Thanksgiving for most is a time where families come together and enjoy each other’s company while surrounded by an abundance of food. Most people don’t think about what that holiday is like for those who struggle with eating disorders. For those who have an eating disorder, Thanksgiving can be a nightmare, filled with anxiety. There are ways to get through this holiday, though!
First, make a plan. You know Thanksgiving is coming up, so one way to ease the anxiety of this holiday could be letting those closest to you know about your anxiety. Let them help you by making sure there will be foods that you will be able to choose from. Some people with eating disorders can be picky, and there’s nothing worse than already struggling with food if there aren’t any options you like. If you haven’t told your family about your struggles, and have a therapist or dietician, let them know about your anxiety and let them help you come up with a game plan for the holiday.
Second, don’t talk about dieting. As most people know, diets are really unhealthy. If people want to be healthy, then they should hire a dietician, not follow the latest weight loss trend society is pushing. When Thanksgiving comes around, people will enjoy the food, but there most likely will be conversations about the food and how people will have to “make up” for it. Don’t engage in those conversations where it will fuel the eating disorder. Instead, if feeling brave, challenge the person with the knowledge you have from your own treatment (if you’ve been to treatment). “Everything is healthy in balance” is the motto of some treatment centers, and it’s true! There are going to be days where people might eat more, and days where they might eat less. That’s okay as long as they are following their hunger cues. So, don’t let diet talk ruin your Thanksgiving meal. Remember to try to follow your hunger cues and your meal plan to the best of your ability. And most importantly, there are no “bad” foods! Everything in moderation is fine. So, enjoy your favorite food this holiday, and if you’re up for it, you can challenge yourself by having dessert. If not, that’s also completely fine. Just do what is right for you and your body.
Third, do not skip meals prior or after Thanksgiving. The thought of skipping a meal in anticipation of the amount of food that will be offered can be tempting, but that will only be hurting you more in the long run. Skipping meals will hinder your progress and be more damaging to your body. Given that this holiday is most likely anxiety provoking, try having meals that you feel most comfortable and safe with the day before Thanksgiving. Talk with your dietician or therapist about potential “ED” thoughts that might pop up and tell you to skip, binge, or overeat. Let them help you come up with some great meals that follow your plan that is easier for you for the day prior, the day of, and the day after Thanksgiving. Also, another potential option is to have an accountability partner. Someone who you can text, reach out to, if you are having eating disorder thoughts and urges in the moment, that way they can help you through that so you can stay on track with your meal plan.
Fourth, be compassionate. Thanksgiving is extremely hard, and that is okay! Allow yourself to acknowledge the struggle, but don’t dwell on it. Take care of yourself. Remember all the coping skills you’ve learned, and use them! Whether it’s drawing that relaxes you, knitting, writing, just do it! Maybe even write an angry letter to “ED” and telling him to leave you alone. Whatever works for you.
Lastly, remember to enjoy the people. Hopefully, there will be people at your Thanksgiving dinner that you’re happy to be seeing or spending time with, so don’t let ED get in the way of your time with them. Remember Thanksgiving is supposed to be about being thankful, so be thankful for the time you have with the people at that dinner table.
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