Skip to main content

How to cope with an eating disorder at Christmas

By December 8, 2023December 20th, 2023Inspiration and Insights

For many, the Christmas season may be a happy time of year because of the festive mood and family get-togethers. But for those who are struggling with an eating disorder, the idea of getting through the Christmas festivities could cause further stress and difficulties. Having individuals around who aren’t typically present can cause anxiety about what they’ll think. This may increase worry about eating at an already tough time. “The abundance of food, elaborate meals, and emphasis on indulgence can heighten anxiety and feelings of guilt or shame,” Dr. Bar says. These feelings of guilt and shame can add to social isolation, too, especially when family dynamics come into play.

To make sure that this time is healthier and more tranquil, it’s critical to approach it with self-compassion, support, and useful methods. We’ll look at coping mechanisms for eating disorders throughout the Christmas season in this blog.

1. Prioritise Self-Care:

  • Acknowledge that your health comes first. Set aside time for comforting and relaxing self-care activities.
  • Take part in stress-reduction and emotional awareness exercises like writing, reading, or mindfulness training.

2. Communicate Openly:

  • Talk to a friend, family member, or therapist about your thoughts and worries if you can. Support and understanding are fostered via open communication.
  • Share with your loved ones the details of your triggers and the significance of maintaining an inclusive and happy environment during holiday get-togethers.

3. Set Realistic Expectations:

  • Set reasonable goals for yourself this Christmas season. Recognise that it’s acceptable to put your mental health above unattainable expectations or social demands.
  • Pay attention to what really counts: the joy of spending time with close friends and family and making treasured memories.

4. Plan Ahead:

  • To help reduce anxiety related to eating, schedule your meals and snacks in advance. A methodical approach might give one a feeling of predictability and control.
  • Think about informing the host ahead of time about any dietary requirements or preferences to make sure there are alternatives that suit your comfort level.

5. Create a Support System:

  • Find a network of people who can help you and who are aware of your path. Friends, relatives, or people in a support group might be examples of this.
  • Create a “buddy system” with a person you can trust who will be there to support and encourage you through trying times.

6. Focus on Non-Food Activities:

  • Direct holiday festivities away from food-related pursuits and towards other pursuits. Take part in holiday customs such as decorating, seeing films, or playing video games to have fun experiences that do not revolve around eating.
  • Take up activities or artistic endeavours that make you happy and fulfilled to help divert your focus from concerns associated with eating.

7. Practice Mindful Eating:

  • Adopt mindful eating practices to promote a more positive connection with food. During meals, pay attention to indications of hunger and fullness, enjoy every bite, and keep yourself from becoming distracted.
  • Give in to the indulgence of seasonal sweets in moderation and try not to obsess about the amount of food consumed.

8. Be Kind to Yourself:

  • Keep in mind that getting better is a process, and things might not always go as planned. Recognise the steps you’ve taken towards healing and treat yourself with kindness and patience.
  • If you have setbacks, view them as chances for improvement and education rather than as justifications for condemnation of yourself.

Having an eating disorder over the holidays calls for a combination of self-awareness, support, and doable tactics. You may design a holiday experience that supports your recovery objectives by putting your health first, being transparent with others, and engaging in mindful activities. Remind yourself that you are not alone and that asking for help is a brave step towards a better, healthier Christmas season.

Other useful resources