For an individual with an eating disorder the holidays can prove especially difficult, and seemingly simple commitments such as attending a holiday gathering and reuniting with family can become sources of tremendous anxiety and immense emotional strain. Excessive amounts of food, triggering foods, a plethora of alcohol and the obsession with consumption can all be overwhelming for an individual struggling with an eating disorder. Many individuals feel they need to isolate themselves during the holidays so they can avoid the triggers and obsessions associated with their eating disorder.
1. Be kind to yourself
The holiday spirit and the Thanksgiving holiday can often be linked with eating more than usual and that is okay. Be kind to yourself if you indulge during this holiday. Eating more robustly doesn’t mean by definition that you are out of control; it may mean that you’re enjoying the holiday with friends and family and eating more at one meal than what you’d otherwise expect.
2. Keeping with routine
Thanksgiving can be a trigger for eating large snacks or meals throughout the day. Stick to your regular eating schedule and eat a small meal or a snack before the turkey dinner if that is part of your routine.
3. Be strategic on how you fill your plate
When filling up your plate, try using portions to help you feel in control. First, pick out what you want to eat, and then divide up your plate into sections such as quarters, fifths, and sixths for each of the different foods you want to try. This can help organize what it is you are eating so you get enough variety of things that are on the table.
4. Listen to your body
Hunger and satiety cues are there for a reason. If you feel full, stop eating. If you are still hungry, go for seconds. Listening to your body is one of the best ways to practice mindfulness and it can leave both your belly and your brain satisfied.
5. Avoid negative food triggers
It is so common for us to make complain on how much we ate, how we need to “walk off our meal” or how too much food can make us sick. Remember that Thanksgiving is about sharing a big meal with people we care about so stay away from the negative comments and the negative thought patterns that can come with overindulging.
6. Eat dessert
We often skip dessert in everyday life but Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate and practice gratitude so eat slice of pumpkin or pecan pie without having any feelings of guilt.
7. Have fun
It is so easy to be bogged down with focusing on calories, carbohydrates, and eating too much but this is the one-day a year where we center our day on food. Remember to enjoy every bite and every conversation around the table.