The time between October and January are filled with holiday parties, pies, cakes, candy, decorating, gift giving and even more sweets and desserts. Many believe that maintaining eating disorder recovery around the holiday season is the toughest time because everything screams food. For family members, friends and loved ones of those with eating disorders, the question of gift giving can be troublesome. It may be hard to pick out a holiday gift for a loved one that is in eating disorder recovery because everything may seem like a trigger. From clothes and candy to baked goods and gym passes; many “typical” holiday gifts would be appreciated by many but can be triggering for those who are new to eating disorder recovery. As a rule of thumb, it is always important to stay away from clothes as many individuals in eating disorder recovery are triggered by numbers such as clothing sizes so if an individual is usually a size 28 but they fit into a size 30 for a certain brand, this can potentially trigger them to engage in restricting or purging behaviors in order to lose weight. Another rule of thumb is to stay away from giving sweets or any type of dessert, even though these are common gifts around the holidays. Baked goods such as cookies, cupcakes, candies and cakes can be triggering for individuals in eating disorder treatment as it can result in binging, calorie counting or obsessive thoughts about food. Below are great gift ideas to give a loved one in eating disorder recovery for the holiday season:
A reflection journal: Journaling is a way to release feelings and emotions and is a healthy coping skill for anyone undergoing treatment for a mental health disorder, including eating disorders. There are many inspirational journals with quotes, pictures and stories that can help an individual reflect on their current state of mind.
Socks: This may seem silly but everyone always loves warm, fuzzy socks, especially around the holidays and socks are not sized. Try picking out a funny pair of socks or socks that reflect the individual even if they don’t wear them out, they are comfortable to wear around the house and can always lift emotions.
Books: Giving a book is one of the best gifts as reading can be a relaxing hobby. Try to find out what your loved one is interested in and find a book that suits their interests. Try to stay away from books that talk about food, alcohol, or body image as these subjects can be triggering. You can even give a book you recently read and write a nice note on the cover page.
Handmade gifts such as candles or body scrub: Handmade gifts are some of the best gifts because there was a lot of love and effort that went into making them. There are so many DIY crafting gift ideas that are perfect for the holiday season. Candles, homemade body scrubs, bath bombs, and facemasks are just a few.
Shoes: Although shoes are sized, they do not reflect body image or weight and can still be worn to match an outfit. Most women love shoes and most guys need shoes so it is hard to go wrong with this gift. Make sure to include the gift receipt because depending on the fit, they may have to be exchanged.
Eating disorder treatment around the holidays
Eating disorders are especially triggering around this time of year and eating disorder treatment centers work closely with clients on short notice to provide immediate treatment whether it is first time treatment or a recurrent relapse. Eating disorder treatment teams consist of therapists, nutritionists, nurses and doctors who have experience in mental health disorders and eating disorders. Depending on the severity of the disorder, treatment can be outpatient or inpatient and can consist of multifaceted treatment modalities. The holidays should not be an excuse to forgo eating disorder treatment, as these can be some of the worst months for triggers and relapses.