Guest Blog: 4 Tips for Enjoying the Holidays in Recovery

Image by Kirsten Skiles

By Emma Balek

Many people look forward to the holiday season, but for people struggling with eating disorders or going through recovery, this season can cause a lot of anxiety and stress.  Here are some tips for not letting your eating disorder get in the way of enjoying the holidays.

1. Don’t focus on the food

Remember that holidays are about spending time with your loved ones and appreciating what you have; food is a very small part of it. This holiday season, focus on the relationships with others that make holidays so special.  When you stop thinking about food and focus on the positive things in your life and what you are thankful for, you may notice that the holidays make you feel a lot less anxious.

2. If you’re craving something sweet, allow yourself to have it

Sometimes, when we don’t give into cravings, we end up thinking about them even more. If you have a craving that you can’t stop thinking about, tell yourself that you’re going to allow yourself to have this treat and enjoy it, then do your best to stop thinking about it. Remember that you should never feel guilty or ashamed about eating. That treat that you had has absolutely nothing to do with your worth as a person.

3. Don’t skip meals in anticipation of one big meal or a lot of sweet treats

Often times during the holidays, people will skip a meal or two because they know they are going to eat a bigger meal later. This often backfires. When you don’t respect your hunger cues, you’re likely to feel even more guilt when the big meal comes around. As much as possible, stick to your meal plan (and listen to your hunger cues) throughout the day. You may even feel better if you eat a small snack before a holiday dinner or party.

4. Reach out to your support network

If you have someone close to you who you trust and who will support you, reach out to them. Now is the best time to ask for support from those helping you through recovery (such as a dietitian or psychologist). Asking for support can feel vulnerable, but through practice, this act will help you to grow stronger in your recovery.

Most importantly, always remind yourself that you are strong, and you absolutely have the ability to enjoy the holiday season and not let your eating disorder get in the way.  You are worth so much more than you realize, and what you eat during the holiday season has absolutely nothing to do with that.

–Meet Emma: 

 Emma Balek is a dietetics student at Boston University and a certified fitness instructor.  Her personal struggles with anorexia nervosa, and the media’s false information about health is what inspired her to study nutrition.  She intends to pursue a career in eating disorder recovery. If there is one thing she wants people to know, it is that you should never lose hope that a full recovery is possible.