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How to Survive the Holiday Season in Eating Disorder Recovery

Updated on November 27, 2015

Surviving the Holiday Season in Eating Disorder Recovery

If you are recovering from an eating disorder, the holiday season can be extremely difficult and sometimes detrimental to your success. Stay on top of your game this season by preparing yourself ahead of time. Successful recovery will guarantee a happier and more joyous holiday season!

Eating Disorder Recovery Meal Plan

Eating Disorder Recovery, Meal Plan
Eating Disorder Recovery, Meal Plan | Source

Don't Skip Meals on Your Plan

The holiday season enhances stress and temptations for everyone. Exposure to eating disorder triggers, such as food temptations, family drama, holiday events, etc., is at its all time high. When recovering from an eating disorder, sticking to your meal plan is essential to successfully developing new eating habits. Old destructive eating habits are being replaced with new and healthy eating habits. Especially at the beginning of your recovery, staying disciplined with your meal plan is a sure way to be successful mentally and physically. If you are recovering from an eating disorder this holiday season, you may feel tempted to restrict befheore a holiday event, or binge at a thanksgiving dinner. You may be exposed to comments from friends and family, such as "you look healthier." These type of comments for anyone in recovery can trigger a negative body image though which may ultimately result in engagement of eating disorder behaviors. The most important way to avoid giving in to eating disorder behaviors is to stick to your meal plan. Skipping meals will physically result in a drop of blood sugar levels. If this happens, not only your mind, but now your body too will physically crave foods. The combination may result in a binge, or bring on that emptiness feeling that drove your anorexia and kept you restricting. Stay true to your meal plan and you body and mind will stay strong enough for you to fight off these eating disorder triggers.

Talk to Your Friends and Family in Advance

It is important that you speak openly with your friends and family about your eating disorder recovery. Having a positive support system while surviving the holiday season in eating disorder recovery is crucial to your success. Speak with your friends and family members about these particular topics IN ADVANCE:

  1. Eating Disorder Triggers - What triggers a slip or relapse in your eating disorder recovery? Do particular comments or certain foods tempt you to lose focus of the bigger picture? Make sure your friends and family members know so that they can avoid triggering your eating disorder thoughts.
  2. Signs of Struggle - Chose a few people who you can trust as positive supports, and fill them in on your signs of struggle. That way, if these people see you struggling with your eating disorder, they can take appropriate steps to help you get through without relapsing.
  3. What you Can and Cannot Handle - If you feel like attending that holiday office party or family event may trigger you to relapse, tell your friends and family members that you simply cannot go. If they are positive supports, they will surely understand.

Talk to your Support Systems

Warn your Friends and Family in advance about eating disorder triggers.
Warn your Friends and Family in advance about eating disorder triggers.

Make a List of Coping Mechanisms.

The best way to change a negative eating disorder thought is to quickly replace it with a distraction. In a distressed state, it is a difficult practice to restrain from giving into temptation. These distractions are called coping mechanisms and they are essential in your eating disorder recovery. In a sense, they are like body armor or weapons that protect you against negative eating disorder thoughts. These weapons will help you get through those negative moments when ED creeps up and tempts a relapse! Make a list of quick and immediate distractions and physically write them down on a piece of paper! Then, take this list of weapons and put them in your pocket every time you go to a holiday event. Many people who are recovering from an eating disorder are successful buy keeping this list handy all of the time. Make sure they are easily accessible. For example, "Knitting" may not be a helpful coping skill unless you constantly walk around with needles and yarn! Here are a few good coping mechanisms you may want to try when you see signs of distress:

  • Immediately Call a support: Be it your therapist or your best friend, have a support system on speed dial. If they do not answer, leave a long message that last until the feeling subsides. The act of physically speaking on the phone will distract and ultimately lessen the feelings of distress.
  • The Three/Three/Three Game: This is my favorite game to help with mindfulness. In distressed moments where you are feeling temptations to slip or relapse, you can bring yourself back to the present moment by telling yourself three things you currently feel, see, and hear!

You Can Do It!

Sticking to your eating disorder recovery will result in a happier and more confident you. Truly enjoy your holiday season by staying mindful and in the present. Do not drift away from your friends and family with negative eating disorder behaviors! The holidays can bring the most wonderful experiences, and you want to be a part of the celebration! Good luck! You've got this!

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