For many people the holidays are a time of joy; for people with eating disorders such as binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia, however, the holidays can bring a tremendous amount of stress, anxiety, and fear. Since most holidays are centered on the subject of food, such events are often anxiety ridden for those with eating disorders. Issues with family members, painful past holiday memories, feeling isolated, lack of sleep and pressure to eat more or less can trigger and provoke the eating disorder.
Here are a few tips for Planning Ahead to help make your Thanksgiving more enjoyable:
- Talk to your treatment team. They can help you identify what difficulties you might expect and problem-solve some strategies for dealing with them.
- If you are following a meal plan, try to stick to it over the holidays and be intentional with food and alcohol. Planning and sticking with your goal will help to empower you and get you through these special circumstances. Do allow yourself the “ish” factor if there is a special holiday dish you choose to eat.
- The meal plan includes the entire day. Do not restrict breakfast or lunch in preparation of a big Thanksgiving meal. You can make more mindful choices if you do not go into the meal super hungry.
- If people ask questions about your meal plan, let them know you’re under medical care and are following a meal plan.
- If you plan to eat at a function with certain people with whom you feel uncomfortable, plan some ways to excuse yourself from their immediate presence. If you don’t have an immediate support person at the meal, you might consider bringing a good friend.
- Be mindful and try to eat your meal mindfully and slowly, so you can enjoy the food and conversation.
- If you feel yourself starting to panic and feel anxious, excuse yourself and step away from the immediate stressors. Allow yourself some mini breaks. To calm your mind and ground yourself, you can do some breathing exercises, or call and talk to your support person.
- If you end up binging or purging, do not beat yourself up over it. Try to get back on track at the next meal.
- You are probably aware of some of your triggers. Prepare responses to people who may say something triggering that represents your boundaries and values.
- Always remember, if you are at an extremely vulnerable stage of your recovery and think participating will be too challenging, you do not have to go. Self care is important and you can always explain that you are prioritizing taking care of yourself this year.
- Be gentle and kind to yourself and others.
These tips won’t ensure that there will be no problems or that your holidays will be exactly as you would like, but they can help things be more enjoyable and less stressful. It’s important to figure out what works for you and to remember that you have a part in making your holiday all that it can and you want it to be.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder and seeking help, Valenta invites
you to call our office and set up a complimentary assessment.
We are here to guide you in your road to recovery.
Our team at Valenta would like to wish you and your family our warmest wishes
for a year filled with health, recovery, and wellness.
“Be Healthy, Be Powerful, Make Healthy Choices”