Having an eating disorder (ED) during the holidays is extremely difficult. Being able to recognize if you feel you are slipping back into ED behaviors is important for you to talk about with your support system for accountability in effort to prevent acting on these thoughts.
Signs/symptoms to recognize:
- Eating patterns (thoughts around skipping a meal or snack)
- Physical activity (exercising more to “burn off” what you ate instead of enjoying exercise for movement and mental health)
- Physical symptoms (cold hands, cold feet, dizzy)
- Social Functioning (not going out to see family or friends)
If you do not feel supported during the holidays, reach out to your treatment team. Setting plans and intentions can help you move forward.
How to ensure you are not engaging in ED behaviors?
Treat it like any other day! Skipping meals or snacks are very common thoughts of an ED due to the anxiety and fear around overeating. However, whether restricting the day before, day of, day after, etc., restriction can lead to binge eating. You may feel that you need to “save up” for the “big meal” but these actions can backfire and lead you right back into the restrict-binge cycle or binge-restrict cycle. Having a plan can help with adding structure to the holidays.
Should I still eat all meals and snacks during the holidays?
Yes! You still want to ensure you are eating your 3 core meals and snacks. Eating consistently throughout the day (i.e. eating every 3-4 hours) helps with keeping your blood sugars stable. Through keeping your blood sugars stable, your energy and hunger levels stay stable as well. Most importantly, you are providing your body with the energy it needs. Try to plan somewhat ahead of time to ensure you are adhering to your structured eating plan (i.e., bring snacks if traveling, etc.).
Utilizing these tools listed below can help you work through anxiety and develop a plan during the holidays:
- Anticipate potential difficult situations and create a plan (i.e., triggering conversations, coping skills if going to be around an environment that makes you anxious, etc.).
- Determine where and when you will be eating
- Eat next to someone you feel comfortable around
- Avoid sitting around or near people who engage in unhealthy conversations
- Have a support team (friend, significant other, family member, therapist, dietitian)
- Avoid an “all or nothing mentality” – get right back to your structured plan if you engage in ED behaviors
- Incorporate healthy movement
- Set boundaries with alcohol consumption (alcohol is a depressant and you do not want to exacerbate anxiety or depression)
- It is also important to limit alcohol intake in regards to heart health and overall wellbeing
- Get enough sleep
- Stay hydrated
Develop Healthy Eating Habits
We understand that it can be difficult to develop good eating habits when it comes to your diet and having the right support can make a huge difference. Our Behavioral Therapists can help pinpoint behaviors that are leading to disordered eating and find ways to replace them. Behavioral Therapy Services are designed to give each patient a personalized plan that works for them.
Trust yourself, have confidence and remember you are capable of pushing yourself one step closer in your recovery. Remember, it is normal to eat more than you typically do during the holidays!