Written by Angela Staples, MS, RDN, LD

The first snowfall is here and the holidays are fast approaching. While this is an exciting time for many, it can be difficult for those struggling with an eating disorder. Holidays are filled with family, food and traditions. Try to stay ahead of the curve and plan for a successful experience. Here are some tips that may help you prepare for these days:

Maintain a mindful attitude

Lead with a positive mindset and hope to achieve personal goals for the event. It may help to set an intention for the day. This could help guide your decisions and choices. Stay present and engaged, and remember, people enjoy your company!

Go in with a game plan

Do not expect the worst, however, be prepared for challenges. Plan how long you might stay. Gravitate towards those family members or friends you feel most connected to. Not all events may go according to how they were planned. Example: the turkey might take an hour longer than originally expected, but stay flexible. Spend time visualizing or writing down your food plan, incorporate desserts and fluids. Bring snacks or a traditional dish to add if you are not sure something specific will be available. It might make sense to combine a snack and meal together or eat a snack while waiting for a meal to finish cooking. Always start the day off with a breakfast! Try not to restrict in preparation for what is up ahead that day. Lastly, bring a resource list or have at least 3 available to use if needed.

Spend the holiday without your eating disorder

Leave your eating disorder behind! Do not weigh yourself, read labels or count calories these days. Spend time in the present moment. Be mindful of those around you and the quality time you are experiencing.

Schedule ME time

All the traditions and family time could become overwhelming. Don’t forget to take a break and step outside for fresh air, take the dog for a walk, call a friend, play a game, read the newspaper, watch a humorous show, etc. Taking a well deserved break during the holiday events may actually help you feel re-energized and grounded.

Start new traditions that are in line with your recovery goals this year. Enjoy holiday events with friends and family to the fullest. Stay mindful and soak in all the holiday blessings. Take time to reflect on your progress and all that is ahead on your journey.

May your holidays be filled with laughter, love and cheer!