Thanksgiving Day Tips for People with Eating Disorders

Thanksgiving can be hard for everyone.

It's a lot of people, a lot of preparation and clean up, and of course there's all manner good old f-ed up family dynamics. But this food focused day can be exceptionally hard for people with eating disorders to navigate. Here's a few quick tips to help you deal with an eating disorder during the holidays.  

  1. Keep your routine as normal as possible. Don't restrict or skip meals before dinner. Doing that may make it feel more safe, but it actually sets you up to be more anxious, less present, and more likely to struggle with diner if you go into the meal super hungry.
  2. Don't spend extra time around the food. Limit time in prep and clean-up of food. Being around the food more than necessary may keep you focused on food and more likely to be anxious, calorie counting, or triggered to binge. Instead, see if you can spend time with friends and family outside the kitchen. When possible, before and after the meal, distract, distract, distract.
  3. Don't drink much, if at all. That will make staying centered and grounded and connected more difficult.
  4. Remember that it's just one meal. Regardless of culture and family messages, thanksgiving doesn't have to be a gluttonous free for all. It's just a meal. No need to eat past fullness. That being said, it's just one meal. Even if you eat more than you usually do, you may feel uncomfortable and at the same time you're safe. Your anxiety and fullness will pass. One meal doesn't make or break your life or your body. Usually bodies are far more flexible and forgiving with food than your eating disorder mind is.
  5. Try to redirect your focus from food to gratitude and family. Food doesn't have to be the centerpiece of your day. The day originated as a way to celebrate friends and family and give thanks. Don't let your anxiety and eating disorder rob you of that. The meal can be challenging AND you can still feel and focus on gratitude. Be grateful that you have a meal to attend, that you are brave for showing up, that you have values you are moving towards (connection, family, love, humor, integrity, etc.) that are more important than your eating disorder.

If you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder, we are here to help. Contact us to schedule a consult.