Dr. Cali Estes: Tips to Cope with an Eating Disorder over the Holiday Season
Most holiday parties, events, and get-togethers often involve one thing. Whether it’s a casual Sunday brunch with family and friends, or a formal corporate dinner, there is ALWAYS food. I mean, everyone needs to eat, right?
Well, for someone with an eating disorder, something as simple as nourishing our bodies, can quickly send them into a downward spiral of unhealthy, destructive behavior. Read on for a excerpt from a great article by Anna Medaris Miller on U.S. News, giving you tips to cope with an eating disorder.
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How to Cope With an Eating Disorder Over the Holidays
The season can heighten food anxieties, but there are ways to help yourself – or a loved one – get healthy.
Make a game plan. Before Meggie Sexton’s first Christmas post-treatment, she and her husband talked through what challenges she’d encounter and how she’d handle them. While meals were still overwhelming because she felt like all eyes were on her, their strategy helped. “[The disorder] is always going to have a little hold on me, but I know I’m stronger than the disorder now and know I can use my thoughts and my support group to not engage in unhealthy behaviors,” she says. Bulik recommends scoping out – and then avoiding – the rooms at a party that could be problematic, practicing graciously saying “no” to foods that will set you on a downward spiral and maintaining an inner dialogue to coach you through tough situations. “Be your own verbal therapist,” she suggests.
- Stick to a schedule. The holidays can disrupt anyone’s regular eating pattern, but eating three meals a day – plus snacks – is particularly important for people recovering from eating disorders. “If you move to that restrictive [eating pattern] so you can indulge over the weekend at all the holiday parties, it’s just going to put you in a bad place,” Sexton says. She avoids skipping meals to keep her on track.
- Be flexible. Still, it’s important to cut yourself some slack. “Slow down, enjoy food, be flexible and compassionate to [yourself] about what [you] eat,” says Susan Albers, a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic who specializes in eating issues. For Sexton, allowing some indulgences contributed to her recovery. “It helped me realize that I could eat that kind of food, and life would go on,” she says.
- Speak up. Unless they’ve gone through it themselves, most people don’t truly understand what it’s like to struggle with an eating disorder. That’s why you need to spell out to your family what you need from them, whether it’s to shorten the amount of time you’re sitting around the table or for them to keep their eyes off your plate during meals, Cruze says. She suggests telling them something like: “I love you, the holidays make me anxious, this is what I have to do to stay safe – and I hope you do the same thing for yourself.”
Click on link below for full article and the complete list of tips.