How to Manage An Eating Disorder During the Holidays

November 19, 2020

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and the holiday season is almost in full swing. If you are in recovery from an eating disorder, it can be an anxiety-inducing time with all of the gatherings centered around food. Here are our tips on how to manage an eating disorder this holiday season:

Create a Holiday Coping Plan

It may help to prepare for family holiday gatherings ahead of time by creating a holiday coping plan. If it brings you more peace of mind, you can talk with your therapist or dietician ahead of time to plan which foods you’ll decide to have. With an abundance of food and many different choices during this time, it may feel overwhelming. But with a proper plan, you can prepare yourself to make sure you are on track to engage in healthy eating habits. You can also ask your therapist to help you come up with a list of potential triggers too, so that you can prepare yourself and find some healthy ways to cope in triggering situations.

Set Healthy Boundaries

Prepare in advance for how you can set boundaries with friends or family if harmful diet or weight-related talk comes up at the table. If there is certain talk that makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to tolerate it. If your family members bring up a subject that makes you uncomfortable, you can politely tell them that you’d rather they change the subject or focus on something else. It’s also perfectly okay to excuse yourself for a moment and take a break away from a conversation if you feel that you need to.

Lean on Your Support System

If you’re feeling like this time of year is difficult for you, lean on the people that you know you can talk to and express your concerns to. Having a support system of people who will listen to us empathetically and give their support is so important.

Practice Self-Compassion

If you’re in recovery from an eating disorder, you will have some days that are better than others. Remember to be forgiving and have self-compassion during this time. You might feel anxious or overwhelmed at times, and that’s okay (it’s a part of the process). Be gentle with yourself and try to talk to yourself in the same way that you’d talk to a friend or a loved one (being encouraging and not putting yourself down).

Speak With a Therapist

If you find that you’re still struggling to manage an eating disorder, it’s always okay to get help. Therapy can help you get to the bottom of what the underlying things you’re dealing with that leads you to engage in disordered eating. If you don’t already have a therapist, you can request an appointment today with one of our compassionate therapists at Oregon Counseling. Realizing that you may need help is a sign of strength and can make a huge difference in your recovery moving forward.

How to Support A Loved One With an Eating Disorder

If you are someone with a loved one who has struggled with an eating disorder, it may also be hard to know how to support them. It can be difficult because eating disorders are only about food and weight on the surface. When you peel back the layers, eating disorders are more often about family dynamics, problematic communication patterns, losses, or stresses that have contributed to negative feelings the person could not deal with directly. Psychology Today offers helpful tips for how to be there for someone who’s struggling with an eating disorder:

  • DO create a safe space so that the person feels like they can talk to you and feel supported.
  • DON’T make any casual comments about your loved one’s physical body related to weight or size.
  • DO make yourself available to listen.
  • DON’T casually comment on, critique or complain about their eating choices.
  • DO provide them with resources.

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