Holidays are often joyous times we get together with family and friends. However, for individuals who are suffering from or in recovery from an eating disorder, holidays can be quite challenging. Holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas often involve a big meal, which can be terrifying for those suffering with eating disorders or those who are new to recovery. There are several things you can do, though to help yourself get through holiday meals.
Get Support: If a trusted family member or friend who knows about your eating disorder will be attending the holiday meal, ask that person if you could sit by him or her at dinner. If you need an encouraging word during dinner, you can quietly ask your trusted friend or family member for some encouragement.
If a trusted family member or friend will not be present at the holiday meal, there are other ways in which you can get support if you need it. If you have a cell phone, you could text a friend before or after the meal for some encouragement.
Have An Escape Route: If the family gathering becomes too much to handle, you have a right to excuse yourself. Plan ahead how you might leave the gathering if necessary. You could excuse yourself by telling your family that you are going home because you don’t feel well, for instance. Alternatively, if you need a small break from the gathering, you could escape to a quiet place, like the restroom for a few minutes or you could go on a short walk.
Distract and Relax: The feeling of fullness after eating a meal can be extremely uncomfortable for individuals with eating disorders. Thus, the website Mirror Mirror suggests making a list of things you can do after a holiday meal to distract and/or relax yourself. These things might include: reading a book, praying, taking a walk, talking to a trusted friend, spending time with your pet, taking a bath, or doing an imagery exercise.
Stick to Your Routine: Another strategy you can utilize for surviving the holidays with an eating disorder is to stick to your regular routine. Though the holidays may interrupt your routine somewhat, try to stick to your regular routine as much as possible to reduce anxiety and stress. Get up and go to sleep at your normal times. Eat meals at your regular times as much as you can. Don’t skip meals in anticipation of the big holiday dinner. Instead, eat when you typically do the day of the holiday dinner.
If you have an eating disorder or if you’re new to recovery, holidays may be difficult and anxiety-provoking for you. However, you may utilize these strategies to help yourself get through them.
Mirror Mirror: Holidays:
Casa Palmera: Surviving the Holiday Season: Tips for Those With Eating Disorders: