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Celebrating holidays often involves gathering around food. Navigating these food-related events can be particularly challenging for those experiencing disordered eating and eating disorders.
Over the past few weeks, I have had many conversations with clients about how to get through the holidays. To get this conversation started, I often ask clients what has worked in the past or what they think might be helpful this year. After all, they are the experts of their experience. When answering my question, many of my clients came up with great strategies, which I thought might be useful for others to hear.
That being said, here is a list of strategies for navigating the holidays with an eating disorder, inspired by my brilliant clients.
Start fresh every day
Every day, press the “reset” button. No matter what you ate yesterday, your body needs adequate fuel today. Do your best to limit how your food intake in the previous days will impact your food choices today. Your body is worthy of nourishment. Every. Single. Day.
Keep your eyes on your plate
Try to limit noticing other people’s food choices. If you do glance at other people’s plates, remember that every human being has different needs, hunger levels, and food preferences. It’s okay if your plate looks different! Honour what works for YOU.
Take time a few times a day to check-in with yourself and your body. Do your best to acknowledge your needs. Do you need a snack? A hug? Alone time? What will make today easier for you?
Put together a support plan
If things start becoming challenging, who can you turn to for support? Perhaps a friend, a family member, or a helpline you can call?
In Canada, the you can call the National Eating Disorder Information Centre helpline from Monday – Friday from 9am – 9pm to get support. Alternatively, you can call your local distress line for general mental health support.
Eat regular meals
As much as possible, continue having regular meals. Limit meal skipping, or big gaps of time without eating. Try not to reduce the size of meals in anticipation of a larger meal. We need adequate nutrition several times throughout the day!
Most of all, do your best to find self-compassion over the holidays. It can be a truly tough time of year for many reasons. Sometimes, things may not go as planned. That’s okay.
Be gentle with yourself, friend. You’ve got this.