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.
How to Approach 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.
Another recommendation is to 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.
Make sure you bring along 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.
Try to manage stress in your life. 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.
Consider the Holiday Refocus Program at Alsana. Those who want some intensive, short-term treatment, at any treatment level, are encouraged to learn more about our Holiday Refocus Program, which will help you renew your commitment to the recovery process, and to hone your coping skills during a season of the year when you might really need them. The Holiday Refocus Program isn’t necessary for everyone, but it’s certainly available if you need it.
Keep these points in mind as we enter into the final stretch of the year—and remember, your recovery comes first in everything. That includes holiday parties and get-togethers![cta] Call Alsana today to ask about the Holiday Refocus Program. [/cta]