We all know that the Holiday Season can be the best and the worst of times for many people. For people with eating disorders such as binge eating disorder, bulimia and anorexia, the holidays can often present overwhelming levels of stress. Since most holidays are centered on the subject of food, such events are often anxiety ridden for those with eating disorders. Issues with family members, painful past holiday memories, feeling isolated, lack of sleep and pressure to eat more or less can trigger and exacerbate eating disorders.

So how can you deal with the stress and anxiety of the holidays? The following tips can help!

  • Plan ahead. You may consider telling your family ahead of time not to make remarks about your eating disorder.
  • Determine your reactions ahead of time. If someone makes comments about your weight or eating habits, you can have a remark ready.
  • Eat regularly ahead of time and strive for consistency with portions. Deprivation can cause bingeing.
  • Only attend what you can handle. Decline invitations that would make you feel too uncomfortable or overwhelmed.
  • Take part in activities. It can help distract you from food worries.
  • Offer to bring a dish. If you are unsure of what may be offered, you know you’ll have something you can eat.
  • Find a support partner you can confide in, someone who understands your eating disorder and that you can talk with to avoid emotional eating or restricting.
  • Talk with a therapist. A professional who understands and works specifically with eating disorders can address your concerns and help you cope more effectively during times like these.
  • Don’t focus on mistakes. If you feel too full or have experienced a binge, don’t beat yourself up. Move on and don’t catastrophize the situation.
  • Strive to be mindful of the tastes, textures and amounts of food you are eating.
  • Be gentle with yourself and others. Judging yourself or others harshly can sometimes trigger or lead to eating disordered behaviors.