How to Avoid Eating Disorder Triggers During the Holidays
The holiday season is usually associated with fun traditions, especially those that revolve around food. However, for someone struggling with an eating disorder, the holidays can be especially stressful and challenging. Here are our best tips to help you enjoy the holidays with less stress:
1. Be mindful of the holidays.
Holidays are not just for eating and drinking. Shift the focus away from food by taking time to reflect on the significance of being together with your friends and family and the joy it brings to be together, happy and healthy.
2. Cope ahead. One of the most important things is to know your triggers. If there are certain conversation topics or situations that can be challenging for you to cope with, envision how you want to react-in a healthy way--if or when they happen. Prepare what you will say because it can help you stay calm and focused.
3. Continue with your treatment. Don’t put your recovery on pause; keep meeting your treatment team and continue with your therapy like normal.
4. Communicate. Tell your loved ones about your situation, explain your fears and concerns and tell them how much you value their support and encouragement. An open and honest dialogue can make them aware of your eating disorder's complexity and the difficulties that holidays can bring.
5. Set boundaries. After you tell friends and family about your recovery process, ask them not to be pushy with food or conversation topics. Explain they can help you avoid some common triggers with just a little effort and care on their part.
6. Have a support friend. Make arrangements with some of your recovery peers or friends to act as your support during the holidays if you begin to struggle or have panic attacks. At this time, having a support buddy can be especially powerful and uplifting.
7. Have a stress outlet. Whether it’s writing, jogging, walking, painting or yoga, make sure you have some creative or active stress outlet you can turn to throughout the holiday season.
8. Have an exit strategy. A simple step is to prepare what you’ll say if you want to leave a gathering early. Don’t let anyone guilt-trip you; your recovery always comes first.
9. Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals is a slippery slope, especially during the holiday season. Follow your meal plan, keep your regular eating habits and remember your why.
Keeping up with your recovery during the holiday season requires some thoughtfulness and planning, but it’s not impossible. And if you don’t stick exactly to your plan, don’t beat yourself about it.