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Navigating the Holidays While in Eating Disorder Recovery

Thanksgiving (and the holiday season in general) can be particularly difficult while you are in Eating Disorder recovery. Here are some tips and tricks to consider as you approach this season:

  1. Work with your dietitian and therapist to plan, predict, process, and strategize.

  2. Use the holiday to “challenge” yourself and begin to venture into new territory and expand food choices. Be sure your Thanksgiving plate demonstrates balance and variety.

  3. Watch for “black and white” thinking. If you feel like you’ve “blown it,” take some time to practice therapeutic skills and cognitive defusion. Be flexible when setting guidelines for yourself and expectations of yourself and others. Take a holiday from self-imposed criticism, rigidity, and perfectionism.

  4. Follow your meal plan consistently. That means not skipping breakfast, lunch, and snacks because you’re attending a dinner that evening. Your body needs consistency and regularity of meals in order to stay on track.

  5. Plate your food and find a seat away from the serving area. Shift your focus to the company and the conversation. The holiday season is a great time to reflect, enjoy relationships and loved ones, give back, and feel gratitude for blessings. Let this be your focus!

  6. Have a pep talk with yourself before you leave for Thanksgiving dinner. Use this time to set your intention and how you want to speak to yourself.

  7. Choose a family member who can act as a safety net for you if addictive behaviors, negative thoughts, or difficult emotions arise. Another option is to think of someone you can call if this happens and let them know in advance of your concerns, needs, and the possibility of you calling them for emotional support.

  8. Consider choosing one loved one to be your reality check with food, to either help you fix your plate or give you sound feedback on the food portion sizes you make for yourself.

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