If you think about it, this makes perfect sense: those who are recovering from eating disorders seem to struggle more during the holidays. The problem is, many people DON'T think about it.
We should be. The heightened stress associated with an overwhelming schedule of events, painful or frustrating family dynamics and a seemingly constant focus on food that begins at Halloween and continues through New Year's Day can be devastating to recovery!
Create your holiday schedule carefully.
You don't have to attend every holiday party, meal or gift exchange to get in the holiday spirit. Prioritize your health and well-being over external obligations and be realistic about what you can manage.
Shift the focus from food to family and friends.
For some, rich seasonal fare and sweets can make eating in moderation difficult. For others, overabundant food and large meals can cause anxiety. Accept that food is typically a part of holiday get-togethers and turn your focus to meaningful interaction with family and friends.
Lean on your supportive network.
Surround yourself with people that have positive relationships with food and their bodies, and stay in close contact with outpatient treatment professionals — including psychiatrists, therapists and dietitians. Discuss your feelings, victories and challenges with these individuals as they arise and before issues become significant enough to threaten recovery.
Be kind to yourself.
The perfectionistic minds of those suffering from an eating disorder can make it difficult for them to accept when events do not go as planned. One perceived misstep does not make or break your recovery progress. Be proud of yourself for making an effort, however big or small and whatever the outcome.
If you're reading this and you're family or friends with someone recovering from an eating disorder, you should try to be flexible with holiday traditions — and try things that don't revolve around food!
Being together should be your theme!
Happy holidays, everyone!
[Image via AP Images.]