Navigating the Holidays with an Eating Disorder: A Guide to Finding Balance
The holiday season, filled with family, nostalgia, traditions, and loved ones is beautiful. However, many (actually, all!) of the festivities around Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc revolve around food. For many, it’s a culinary delight. However, for those grappling with an eating disorder or body dysmorphia, it can be a time of heightened anxiety and stress.
Below are a few tips from an Eating Disorder therapist to help you or a loved one navigate the holidays with an eating disorder.
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings:
Recognize and accept that the holidays might be challenging. It’s okay to feel anxious or unsure, but by acknowledging these feelings, you empower yourself to seek the support and strategies you need.
2. Plan Ahead:
If you’re attending a gathering, know the menu in advance if possible. This can help you mentally prepare and strategize about how you’ll approach the meal. If it’s a potluck situation in which you are going to contribute a dish, plan to bring something that brings you safety. Others are not as aware of our dietary choices as we imagine them to be. Remember, it’s okay to stick to foods you’re comfortable with.
3. Enlist Support:
Talk to someone you trust about your feelings and anxieties related to food during the holidays. This could be a family member, friend, therapist, or support group. They can provide understanding, encouragement, and even accompany you during meals.
4. Set Boundaries:
Politely but firmly let loved ones know that comments about weight, appearance, or eating habits are off-limits. This can be very difficult due to the superficiality of our culture, but it is very important to stand up for yourself here. You’re not obligated to discuss your disorder or treatment unless you feel safe and want to.
5. Focus on Non-Food Celebrations:
The holidays aren’t just about food. Engage in other festive activities: decorating, singing carols, gift exchanges, or simply spending quality time with loved ones. An eating disorder will make you feel as if the entirety of every event is about eating, but there is so much more beauty if you can allow your thoughts to stray from a fixation on food.
6. Stay Connected with Your Therapist:
If you’re working with a therapist, keep them in the loop. Discuss fear foods, accountability plans, outfit preparation, and ways to reach out for support as needed. They can provide coping strategies tailored to holiday situations.
7. Practice Self-compassion:
Remember, no one is perfect and there is no such thing as a perfect recovery. If you face challenges or setbacks during the holidays, treat yourself with kindness and grace. One difficult moment doesn’t define your entire journey to recovery.
8. Create New Traditions:
If certain traditions are too food-focused or triggering, it’s okay to create new ones. You’re allowed to suggest new activities to participate in that have nothing to do with food.
9. Have an Exit Strategy:
If a situation becomes too overwhelming, have a plan for how you’ll step away. This could be taking a few moments to yourself, engaging in deep breathing exercises, or leaving the gathering if necessary.
10. Aftercare is Important:
Once the holidays wrap up, check in with yourself and your therapist. Reflect on what went well, what was challenging, and how you might approach things differently next time. Continue to seek support, whether from loved ones or professionals.
Begin Eating Disorder Treatment in Delray Beach, FL
While the holidays can be a challenging time for those with eating disorders, it’s essential to remember that your well-being comes first. With preparation, support, and self-compassion, it’s possible to find balance and joy during the festive season. Remember, recovery is a journey, and every step, no matter how small, is progress. Start your therapy journey with the Mangrove Therapy group by following these simple steps:
- Contact Mangrove Therapy
- Meet with a caring therapist
- Start receiving the support you deserve this holiday season!
Other Services Offered with Mangrove Therapy Group
Eating disorder treatment isn’t the only service offered by the team at Mangrove Therapy Group. Our therapists are experts in treating trauma and PTSD/C-PTSD, substance use disorders, EMDR, body image issues, anger management, anxiety, low self-esteem, personality disorders, and much more. Please feel free to learn more about how we can support you. We also offer support with addictions such as process addictions, grief and loss, EMDR, “Failure to Launch” syndrome, CBT, and DBT. Feel free to learn more by visiting our blog or FAQ page to learn more today!