Are you finding an increase in anxiety due to the start of the holiday season? What comes to mind when you hear the word “holiday”? While this will certainly vary from person to person based on our background and culture, there are some common denominators, such as preparation, parties, family/friends, traditions, customs, resolutions and, of course, food. If you are recovering from an eating disorder and are envisioning yourself at a holiday party or dinner with anxiety, you are not alone! Below are 10 tips to not only survive but also thrive during this time of year.
1. Develop SMART Goals with your treatment team. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. Create manageable goals and check in frequently with your treatment team. Remember, recovery is not a straight line and is often one step back, two steps forward, three steps ahead, etc. SMART goals can help continue the progress toward recovery.
2. Set intentions for your meals. Anxiety can mask our physiological hunger and/or fullness. Despite any disordered eating, you know that consistency will keep you on the journey toward recovery. Consistency coupled with a positive intention or mantra will be helpful. Remember, one step and one meal at a time.
3. Practice being flexible with your thoughts and eating patterns. Holidays often involve seeing family and friends. Practice flexibility with your plans and other people’s decisions. Be sure to discuss flexible eating with your dietitian and how to manage any anxiety around this idea.
4. Use opposition action. Holidays can become repetitive with following traditions, going to the same yearly events, and being exposed to the same foods and media. The eating disorder may make experiencing traditions more difficult. Doing the opposite of what the eating disorder wants is a great way to foster change and challenge disordered thoughts.
5. Plan your events. Find a balance with your treatment team on what events are manageable and what events may not be manageable at this time in your recovery. Be true to not succumbing to the eating disorder and provide yourself with authentic and manageable challenges.
6. Plan self-care. What have you found to be soothing and relaxing? During a stressful time this is so necessary. Make time in your schedule for you.
7. Make a New Year’s Resolution if it serves you and not the eating disorder. Quite often, New Year’s Resolutions revolve around unrealistic goals pertaining to food, weight and body. Maybe a vision board is a more suitable idea for you. If resolutions are something that interest you, be sure that they are realistic, congruent with your recovery goals and serve you in a positive way.
8. Practice reaching out. A support system is a crucial part of recovery in general, especially during stressful times, such as the holidays. Discuss any hesitations you may have about reaching out with your treatment team and recognize the importance of having a secure support system.
9. Take a look back to keep moving forward. Holidays come about every year and this gives chances for lessons during recovery. Think about past events and how to turn challenges into triumphs. Utilize past lessons for future positive experiences.
10. Think about what holidays are truly about. No matter the religion, there is some meaning deeper than food, gifts, and food. Connect with something that is meaningful and purposeful for you and allow that connection to guide you through the holiday you are celebrating.
Kerry Fannon, MS, RD, LDN, RYT, CEDRD is a Registered Dietitian and founder of Namaste Nourished, LLC. She specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, disordered eating and body image dissatisfaction for adults and adolescents. Kerry utilizes principles of Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size (HAES) for individualized nutrition therapy and family nutrition therapy. Kerry received her Bachelor of Science degree from Auburn University and holds a Master’s degree in Food and Nutrition from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She is a credentialed Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) through IAEDP. In addition, she is a Registered Yoga Teacher and Reiki Practitioner and incorporates this into her work with eating disorders if it is of interest to the individuals she works with. Kerry facilitates seminars and workshops on Intuitive Eating/HAES in the South Florida community. Visit her website HERE.