Managing The Holidays and Your Eating Disorder

Understand Your Anxiety

For those suffering or recovering from anorexia, there’s a huge fear of being expected to eat a certain amount and enjoy it. For those who are bulimic, have BED or are recovering, it’s hard to avoid the many triggers to binge or purge. This is why it’s important to weigh out the situation ahead of time and to remember you aren’t alone. It’s normal to feel anxious around the holidays.

Because eating disorders aren’t really about food, but are firmly rooted in genetics, biology, personality, childhood trauma and family dynamics, the family aspect of the holidays can be a big issue. If dysfunctional family dynamics play a part in your disordered eating, this is cause for more emotional turmoil, fueling the fire of restrictive or binge eating behaviors. Even if you aren’t around your family for the holidays, the holiday itself can bring up painful memories that have contributed to your disordered eating behaviors.

Focus On Your Recovery

This year, have compassion for yourself and try to let go of the need to be perfect. The holidays are a time of gratitude; remember that your worth as a person has nothing to do with your size or the food you eat. If you are battling an eating disorder or are in the process of recovery, here are some tips to help you get through the holidays without giving into your eating disorder habits.

Follow your normal meal plan: Many people think they should skip breakfast and/or lunch to “make room” for a holiday feast. Aim to make this day like any other day and build your other two meals around what time the holiday meal is being served. Make sure your eating plan dictates what you eat, not others’ comments.

Bring your coping skills: Come equipped with whatever helps you deal with urges to act out in your eating disorder or helps to soothe your emotions. Whether it’s a journal, a book or a playlist, know you can take a time out from the festivities to find some peace of mind.

Get support: Identify someone as your support person and utilize him or her throughout the day. This person can be your safety net when it comes to processing the things that are bothering you. Discuss ahead of time how they can help in certain situations, like a distraction from triggering moments or helping to change the subject if an uncomfortable topic about food or weight comes up.

Use your voice: When things get uncomfortable, it’s easy to shut down and internalize feelings. Doing this only gives power to the eating disorder. Speak up about your needs and set boundaries with your family members when necessary. If they begin to talk about things like dieting to compensate for overeating on the holidays, remember that other people’s issues with food and their bodies are not your own.

Keep your appointments: It could be tempting to skip nutrition or therapy sessions during this hectic time of year. But it’s so important you continue to make your appointments. The holidays are extra stressful, so it’s especially crucial to get the support you need throughout this time.

Don’t watch what others eat: Comparing what you eat to what others eat can be a big trigger. You are the only person who knows what is best for your recovery.

Practice mindfulness and focus on gratitude: Keep your thoughts as positive as possible and aim to eat food while sitting down. This helps you to eat slowly and mindfully, listening to your hunger and fullness cues. Also, even if your day is difficult, do your best to focus on the positive steps you’ve made so far in your recovery.

This year, remind yourself that food is for nourishment and enjoyment, not calculation and compensation. Enjoy this time of gratitude and celebration and give thanks for the good things in your life.

You Can Enjoy The Holidays In Recovery

At The Meadows Ranch we can help you learn to honor your journey to recovery by eating the foods you like, listening to your body’s cues and understanding your worth so you can enjoy the holidays. We have treated eating disorders for more than 25 years. We know recovery from an eating disorder is possible. It’s happening every day at The Meadows Ranch. Based on feedback from patients, families and professionals, the vast majority of our patients remain committed to a life of health, balance and purpose. For additional information about the treatment of eating disorders, please call to speak to one of our Intake Coordinators at 866-390-5100 or complete a form and we will contact you with the information you need.

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