Eating Disorder Recovery Tips: Navigating the Holidays

Use these eating disorder recovery tips to help you navigate this holiday season in recovery.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The air is crisper, the leaves have changed, the PSL is back at Starbucks, and holiday get-togethers are in full swing.

It should be a time for connection and celebration however, when you are recovering from an eating disorder/disordered eating behaviors, this season can be especially difficult to navigate. 

You deserve to be fully present with friends and family this holiday season. Follow these tips written by an eating disorder dietitian to learn more about how to navigate the holidays in recovery.

We highly recommend reading our other article on eating disorder recovery next. It is another great resource for those going through ED recovery.

Eating Disorder Recovery Tips: 5 Tips to Navigate the Holidays

Eating disorder recovery tips, tips for navigating holidays

Below are some tips to help you navigate the most wonderful time of the year when you’re in recovery.

We know that eating disorder recovery looks different for everyone. Choose which of these eating disorder recovery tips resonate with you, and leave what doesn’t.  

1. Try to focus on what really matters.

It sounds simple, but shifting your focus to things other than your critical voice can help you stay present and connected to what is really going on around you. This can be an intentional choice to focus on a conversation with a loved one, the holiday scents while shopping, or your favorite Christmas movie. It may be helpful to simply reflect on what the holiday season means to you or reminisce on joyful memories. 

2. Communicate your boundaries.

It can be tough to advocate for yourself when it comes to setting boundaries with loved ones but it is crucial for protecting your peace in recovery. It is okay to communicate to your family and friends that you do not want to be a part of conversations on dieting or body/diet related New Year’s resolutions. Walking away from a conversation or simply changing the topic can be an effective way to steer clear of certain subjects as well. 

3. Utilize your support team.

Make a list of individuals on your support team, whether they are members from your care team (therapist, registered dietitian, doctor, etc.), family members, or friends you can lean on in a difficult time. Not everyone will be able to work with you through the tough feelings but loved ones can listen and sit with you through hard moments.

4. Continue your meal and snack plan, even if there is a holiday party.

Regardless of what festivities may be going on later in the day, stick to your meal and snack plan to ensure you are getting enough energy and nutrients throughout the day. Of course, you can enjoy all the delicious food that the gathering has to offer, but you do not need to restrict yourself to accommodate other plans.

Eating disorder recovery tips to navigate the holidays

5. Respond to diet talk or body comments with ease.

For some strange reason, it is still all too common to receive an unsolicited comment on your body or plate, and this can be even more frustrating and distressing in recovery. Although you cannot control what others say, you can control your response, and having some pre-planned comebacks can make these holiday interactions a little easier.

Here are a few possible responses to body comments, listed with increasing sass: 

  • “I’m actually working on accepting and respecting my body, and I would appreciate it if we didn’t discuss it”
  • “My body is the least interesting thing about me, and it isn’t a very interesting topic of conversation”
  • “Your focus on my body makes me uncomfortable” 
  • *Walk away*

And, of course, when food is involved, it leaves room for potential comments on your plate or intake.

Here are a few potential responses to unsolicited food comments or diet talk:

  • “I appreciate your concern, but I can manage my own eating”
  • “Everyone eats differently”
  • “I’m happy with what is on my plate now, thank you”
  • “I know what is best for my body”
  • “I’m glad that works for you; diets never worked for me”

Eating Disorder Recovery Tips: The Takeaway

Eating disorder recovery tips to navigate the holidays

Holidays can be a difficult time in recovery, but utilizing your tools and support systems can help make them a little more manageable.

You deserve a life where you are fully present to enjoy all the love and connection life has to offer. Remember that holidays will not always be this hard. 

If you or someone you know is looking for more support in ED recovery, check out our 1:1 nutrition coaching to see if working with an intuitive eating-aligned, weight-neutral dietitian is right for you. And remember, you deserve holidays (and a life!) free from restriction and deprivation.

Looking for free content and resources? Follow me over on my Instagram page for more ED, intuitive eating, and body image content from a dietitian in Philadelphia, PA!

Written by Emily Adkisson, RDN

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