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Eating Disorder Holiday Survival!

By Jeanne Phillips, MA, CEDS

The Holidays are upon us!  Take a deep breath and brace yourself.  The holiday season, with its many social obligations, “must buy” shopping sprees, stressful family get togethers and mounds of food, is just around the corner.

If you are feeling a little frantic, you are not alone.  This is the most romanticized season of the year, and it all begins with a gigantic Thanksgiving dinner.

Because food is so much a part of the holiday celebration, this time of year can become a frightening source of discomfort for a person with food-related anxieties.

This is the time of year we traditionally have great expectations that are unrealistic.  Through planning, you can get through and even enjoy what many people consider the most difficult time of the year.

First and most important is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!  Remember the body does not lie, the head does.  Accept the body that you have and congratulate yourself for the wonderful lifestyle changes you are working on or have already made.  This is your new lifestyle, one that you can live with, that doesn’t require dieting, deprivation or body shame.

Helpful Tips

  • Be honest with your feelings with friends and family.
  • When eating, check in with your level of hunger.  Go to your body not your head for the answer.  Incorporate Gentle Eating.  Look at the food, smell the food, take a bite and set your fork down, chew the food and swallow it.  BREATHE, and when you are ready take your next bite, ask yourself, “Does this bite taste as good as the last bite?” SLOW DOWN AND LISTEN TO WHAT YOUR BODY IS TELLING YOU.
  • Don’t spend a lot of time by yourself.  Interact with safe people.  Remember, holidays are about friends, family, and fun – not food.
  • Eat what your body desires and don’t “should” on yourself.
  • Spend more of your focus on family and friends instead of food – they are more important.
  • Fire the Food Police.
  • If you feel yourself struggling, contact someone who understands what you are going through before it gets too big.
  • Challenge the inner critical voice
  • Find things and activities other than food to focus on.  If you overeat one time it will not make a difference in your weight.  Trust your body.
  • Don’t deprive yourself of what you really desire. This will set you up to overeat later.
  •  Stay away from the mindset of, “Oh well, I’ve already blown it and might as well eat the whole thing and start over tomorrow.” Stay in the present.
  •  Help others to help you.  Talk to them about what need.
  •  Relax and breathe.  You are not powerless over food.
  •  Let go of guilt.
  •  Take time for yourself, journal or go for a walk.
  •  Plan an activity for after your meal.
  •  Don’t weight your self-esteem – it’s what’s inside that counts! See yourself as a whole person – mind, body and soul.


Suggestions for Family and Friends

  •  Support this individual by focusing on interests that don’t relate to food, weight or body image.
  •  Ask the individual what they need from you.
  •  Don’t be the Food Police.
  •  Don’t lecture or “should”!
  •  Know that the new lifestyle change is a process.
  •  Be honest in your communication regarding your concerns.

Wishing all of you a safe and happy holiday season!

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