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5 Tips for Navigating the Holidays with an Eating Disorder

5 Tips for Navigating the Holidays with an Eating Disorder

The holidays are a challenging time for a lot of people. The stresses of the season — from complicated family dynamics to miles-long gift lists — can make it feel like a less-than-merry type of year.

If you live with an eating disorder, that’s doubly true. Because so much of the season centers around shared meals, you likely have some trepidation. Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate the season alone. 

At our Boston Neurobehavioral Associates locations throughout Massachusetts and in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, our team can help. As specialists in supporting people with eating disorders — including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa — we can work with you to develop tools to help you thrive. With the right support and resources, you can head to family dinners and work holiday parties feeling prepared. 

#1: Focus on taking care of yourself.

As you reshape your relationship with food, put your health first. Don’t let that change as the season gets busy or mealtimes get more social. Keep doing the work of nourishing your body. 

That means drinking plenty of water and getting the nutrients you need. If you know you’re going to a food-based event that won’t have much nutritional value — like a cookie swap — eat a healthy meal beforehand. 

#2: Make a plan.

In fact, if eating in front of others feels difficult, consider having a nutritious snack at home before you go. 

You also may want to make a plan for any questions you expect. If you know your eating behaviors might be noticed and commented on, have an answer ready to give. Our therapists can help you develop a polite but firm way to let the person know you aren’t open to their commentary in this area. 

#3: Enjoy your favorites.

Learning to live with an eating disorder means fostering a healthier relationship with food. Depriving yourself of your seasonal favorites only further embeds restrictive eating habits. This holiday season, let yourself savor the foods you love. 

#4: Put a support system in place.

You don’t need to go through this alone. If a friend or family member who knows your eating disorder journey will also be present at a dinner, don’t be afraid to ask them for help. That could mean accountability to stick with what you’ve been working on or just a sympathetic presence in the room.

Your therapist can also help you navigate the season. We’re open to putting more therapy appointments on the calendar whenever you could use some extra support. 

#5: Give yourself some grace.

This time of year presents challenges for a lot of people. We’re all doing our best to make it through — and that includes you. 

If your eating disorder symptoms rear their head, don’t come down hard on yourself. Remember that tomorrow is a new day. You even have a whole new year right around the corner to start fresh with a healthier relationship with food. 

If you could use some added support to get through — and thrive during — the holiday season, contact us at any of our 10 Massachusetts locations or at our Pawtucket, Rhode Island office. Call the office nearest you, or book your appointment online today.

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