Well Being

How To Cope With Holiday Weight and Eating Stress…Without Triggering An Eating Disorder Relapse

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And while food is often the main focus of the holidays, that doesn’t have to be the only way to celebrate with friends and family. Brennan mentions how:

“A great way to spend time together would be in non-food activities. For example, making crafts together, walking around the mall shopping, looking through photo albums and remembering past holidays are great ways to celebrate the holiday season and do not revolve around food. Remember that this is your holiday too. Pushing to make things perfect may only make you more irritable and resentful that the season flew by without a chance for you to relax.”

My favorite idea of finding non-food related ways to celebrate the holidays involves pampering yourself. While I bought myself a pair of amazing pajama pants for the holidays, I hadn’t thought of Brennan’s idea of actually wrapping up the present for myself:

“The holiday season does not have to be only about buy gifts for others, you can use this opportunity to reward yourself with a gift as well. One of mine favorite things to do is buy myself a gift that no one else would know I wanted, wrap it and put it under the tree. Treating yourself with a manicure or pedicure or massage is also a great idea. Do something that allows you to relax and slow down a bit during this busy holiday season.”

For friends, family, and loved ones of those going through eating disorder recovery, the best way to help is mostly to stay an active listener. Brennan notes that:

“As a friend or loved one of someone recovered from an eating disorder, it is always better to ask questions than to assume the answer… Rather than trying to fix a specific problem, for example, preventing someone from purging after meals, ask what you can do to help. Ask questions like, ‘I noticed you were struggling, what are you needing?’ Additionally, if you as a support system work to reduce your anxiety around this time of year, it can help those moving through recovery reduce their anxiety as well.”

Not all of the stress and eating disorder triggers during the holidays come from sitting around a table of food. Sitting around the T.V. with family, watching football, holiday movies, or hockey is a pretty common scenario for many people. Be aware of the media you are consuming and how it might affect the way you see your body. In a note that hit home for me, Brennan talked about how she “advise[s] individuals to be selective about the choice of TV they watch around the holiday season and the New Year. Commercials and talk shows take on a weight-loss focus when the focus should instead be more on how you feel, not how you look.”

A minor relapse doesn’t have to lead to a full relapse. A bump in the road to eating disorder recovery, particularly during the holidays, is totally normal. Stay open and honest with those you love and trust this holiday season. Don’t lose faith in your recovery. Take time to honor yourself and remember that despite whatever your family traditions are, you’re allowed to create your own holiday rituals, just with yourself in mind.

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