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10 Tips for Managing Your Eating Disorder During the Holidays

Updated: Mar 1, 2022

The holidays can be hard whether you’re struggling with being away from family, or being with your family, or not having a family at all! Whatever the situation, your eating disorder does not take a holiday. In fact, eating disorders can often get worse during the holidays because of the increase in stress levels. So here are 10 tips for managing your eating disorder during the holidays: 1. Set Boundaries You don’t have to accept that people are just going to say things that make you uncomfortable. You may have that aunt who likes to talk about her diet or a grandma who pinches your cheeks or comments on your body. This is not something you have to tolerate. Set clear expectations ahead of time about topics that are off limits and reinforce them as needed. 2. Take Time for Self-Care The holidays are a busy, busy time for most people. Don’t forget to take time for yourself. Give yourself the gift of self-care this holiday season. 3. Don’t Back Away from your Treatment Team It can be tempted to disappear for weeks at a time over the holidays. Many people want a “break from treatment” and to “not think about it and just focus on the holidays.” Bad idea! Trust us, we’ve seen it time and time again. Your treatment team is one of your strongest support systems during the holidays. Use it! 4. Use This Break from Routine to Focus on Recovery During the holidays, the normal school and work schedule is disrupted. Treat this as an opportunity to really focus on recovery without the distractions you normally face. Pick a recovery book to read, journal, etc. and you’ll be ready to face the return to routine with a much clearer mind.

5. Stick to your Scheduled Meals and Structure Just because these weeks will look different from your usual week doesn’t mean you should just “go with the flow” when it comes to your recovery. Be extra careful to not skip meals or snacks!

6. Identify Holiday Triggers in Advance A lot of people have triggers associated with the holidays. The holidays can bring increased pressure to conform to others expectations, comments about people’s bodies or diets, pressure to be recovered, pressure to be open about your struggle, busyness, loneliness, and so much more. 7. Ask for Help. Don’t Hide from you Support System Identify your support system and use them. Maybe it’s a cousin at a holiday party or a parent on Christmas morning. The holidays are hard. Your support system wants to make it a little easier for you.

8. Make a list of coping mechanisms Make a list of coping mechanisms in advance. If you know you have an event coming up, note down what coping mechanisms you would feel comfortable using at the event. This will help in the moment when you feel the urge to use an ED behavior.

9. It’s Okay to Not Be Okay Let up on the pressure for this to be the “happiest time of the year.” It just isn’t for a lot of people, and that’s okay. 10. Don’t Overcommit! For a lot of people, the invitation to holiday events are nearly endless. Check in with yourself honestly. Is your party schedule reasonable? Do you actually want to go to an event or do you just feel like you should? Is this event going to trigger you? Don’t be afraid to say no! Even if you said yes earlier, you can always change your mind.

Take Care this Holiday Season,

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