Want to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle throughout the holiday season? This advice is geared towards those who are in recovery from an eating disorder, but also helpful for anyone during this crazy, food-filled time:
Start Some Holiday Traditions
Make this holiday more about experiences than food. Make some homemade ornaments with your family, sing carols, or volunteer together. You can bring fun projects to family gatherings, or even plan craft-making parties for you and your friends. Be creative!
Be Smart about Food Gifts
If you find yourself with an abundance of treats from family, friends, and coworkers, be honest with yourself about what you need to do in order to take care of yourself: If you have the tendency to binge on those foods, don’t feel bad about giving them to a neighbor, donating them to a food pantry, or bringing them to work and leaving them in a staff lounge. If you’re comfortable keeping the food in your freezer, consider packaging it up into individual portions that you can take out every once in awhile to enjoy in moderation. Don’t feel bad about eating a cookie (or piece of cake or pie, etc.) or two; remember that a healthy diet is not about deprivation!
If you’re feeling really nervous about an upcoming holiday party, it’s okay to call the host and ask them what kind of food they’ll be serving and if they’ll need any help preparing things. The key is to remember to do it in a way that’s polite and lets them know you’re willing to help, rather than just being nosy. Offer to cook up a healthy dish or two yourself that you’ll feel comfortable eating while there.
Have Your Support Available
Make sure there’s someone you can talk to at parties if you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious. If there won’t be a friend or family member with you at a holiday gathering, make sure there’s someone who will be available to take calls if you need to talk.
Focus on Positive Nutrition
At parties, rather than looking around at all of the goodies you think you “shouldn’t” have, seek out the food that is good fuel for your body. Find the mixed nuts, brightly-colored vegetables, healthy proteins, and other good choices. Fill your plate with them and think about how great they’ll make your body and mind feel!
Don’t Give Up if Your Diet isn’t Perfect
You’re not alone if you don’t always eat exactly how you’d like, and especially at this time of the year. Don’t turn one little slipup (or a bad day, or couple of days, or whatever) into an excuse to just keep going back to old negative habits. After each slip, just keep following your meal plan the same way you would have otherwise—no skipping meals, restricting, bingeing, etc.!
Befriend Your Body
Remember that your body is intelligent and that as long as you do your best to stay balanced, your body will stay at its natural “set point” (the weight where you feel the healthiest and most energetic). A “bad” day nutrition-wise won’t affect your body all that much in the long run.
Enjoy Your Company
When you’re at a party, remember the real reason you’re there. Get involved in a conversation!
A healthy dose of exercise can do wonders for an array of emotions. If you’re depressed, the endorphins that are released during exercise can lift your mood in a matter of minutes. It can also help you get rid of anxious feelings, clear your head, or get a nice little burst of energy whenever you need it throughout the day.
Plan for about 2-3 “activity breaks” each day, even (and especially!) when things get busy. Your body will thank you!
Keep a Healthy Mindset
As always, remember the real reason for the holidays: Your spiritual beliefs, friends and family, and all of the wonderful memories and experiences that can be had.
This can be a stressful time for anyone, whether they’ve had an eating disorder or not. Cut yourself some slack if you have some tough moments, and remember to keep taking some time for yourself every day.