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10 Tips for Coping with Eating-Disorder Stress Over the Holidays

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For those who are in recovery from an eating disorder, the holidays can be the most stressful time of the year. Between the temptations of holiday foods and pressure from family members, coping with the related stress can be a monumental task. Use these 10 helpful tips to keep centered and stay abstinent this holiday season.

  1. Review the Menu and Plan Ahead

If you can plan your meals ahead of time, do it! Going into a holiday meal knowing what you’re going to eat beforehand can keep you from making impulsive decisions. If you have a prescribed food plan, stick to it, don’t throw it away for the holidays. Always check with your sponsor or your support group before making any changes to your food plan. If you are cooking the holiday meal, make sure you have a lot of support so that you don’t give in to the temptation of tasting or nibbling while preparing the holiday meal.

  1. Space Out Your Meals

During the holidays, it’s common for people who do not have an eating disorder to snack all day and eat one indulgent meal at the end. While many do this, it’s not the healthiest way to operate. When you have an eating disorder, your recovery depends upon always following your food plan regardless of holidays or events. This will maintain long-term abstinence.

  1. Choose the Good Stuff

Holiday events are stuffed with all the sugar, cream and treats you could possibly dream of.  But don’t forget to make healthy choices with the good stuff for a more well-balanced, nutritious meal. Follow your food plan and balanced portions of protein, vegetable, starch/grain, and fruit.  You’ll avoid that heavy feeling after eating that makes you want to curl up and take a quick nap.

  1. Brush Off Any Negativity

We all have that one family member who likes to comment on everyone’s weight. Yes, these comments may be insensitive and uncalled for, but it’s important for you not to react to these comments.  Speak up if someone is making you uncomfortable or change the subject to something more positive and appropriate for small talk.

  1. Invite a Friend to Attend

Having someone you can confide in during the holidays can make a world of difference. Bring a good friend or family member with you who knows you and your food issues well. If things get tough, it can be nice to have someone to talk to about it. If someone can’t go with it, have access to a phone so you can call your support network.

  1. Take Time to De-Stress

Be sure to take time for yourself and find ways to de-stress before the events happen. Self-care is important for avoiding triggers. Call your sponsor, go to a meeting, journal, make a gratitude list, meditate, try taking a yoga class or finding other ways to relax beforehand.

  1. Celebrate in Other Ways

The holidays don’t have to just be about food. There are plenty of fun activities you can do with your loved ones to break away from the usual food-centric nature of the holidays. Celebrate your abstinence by decorating wreaths with your family, going caroling, playing board games, and watching movies. Also, you can attend meetings or any homegroup activities.

  1. Speak Up About Your Feelings

If an event is triggering for you, speak up about it (if it feels comfortable for you). Asking for support from your family members is a great way to let them help you in avoiding possible stressors and poor choices.

  1. Have an Exit Plan

Sometimes these gatherings can be too much, and that’s okay. Find out where the holiday dinner is and familiarize yourself with some places where you can sneak off to when you need a quiet space to center yourself or to make a phone call.

  1. Remember It’s Okay to Say No!

Some events are bound to making you feel more anxious than others. If you know a gathering will be triggering for you, it’s okay to say no. It’s important to listen to your feelings and avoid pushing yourself for the sake of your family. Remaining abstinent is your primary purpose.

While the holidays can be a challenge, it is up to you to put your recovery first.  This holiday season, remember these tips to help make things easier, and most important of all, be kind to yourself during the holidays.

If you or someone you love is dealing with an eating disorder, contact Turning Point of Tampa today.