8 Ways to Survive the Holidays with an Eating Disorder

I originally composed this post for a different website, but due to the immense amount of articles for the Holidays they received, they weren’t able to run it (insert sad face here).

Not sure what to do with it, and hating to see it go to waste for those who might benefit from it, today I decided I would share it on my blog.

For those who know me, I am pretty open about my previous struggle with food and an eating disorder. I have composed two articles on MindBodyGreen (here and here) on the topic of eating disorders and eating disorder recovery. It’s a topic near and dear to my heart.

Whether you struggle with eating yourself, or know someone who does, this post is for you.

8 Ways to Survive the Holidays (with an Eating Disorder)

Oh the holidays. The combination of higher spending, families coming together (for better or for worse!), packed schedules, and traveling can make for a stressful holiday season. Even more so if you are struggling with an eating disorder (or just food in general).

The holiday season tends to be focused around eating and drinking (often times to excess!), which can invoke anxiety among those of us who struggle with food.

If you are one of these people, first off, know that you are not alone. There are millions of people in the U.S. alone that struggle with eating disorders.

Although I consider myself having been recovered for 9 years from an eating disorder, this Thanksgiving was the first holiday where I have not had intense anxiety before, during, or after the day itself. I was able to enjoy the holiday with my family, eating until I was satisfied, without over analyzing my choices or stuffing myself to the point of pain.

How did I get to this point? A long road of counseling, self-awareness, yoga, mindfulness, and self-love. However, it wasn’t always that easy for me.

Here are my 8 Tips for those struggling this Holiday season:

1. Don’t starve yourself the day of (or days leading up to) a holiday meal or party.

You will only end up feeling deprived come time to eat, and will likely eat way more than you originally intended to.

2. Know your options.

When you arrive at a get-together or party, survey what’s offered. Decide right away what you will be tasting, and what you won’t be. Oftentimes there are too many options to try everything, and a lot of times when you do, you feel overly full (which can then initiate anxiety associated with your disorder). Pick and choose what you really want and stick to your decision.

3. Work out.

A short workout (HIIT workouts are my fav!) before heading to a gathering centered around food can alleviate anxiety. Even a brisk walk outdoors can be enough to calm and center you.

4. Eat slowly, savoring each bite.

This way you will be able to tell when you are full. As soon as the food begins to lose its flavor and your belly feels full, stop. There will always be enough food to have a second helping later. Plus, then you won’t be too full to enjoy dessert!

5. Have a drink, but not too many.

Too much alcohol contributes to lower inhibitions, which can be a problem if you already have a hard time controlling how much you eat. There have been a lot of times when I’ve drank too much (I’m talking college now) and uncontrollably binged on late night food (usually in the form of pizza). Know your limit, and savor your glass of wine or specialty cocktail.

6. Focus on the real reason for gathering: family and friends.

It can be easy to forgot what the most important things are during the holiday season (and no its not food, drinks, or even gifts). When you stay present in the moment enjoying the company of your loved ones, sharing in a few laughs, and reliving memories, you take your mind off of all the food, and eventually, your disorder.

7. Take one day/event at a time.

Don’t make one day of too much food or drink derail you for days (or weeks!) afterwards. Give yourself that day to eat, drink and be merry, and then forget about it. It’s not worth the anxiety, stress, or negative impacts on your recovery.

8. Be nice to yourself!

There is more to you than your physical appearance, how much or how little you eat, or your disorder. You are a strong, lovable human being that deserves to enjoy the holidays as much as anyone.

There is no easy way to get through the holidays if you suffer from an eating disorder. However, holidays do get easier over time. If you have any of your own tips – please share them below, I love hearing from you.

8 Ways to Survive the Holidays

Wishing a very Merry Christmas to all my friends, family, and readers. Here’s to hoping yours is filled with peace, love, and joy.

Until next time….



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