Eating Disorder Triggers And The Holidays


Holiday gatherings can feel like a constant focus on food. For some,
being surrounded by comfort foods and sweets can make eating in moderation a difficult
task. For others, the overabundance of food and a focus on sitting down
together for family meals can cause anxiety.

The key to navigating holiday eating with confidence lies in
planning for challenges that may arise, as well as placing an emphasis on
practicing flexibility and asking for support. No matter your stage in eating disorder
recovery, practicing these five strategies can help you protect your eating
recovery during the holidays and avoid potential triggers for eating
disorders relapse.

1. Shift the focus from food, meals and counting calories to
celebrating and spending time with loved ones. Spending your time evaluating
available food to identify the healthiest options keeps you “in your head”
and prevents you from meaningfully engaging with the people that care about you
most. Accept that food is a part of seasonal events and reframe your thoughts
to emphasize interaction with family and friends over meals themselves and the
types of foods served.

2. Avoid “good food”/”bad food” thoughts.
As we say at the Victorian, “There are no bad foods.”  In general, healthy eating is all about
moderation, and this notion is particularly true when it comes to traditional
holiday fare.  Try to enjoy healthy portion
sizes during each course.

3. Avoid overbooking your schedule with holiday functions.
Shopping for holiday gifts, attending all the holiday functions and hosting
your own parties can make for a stressful holiday season. It’s important to
maintain an awareness of your stress level during the holidays. Trust your
instincts and take a break if events and obligations become overwhelming. Don’t
worry about disappointing friends and family if you’re unable to attend this
gift exchange or that dinner; they’ll understand that protecting your recovery
is your number one priority.

4. Surround yourself with people who have healthy
relationships with their bodies, food and weight.
If possible, bring a trusted
family member or friend with you to a holiday gathering, and be sure to keep
lines of communication open and honestly discuss your challenges, victories and
goals with members of your support team. If you’re comfortable doing so, share
your thoughts and feelings with trusted individuals; if they understand why the
holidays can be a difficult time for you, it will help them provide support.

5. Continue working with your nutritionist. Ongoing
nutrition counseling with a registered nutritionist provides powerful guidance,
support and education to help patients overcome their fear of food and
normalize eating behaviors, particularly during times of stress. If holiday
travel keeps you from keeping your regularly-scheduled appointments, consider
speaking with your nutritionist by Skype or phone for a brief check in about
your experiences and dietary challenges.

We hope everyone has a very happy and healthy holiday season
in recovery!

Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

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