7 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays in Eating Disorder Recovery
Close your eyes and envision something that is very valuable to you. Keep that one thing in mind as you read.
Some individuals may struggle with eating disorder recovery during the holiday season. We believe that this time can also be an opportunity for healing.
Healing at this time of year can occur through relationships as well as living a life consistent with one’s values.
This holiday season, instead of focusing on what is difficult, lacking, or in some way not what one expects, desires, or views as ideal — choose to live according to what you deem to be personally worthy.
For example, you may want to focus on activities involving family and friends, volunteer efforts, or spiritual endeavors. Consider what memories you want have about the holidays this year and what you want to look back on this holiday season, then strive to live each day in that manner. These efforts can be gratifying and satisfy a deep longing for what you hold dear.
We asked dietitian Kathy Veath, RD, LD, and primary clinician, Brittany Gilchrist, MS, LPC-Intern to offer their own tips to help you successfully navigate the holidays in eating disorder recovery. Here's what they had to say:
- Work with your dietitian and clinician to plan, process, and strategize holiday events as they arise.
- Watch for “black and white” thinking. Be flexible when setting guidelines and expectations of yourself and others. Take a break from self-imposed criticism, rigidity, and perfectionism.
- Follow your meal plan consistently. Do not skip breakfast, lunch, and/or snacks because you are attending a dinner in the evening. Your body and brain need nutritional consistency to stay on track.
- Plate your food and find a seat away from the serving area. Shift your focus to the company and the conversation. The holiday season is a great time to reflect, enjoy relationships, give back, and feel gratitude for blessings. Let this be your focus!
- Have a pep talk with yourself before you leave for a holiday event. Use this time to set your intention and to practice how you want to speak to yourself.
- Choose a family member who can act as a safety net for you if addictive behaviors, negative thoughts, and/or difficult emotions arise. Another option is to enlist the help of a trusted friend. Ask your friend in advance and inform her or him of your concerns, needs, and the possibility of you calling for emotional support.
- If needed, consider choosing a loved one and/or trusted friend to be your reality check with food, either to help you fix your plate and/or give you sound feedback on the food portion sizes you make for yourself.
We hope that you have a very happy holiday season.
Deborah Michel PhD, CEDS is Founder and Director of Eating Recovery Center, The Woodlands, Texas.