The holidays are a magical and beautiful time of year, although food, family and parties can add stress and imbalance. Here are a few tips on staying happy and healthy this holiday.
Continue to eat intuitively. Don’t restrict yourself from any foods if you don’t have to (prescribed). Eat what you enjoy and the amount that will satisfy your whole being. Check in with yourself about your satiety levels to be sure you are meeting your body’s’ needs.
Handle diet talk. Try to avoid “deprivation and guilt” talk (see previous post). Keep triggers such as “today is my cheat day” or “I am going to need to go on a diet after this meal” outside of yourself. Neutralize these messages with a pep talk to yourself: “I am proud of myself for tuning into my body’s needs and eating intuitively.”
No more “now or never.” Sometimes when we sit before a spread of delicious food, we want to have plenty (or too much) of it because we are unsure the next time is that we will get to eat that certain food. Stuffing, turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, they all can be enjoyed throughout the year, not just on Thanksgiving.
Alone time. Take time for yourself during the holiday. Set aside time in the morning, evening or both just for you. Tune into a holiday movie, go for a walk, read a book, something that will give you a break from the craziness of the day. This will also help you tune in to how you are doing and check in with yourself. What do you need to feel good? What will help you cope with the business?
Shifting focus. Instead of fixating on food, how much, how little, feeling guilty or depriving yourself, shift your focus to gratitude! After all, gratitude is the purpose of Thanksgiving! Keep an ongoing list of gratitudes that you come up with during the day, or simply make mental note of them: I am grateful for my family, this delicious food, the ability to trust my body, the day off of work.
Eating Disorders and Holidays
For those who are in eating disorder recovery, holidays can be a tough time. The best advice I can give you is to be prepared. I don’t recommend overthinking the holiday. Have a conversation with someone in your support team, or journal about how you can set yourself up for success.
Have a safety net in place in case you are triggered. This person could be a parent, sibling friend, therapist or nutritionist, someone you can lean on in recovery. My safety net was and always will be my mom. I know that I can pull her aside at any point to have an honest conversation and she will help me work through my triggers.
Stick to your meal plan. When you are facing a day full of people, conversation and food, which can already be overwhelming. Incorporating fear foods that you have not yet worked with in recovery (wine, dessert, etc.) would be difficult to handle amidst the holiday. Enjoy Thanksgiving day with foods that you are comfortable with.
Know the schedule of the day. Knowing how the day is going to unfold can help you plan your meals and snacks. This will also minimize anxiety that can crop up around mealtime.
Identify your triggers. On the left side of a piece of paper, create a list of triggers and brainstorm things that your relatives might say to you that may be triggering. On the right hand side of the paper, come up with specific soothing techniques to match each trigger and list responses that you can have ready in case something uncomfortable is said. Knowing your own triggers is one of the best way to take care of yourself.
Be honest with your loved ones about your boundaries. Let them know that you don’t want comments being made about your plate of food or your body.
Gratitude. Before the day ends, thank those who you love that have been your greatest supporters in your recovery. Thank your body for surviving and thriving in recovery.