The holiday season is a particularly stressful time for many of my patients that are in treatment for obesity and eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, bulimarexia, or binge eating disorder. Holiday gatherings are typically highly food-centered, which results in a lot of anxiety for those recovering from an eating disorder. I’ve created a list of useful tips on reducing holiday stress. I know this will help a lot of my patients!
- Eat regularly throughout the day. Don’t skip meals in anticipation of a large dinner.
- Be prepared. Try to find out what is being served ahead of time and work some of the foods you feel comfortable with into the meal. Bring one of your favorite dishes to share with the dinner guests, that way you will know you will have something you feel good about eating.
- Discuss any specific concerns with your treatment specialist. Try to role play situations that you suspect may arise (such as comments about your weight, about your food choices etc). Be as prepared as you can be to avoid counter-productive coping behaviors.
- Have an “emergency plan” in case you find yourself in a stressful situation. Get some fresh air, go to another room and practice some relaxation or deep breathing exercises, arrange for a close friend to be “on-call” in case you need someone to talk to.
- Is someone going to be at the dinner that you feel makes healthy choices? Pay attention to what they are eating, their portion sizes. Use them as your reality check.
- Set realistic goals. Don’t set yourself up for a stressful holiday season by over-scheduling yourself. You need to be your own #1. Make sure you leave some time to focus on yourself, allow yourself to get an adequate amount of sleep, engage in activities that make you feel good (exercise, relax or meditate).
- Don’t isolate! Spend time with family and friends. If it isn’t possible to physically be with your loved ones, have a phone conversation or use Skype! Isolating yourself won’t make you feel better, in many situations it may even make you feel worse.
- Be in the moment! Enjoy the time with your loved ones, have great conversations, laugh, make memories!
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Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship. This information is not necessarily the position of Dr. J. Renae Norton or The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity.
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