holiday food

Handling Food Challenges During the Holidays

  Eating Disorder Relapse, Blog

The holiday season can often be full of family, fun, and good cheer. Of course, it can also be full of stress—and above all, it can be full of food. Many holiday traditions and festive gatherings revolve around food and drink. For those who are in eating disorder recovery, navigating these events can be challenging. The good news is that it is more than possible to handle holiday food challenges with your recovery intact—and even to have a sweet and enjoyable holiday season. Today, we’ll offer a few tips that we hope you will find helpful.

Steps for approaching food challenges during the holiday season

First and foremost, make sure you focus on the right things.

Whether or not you make holiday gatherings food-centric is totally your choice. You can choose to focus on the people and relationships present at the gathering, to view it as a time to connect rather than just a time to eat. Always put people first as you attend any holiday event.

Eat a quiet meal with your family before attending any holiday party or event.

Make sure that you eat in accordance with your meal plan; sticking to that guideline will make it easier for you to avoid tricky situations at the party or gathering.

Bring someone who can offer you support.

Stay near that person during the party—someone who knows your struggle, and in whom you can confide. Ideally, this will be a friend or a family member who is well acquainted with your recovery and who can provide you with words of encouragement as needed, and perhaps even help monitor your plate. If you cannot find someone like this to attend the holiday gathering with you, at least have someone on speed dial.

Don’t think about foods in terms of good or bad.

Instead, just focus on enjoying a variety of foods in moderate portions. Holiday food is meant to be festive and fun, so getting caught up in relative nutritional merits is almost beside the point.

Stress management is key

The more stress you are under, the more vulnerable you will be to these various food challenges. Keep your calendar under control, and don’t overcommit yourself. If you’re in charge of planning holiday events, solicit help. And be sure you have some good stress coping mechanisms in place—whether that means yoga, daily exercise, journaling, painting, or simply talking with friends.

Don’t forsake your treatments during the holiday season.

The holidays can certainly be busy, and you may struggle to fit everything into your schedule—but the one thing you don’t want to skip out on is your therapy. Keep meeting with your counselor, your dietitian, and your support group as needed. Even if you feel like you don’t “need” therapy right now, continue to make those appointments and to receive support and encouragement.

Learn more about Two-Week Winter Intensives

If you need short-term treatment to get your recovery back on track after a long year, a two-week recovery refresh at the PHP/IOP level of care (in-person and/or virtual), might be right for you. Don’t let holiday anxiety steal your hard-earned recovery.  Learn more about Alsana’s Two-Week Winter Intensives today.

Two-Week Winter Intensives

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