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Eating Disorders and the Holidays: Stick to Your Recovery Plan

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — November 26, 2019 — 2 min read
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, the holidays can be a difficult time of year.

“Remember to take it one day at a time,” said Amy Mock, LPC, LPCS, CEDS, a certified eating disorder specialist and the Medical Services Liaison for Cardinal Innovations Healthcare. “The holidays will come and go, try to stay present in the moment and find gratitude when you can, strengths where you least expect them, and joyfulness in the spirit of the season. You are worth it.”

According to Mental Health America, 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life. These can include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or other specified feeding or eating disorders (OSFED).

The treatment for eating disorders involves psychological therapy, nutrition education, medical monitoring and sometimes medication. Recovery also usually involves setting routines for meals. Committing to your recovery program and routines and planning ahead can help you get through the holidays.

The following tips may also help:
  • Talk to your therapist about potential stressors and create strategies to work through them
  • Speak to the host about the menu and schedule for an event so you know what to expect
  • Have your therapist talk to the host about how to be sensitive to your eating disorder
  • Choose a person to support you if you start struggling
  • You can always leave an event that becomes too stressful; create an exit plan
  • Avoid committing to too many events
  • Make your recovery your priority; if an event has triggered your disorder in the past, skip it
  • Give yourself time to relax during the hustle and bustle of the holidays
If you have a loved one who has an eating disorder, remember that overcoming an eating disorder is difficult for the person facing it as well as their loved ones. Here are a few tips for supporting your loved one during the holidays:
  • Offer your support, asking how you can help reduce holiday stressors
  • Be respectful of the person’s recovery process
  • Keep the menu simple
  • Unless a treatment team has told you to, don’t monitor your loved one’s food choices; this can cause anxiety

Resources and Support

Eating Disorders Resource Centers
National Eating Disorders Association
National Alliance on Mental Illness

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Eating disorders are not a lifestyle choice. They're treatable & it's important to get help.

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