Coping with an Eating Disorder at Christmas

The holiday season can add additional stress, anxiety and pressure for those struggling with an eating disorder. Whether you are personally struggling with an eating disorder or looking to support a loved one, this article will offer some tips and guidance on how to cope with an eating disorder through the festive period. 

Your go-to guide for coping with an eating disorder at Christmas:

  • Plan Ahead: If you know the holiday season is a difficult time for yourself or a loved one, plan ahead by creating a plan that includes: coping strategies that work for you, self-care, preparing for triggers, and what to do if you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious. 

  • Distractions: Take the focus away from food by focusing on all the things you love and enjoy about Christmas. Find some activities you can indulge in to help distract yourself from unwanted feelings, such as: read a book, go on a walk, watch your favourite film, or play board games. 

  • Know What’s on the Menu: Knowing what is on the menu for holiday meals will help you or a loved one know what to expect on the day and feel more in control. Think about what will help you feel comfortable by communicating your needs around portion sizes, plating your own food, who you feel most comfortable sitting next to for support, or how to stick to your normal meal plan. 

  • Be Prepared for ‘Diet Talk’: Be prepared for comments or questions surrounding ‘diet talk’ by having a strategy in place, such as pre-prepared responses to any questions that may make you feel uncomfortable. 

  • Manage Expectations: Even with all the preparation in the world, it’s not always possible to have the most ‘perfect Christmas’. If you or a loved one starts to feel out of control, think about what you can do to have a more positive reaction to the situation. This could be removing yourself from the situation, speaking to someone about how you are feeling, or practising your distraction techniques.

Christmas time can leave many people feeling alone and isolated, even if spending it with friends or family. The holidays create a lot of pressure to act ‘normal’ or please everyone which can put a strain on relationships and create feelings of anxiety or guilt. Nevertheless, with a bit of planning and preparation, you can help make the holiday season more enjoyable and less stressful for yourself and those around you!

This blog post was created with ❤️ by Moreh Jackson (Clinical Psychology)