Eating Disorders

Tips for Enjoying the Holidays while in Recovery


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I can’t tell you how many times my parents told me to “take a break” from the eating disorder for a day, to be normal for a day.  I remember yearning for the ability to do this, to no avail.  I don’t think that I have to tell you that it doesn’t work that way.If we can’t leave the eating disorder behind for a day, what can we do?

We can be strong, and enjoy ourselves despite the eating disorder thoughts.

The thoughts will be there, we know that; however, by not giving in to these thoughts, we can truly enjoy the holiday, and get stronger in the process.  The more we do this, the easier it will become.

That’s all well and good, but knowing this doesn’t make it any easier.  What can we do to make it through the holidays, recognize our ED thoughts, and not let them dictate our actions?

Here are a few practical tips I have found very helpful, and I hope you do as well:

Affirmations have a lot of power:

Tell yourself what you know is true.  These few have helped me, and I know there are a lot more as well!

  • I need and deserve this food.  It will nourish me.
  • Today isn’t about the food, it is about enjoying family.
  • Yes I am around different people, but it is just like any other meal.
  • I can be present and enjoy this moment.

Talk to your family:

let them know it is difficult, and let them help you through it.  You don’t have to tell everyone, maybe just your parents, or brother or sister.  I know from experience they want to help you, but they don’t know how unless you tell them – Maybe having them help you portion your food, or simply eating with you, whatever will help you.


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Listen to your healthy voice:

I know the eating disorder voice is very strong when it tells you to avoid certain foods, or have more of that, but no matter how strong the ED voice is, your healthy voice is in there as well.  Try to hear that healthy voice and follow it.  It will be quiet, and it isn’t easy, but you can do it!

Expect the unexpected:

There will very likely be foods that you don’t normally eat on a daily basis, or that you don’t know exactly how they fit into your meal plan.  This doesn’t mean these foods are bad or that they don’t have a place in your meal plan!  Don’t limit yourself to what you know, explore and remember this is just one day of many, and trying one thing can’t hurt you.

Don’t let comments get to you:

During recovery I had a lot of family gatherings when I heard comments about my weight or eating, be it “You’ve gained weight!” or “You look great!” or anything of that nature.  These comments can be very hard to deal with, I know they were for me, and sometimes still are.  I find it is very helpful to remind myself where they are coming from.  They haven’t seen me in months, and I have indeed gained weight, and they are happy to see that! Also realize they don’t understand how a seemingly positive comment such as “You look so healthy!” could be taken negatively.  It could be helpful to tell them these comments are hurtful and/or triggering. And remind yourself their comments don’t need to change what you know to be true.

Don’t be too hard on yourself:

If things don’t go as planned, that doesn’t mean you failed.  Even if it seems the ED voice won, you have fought it and weakened it, and that is a victory in and of itself.  Things don’t change overnight.  Don’t let your perceived failures ruin all the positive aspects of your day!  You can still enjoy your family, friends, and loved ones.

So I challenge you to truly enjoy your holiday season, no matter where you are in your recovery.

You will probably hear the eating disorder thoughts, but you have the power to hear these voices, disregard them, and enjoy your holiday despite them. You deserve to enjoy holidays and all that comes with them, not just survive them!

You deserve to enjoy the love of your family and friends, the meaning behind the holiday, the traditions, and everything in between. and I hope that some of these tips help you to combat the ED voice and let the joy of the holidays shine through.

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Scott hopes to turn the negativity of his Anorexia into something positive by supporting other men and women who struggle with eating disorders in any way he can. He also hopes to raise awareness of eating disorders in men in order to get better treatment. His message is simple: recovery is possible, and you can achieve it. Some of his hobbies are coffee, cars, and bicycle racing. He is currently studying mechanical engineering and German.

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