For anyone who is dealing with an eating disorder, or who is still in recovery from one, the Holidays can be a very difficult time. Holiday time may mean spending time with family members that you may not see frequently, plus the focus on an endless variety of foods and eating traditions.
Ask yourself, what kind of Holiday do you want to have? What would you like to be different this year from in the past? Who are the people in your family or gathering who will leave you with positive and energetic feelings? Focus on how YOU can positively affect your Holiday experience!!Here are a few basic suggestions to keep in mind during the Holidays:
**Consider times and places that may cause you increased stress. Remember you can make choices about where you will go ahead of time. Stick with your plans.
**Decide on a friend or family member who can be available to you if you are feeling stressed. It's important to have a plan so that you can prevent self-destructive behaviors.
**Be sure to get enough sleep. The Holidays bring extra activities and much hustle and bustle, and if you deprive your mind and body of adequate sleep it can create an unhealthy balance and leave you less prepared to handle the added stress.
**Plan to eat three meals a day to help prevent the urge to binge or added focus on food. Stick to your 'recovery' routine as usual.
**Plan time for self-care. You need time every day, even if only 15 minutes, to regenerate and relax, and refocus on recovery. This could be seeing a movie, calling a friend, meditating, or something that you know works for you.
**Make sure that there is food available that you feel comfortable eating. The best way to do this is to offer to bring a dish that you know you are comfortable eating. The goal is to decrese your anxiety around food as much as possible.
**Allow yourself some 'treats'. Deprivation is not self-care and is more likely to lead to resentment, binges or further restriction. Being judgmental of yourself for allowing yourself to eat some 'different' foods is only detrimental to your feelings about yourself and your recovery.
**Think about any boundaries that you may need to set with others...including food boundaries. If someone makes a comment about your weight or what you are eating, you can kindly reply with thanks for their concern, and assurance to them that you are taking care of yourself. If someone persists, you have every right to remove yourself from the situation or ignore them.
**Use positive self-talk. Remind yourself that you are in control of your choices, that you have the right to say 'no', that you are honoring your recovery by making a certain choice, and that you do NOT have to be perfect!!Follow up each day with a gratitude list for the things you are grateful for, including YOU!!
**Enjoy yourself! Step back and look at the bigger picture. Take time to enjoy your family and the essence of the Holiday season. Try to create memories and special moments instead of wishing things were different.