjoyed. We don’t have to “make up” for what we ate through dieting or compulsive exercise, because we trust our bodies.

But we won’t eat the entire pie. Because we know that we can have another slice tomorrow.

Yet we aren’t actually thinking about any of this while savoring that tasty delight. Eating intuitively and trusting our bodies comes naturally; like breathing. Importantly, our bodies trust us, too.

When the holiday season is over, we won’t be dieting to kick-start 2022. We appreciate our bodies for what they do: They are vehicles for life. We know that healthy humans come in all shapes and sizes.

Because we no longer obsess about eating, exercise, and our bodies, we have energy and time to focus on new life paths, purposes, and passions. In fact, one member of my Facebook community rediscovered her love of cooking over Thanksgiving.

With that, I’d like to share my community’s and my top 10 tips for thriving this holiday season:Holiday lights

1. Rediscover your passions.

Try cooking again, or experiment with making your own gifts. Volunteer for an organization that helps to bring light and love to others.

2. Savor each and every bite of holiday meals.

Eat mindfully, and truly taste the food. If you don’t like what you are eating, then try something else.

3. Eat through the eyes of a child.

“Ooh … whipped cream!”

4. Be grateful.

For all of your hard work in recovery, honor each bite of food as fuel to keep your body strong and healthy.

5. Replace rituals.

Swap out eating disorder rituals with recovery ones. Maybe create a gratitude ritual.

6. Be a positive role model to others.

Whether via intuitive eating or positive body talk, pause to acknowledge your hard work in recovery and how your efforts can truly help others.

7. Change the conversation.

Make it a fun challenge to shift conversations away from dieting and negative body talk to more interesting topics.

8. Add humor to the holidays.

What do you call an elf who sings? A wrapper. (Sorry, but I just love cheesy kid jokes!)

9. Add perspective: Zoom out.

A holiday meal, in some ways, is just another meal. All humans could stand to add some perspective to the season.

10. Stay centered.

Focus on connection, gratitude, and the true meaning of the holidays.

For all of your hard work in recovery, honor each bite of food as fuel to keep your body strong and healthy.

Eating disorder recovery gives us an opportunity to grow in ways that many humans never get the chance. Much of this growth is exactly what’s needed to experience a deep peace and joy this time of the year, and all year round.

What might you do to thrive, not just survive, this holiday season? I’d love to hear your ideas on Facebook. With that, I wish you all a very happy holiday!

Jenni Schaefer

About Senior Fellow Jenni Schaefer

A Meadows Senior Fellow and advocate for its specialty eating disorders program, The Meadows Ranch, Jenni Schaefer is the bestselling author of Life Without Ed, Almost Anorexic, and Goodbye Ed, Hello Me. Her next release, Facing the Invisible Monster: How I Came Back from Trauma and How You Can Too, is scheduled for a January 2022 release.

Schaefer graduated summa cum laude from Texas A&M University with a degree in biochemistry, and she knows firsthand the devastating consequences of an eating disorder. Since recovering from her own eating disorder, she has carried her message of self-acceptance and triumph over adversity to the public. A sought-after speaker on addiction and food disorders, relationships, depression, and career, Jenni has appeared on Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, the TODAY show and Entertainment Tonight, as well as in print coverage from Cosmopolitan and The New York Times.

For more information, visit JenniSchaefer.com.