It may help you to navigate hard conversations and situations that may happen during this season. Read on to see what tips for recovery you can add to your toolbox.
The holidays can be a difficult time of year for those who are in recovery from an eating disorder. Feeling a huge mix of emotions such as anxiety, fear, dread, excitement, hopefulness, and joy all at the same time is common and 100% normal. Giving yourself the space to feel these emotions and reflect upon them through a non-judgmental and self-compassionate lens is key for working through the pressure you may face during the holidays. And let’s be real, the holiday season is LONG and can feel like an eternity. Having a solid game plan of how you’re going to tackle the holidays is important because recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. Curating a holiday toolbox with tips for recovery beforehand can increase your self-confidence and reduce anxiety. It also may help you stay present and able to engage with yourself and loved ones.
Here are 10 tips for recovery to add to your toolbox to help you in navigating the holiday this year:
1. Choose to unfollow triggering and disordered social media accounts.
The first tip for recovery is to unfollow social media accounts that do not serve you. It is especially important to be mindful of the messages that you allow into your feed during the holidays. Influencers are notorious for promoting “resets” and “detoxes”during this time these are not evidence based. If you see disordered messaging on your feed, unfollow. Focus on replacing harmful accounts with inspirational accounts that promote food freedom, body positivity, health at every size, and intuitive eating! Read our blog about curating a positive social media or visit our resources page for accounts to follow.
2. Identify a safe person to talk to
The next tip is to know that you do not have to get through the holidays alone! Everyone needs and deserves a support person. A support person is someone to confide in about struggles, someone to receive validation from. This is also someone to celebrate recovery successes with, and someone who can hold you accountable and remind you of why recovery is worth it. This person can be a close friend, parent, relative, sibling, or partner. Reflect on who that person may be for you and reach out to establish the connection!
3. Establish table topic boundaries.
For many, it is natural to want to talk about food and nutrition related topics around the dinner table when enjoying a meal. Oftentimes, the intention is harmless. In reality, conversations surrounding food and bodies takes away from enjoying the meal and good company. During recovery, having an honest conversation with friends and family about topics that are not welcomed is a hard but empowering step to take. Discouraging comments about calories, macronutrients, bodies, exercise, or weight focused new year’s resolutions ahead of time is a way you can be proactive. By doing this you create a positive environment for yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable having this conversation with friends or family, reach out to your support person and ask that they help you facilitate a boundary.
4. Diet Culture Comebacks
People aren’t perfect and that’s okay! Even if you establish table talk boundaries people may slip up and accidentally make a comment you find triggering. A good tip for recovery is to always have some respectful but straightforward responses stored in your back pocket to derail the conversation from going any further and to reinforce the boundary you may have previously set. Here is an example of a comeback to a common diet culture comment:
They say: I can’t believe I just ate so much! I’m definitely doing a workout first thing in the AM”.
Your response: “We don’t need to worry about burning off our food. Would it be okay if we didn’t talk about food or exercise right now?
If saying something along those lines doesn’t feel quite right for you, make it your own!
5. Walk Away
Having some diet culture comebacks is an effective way for handling unhelpful commentary but sometimes it is HARD to respond. It can be especially hard if you are having a rough day and don’t know what to say. That is okay! Don’t put pressure on yourself to respond to every comment someone makes. When you are feeling too tired or frustrated to respond, give yourself space, like stepping into another room or outside to get some fresh air. Removing yourself from a conversation that is causing you distress shows amazing strength and courage.
6. Understanding that not everyone is reachable or teachable
Educating friends and family on Health at Every Size and Intuitive Eating is a wonderful goal however, it can be challenging for some people (especially those who are entrenched in diet culture themselves) to understand these concepts even if you explain it to them. If you are receiving pushback, send compassion to this person, do not take this personally. A good tip for recovery is to let it go. They may not be in a place to receive this information. Be proud of yourself for introducing them to the topics and planting a seed in their minds that there is an alternative to the diet mentality.
The one constant in recovery is change. Recovery is often not linear and there might be bumps in the road, but those bumps do not define your self-worth. Collect some notecards, colorful pens, stickers, and a box or even a rubber band! Come up with some self-affirmation and write them out on the notecards for you to look at during hard days. Make them vibrant and personal! Sometimes seeing written words of affirmation is more powerful than saying them to yourself in your head. Some examples could be “My body does not define my worth”, “I am enough”, and “I am strong, I am powerful, I am capable”. It may seem small, but creating these cards can offer a positive reminder during a difficult time and help you in navigating the holiday with a better mindset.
8. Wear Comfy Clothes
Pick an outfit that makes you feel like 100 bucks. Especially on holidays, making sure that you are wearing something comfortable and cozy that doesn’t pinch, fall down, or require constant adjustment is essential. Your belly naturally expands during and after a meal and if your clothing is uncomfortable or too tight you may find yourself stopping before you feel full or satisfied. Wearing a festive flowy dress or an oversized sweater with a nice pair of leggings are two great outfit options that you can try.
9. Plan Family or Solo Activities
Sometimes, especially early in recovery, it can be hard to sit with feeling “full”. If you are around friends and family, get everyone together for an activity that doesn’t revolve around food! You can play board or card games, watch movies, spend time with pets and babies, or tell stories around a fire. If you’re looking for some quiet time, you can do some self-care activities like taking a hot shower, meditating, curling up with a good book, or journaling. Focus on being present with your loved ones and with yourself!
10. Consistency is Key
The last tip is to eat consistently. Whether or not you have a meal plan, eating consistently will set you up for success. Try to eat within 90 minutes of waking up and start off the day with a variety of food groups. This will help stabilize your blood sugar, boost your mood, and help you tap into true hunger cues for the rest of the day. It can be hard to cook meals with so many cooks in the kitchen trying to prepare a holiday dinner. Plan ahead and have some ready to eat snacks available when hunger strikes!
Some ideas are making pasta with a yummy sauce (marinara, alfredo, pesto, the possibilities are endless!) the night before and warm it up for lunch, stock up on hummus, cheese, crackers and pita bread, or have a yogurt with some tasty granola, a piece of fresh fruit and trail mix. It may also be fun to make a “snack board” and normalize snacking for the entire family during the day leading up to a meal.
If you are looking for additional tips for recovery during the holidays or to support your recovery through an eating disorder, reach out to Courage to Nourish Nutrition. Our practice is currently accepting new clients! Learn more about our wonderful team of Registered Dietitians and how we can help!
I grew up right outside of Washington DC and became interested in nutrition and health at a young age. I went on to study Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and graduated in the Spring of 2019. I completed the Cornell Dietetic Internship in June of 2020 and recently became a Registered Dietitian. Currently, I am working towards becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner through the accelerated BSN/MSN program at the University of Pennsylvania. I am a Health at Every Size© and Intuitive Eating advocate and look forward to helping you get set up with one of our amazing team members to begin your recovery journey.