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Setting Healthy New Year’s Resolutions While in Eating Disorder Recovery

by Caitlin Royster, RD, LDN

The start of a new year brings the almost inevitable discussion of new year’s resolutions. Despite how common it is to make a resolution, it is worthwhile to step back and evaluate the practice. Resolutions tend to be intentions geared toward changing a person’s entire life for “the better.” However, the prospect of implementing such large changes can make the resolution feel insurmountable.

Resolutions are often steeped in all or nothing thinking (for example, “In order to lose 15 pounds this year, I can never eat cake again”) and good versus bad language, which often leaves a person feeling like they have failed or are a bad person when they do not achieve these lofty plans. Setting goals is a great thing, especially when those goals support a balanced, holistic way of living and fall in line with true values. The best goals are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. The small, stepwise nature of SMART goals often produces more lasting change.

How ERC incorporates holiday traditions into meals and programming

At ERC, our registered dieticians will work with their patients to identify traditions that are meaningful for them and game plan ways to re-engage in those traditions in a healthy way.

Take, for example, someone who enjoys baking cookies with their family but struggles to eat the cookies themselves. The RD would work with the patient on identifying a cookie recipe that seems doable to eat and would discuss ways of coping before, during, and after the experience.

RD-led nutrition groups will incorporate strategies for navigating holiday situations/scenarios in new recovery-focused ways, whether that be how to implement their meal plan at a holiday dinner or incorporating a fear food that they liked as a child.

Holiday nutrition tips while in recovery

Prioritizing regular, balanced eating: The holidays are often a busy time which makes prioritizing food and eating difficult. The best way to fully engage in all aspects of the holidays is to appropriately nourish the body. This will look different for each person; however, it does involve eating balanced meals consisting of all food groups at regular intervals throughout the day.

Allow for fun foods: Fun foods are common around the holidays, but there can be hesitations about incorporating them. Fun foods are often perceived as “bad” or “unhealthy” foods. Remember that all foods fit, and it is physically and psychologically healthy to incorporate these foods as well as any traditions that surround them. There is always a place for fun foods, both during the holidays and any day of the year.

Shift the focus away from food: It can be easy to get caught up in what foods are being served around the holidays or who is eating what around you. Instead of focusing on the food, try to connect with what about the holiday is meaningful to you. This could be spending time with family or friends, traditions or something else entirely. Checking in with what you are feeling grateful for can help too!

Find more tips for eating disorder recovery during the holidays.


About Caitlin Royster, RD, LDN

Caitlin Royster

Caitlin Royster is a registered dietitian at Eating Recovery Center, Baltimore. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University and completed the National Institutes of Health (NIH) dietetic internship with a concentration in clinical nutrition research. Caitlin has over five years of experience providing nutrition therapy to patients with eating disorders in the inpatient, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient levels of care and coordinated inpatient nutritional care at The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt.

At ERC-Baltimore, Caitlin conducts individual and family nutrition counseling, daily meal support, and group nutrition education in the partial hospitalization program.  She is passionate about helping individuals to nourish their bodies, challenge disordered food beliefs, and break free from food rules.

eating disorder recovery
navigating the holidays with confidence

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