Coping with Eating Disorders During the Holidays

Woman putting a pecan pie in the oven for the holidays

Many people look forward to the holidays with anticipation and excitement. But for those with eating disorders, the season can be hard to navigate. It’s crucial to have a plan for managing eating disorders around the holidays. 

Dealing with anorexia, binge-eating disorder, or bulimia at Christmas or around any other holiday is tricky.

This article provides helpful strategies for coping with eating disorders during the holidays. 


How to Be Body Positive During the Holidays

Holidays and body positivity certainly don’t go hand-in-hand for most people. But there are ways you can continue to feel good about who you are and what you look like during the holidays. Learning what those strategies are and doing your best to practice them can change your perspective on the holiday season, making it your favorite time of the year. Use these 5 body positivity holiday tips to stay happy with who you are.


5 Tips for Managing Eating Disorders During the Holidays

It’s clear why eating disorders and Thanksgiving or eating disorders and the holidays, in general, can create stress for people with anorexia, binge-eating disorder, or bulimia. Thanksgiving is a holiday that, for most people, is centered around a large family meal. And there’s an emphasis on enjoying desserts, candy, and other treats throughout the holiday season. 

The best way to stay focused on your health is to learn about and use strategies like those below. 

1. Identify and dismiss “all-or-nothing” thinking

Looking at the way you eat as “good” or “bad” is unfair to yourself. Plus, it can lead to thoughts like, “If I’m going to be bad and eat dessert, I might as well give up and eat until I’m stuffed.” If you catch yourself thinking this way, remind yourself that you’re in control of your eating and you can allow yourself to enjoy holiday meals (or not partake in them) to whatever degree you choose.

2. Develop a holiday eating plan

Creating an eating plan ahead of the holidays can decrease the stress that comes from debating with yourself about how much you’ll eat in the days and hours leading up to the event. You’ve got your plan — you just need to stick to it.  

3. Host holiday gatherings

You can connect with the people you care about in a setting where you have more control over the food choices if you host one or more gatherings yourself. This doesn’t mean you should avoid all other events but having your party on the calendar means you can look forward to at least one less stressful holiday get-together.


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4. Limit your alcohol intake

Consuming alcohol can negatively impact your self-control and decision-making ability. Know how much alcohol you can consume (if any) before it has that effect on you and stop before you reach that point. That way, you can get into the party spirit if you decide to without lowering your inhibitions too much.

5. Eat a healthy meal before going out

As delicious as they may be, many of the foods commonly offered around the holidays — desserts, sweets, etc. — have very little nutritional value. Properly fueling your body before you attend a holiday party makes it easier to enjoy a few snacks without indulging more than you intend to. And, maintaining control while also getting some enjoyment from events is important for those with eating disorders around the holidays.

Nurture Your Mental Health

Concerns about eating disorders around the holidays are common, but you can make it through the season and even enjoy the parties and other gatherings. With a little bit of preparation and focus, the holidays can be both healthy and happy for you.

In some cases, talking with someone about your eating disorder and any anxiety it’s causing you around the holidays can be very helpful. If you need mental health support during the holidays, find a behavioral health provider near you in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. 


Next Steps and Useful Resources:

Find a Provider
How to Be Body Positive During the Holidays
Supporting Mental Wellness During the Holidays
Overcoming Holiday Depression and Anxiety

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