6 Tips for Conquering Your First Thanksgiving Meal in Eating Disorder Recovery

Two years ago, I remember struggling hard core at Thanksgiving. Last year, I walked into Thanksgiving’s arms timidly but with wonder. This year, I am ready to embrace this holiday wholeheartedly and joyfully. Here’s a list of tips for those looking to conquer the day healthily for potentially the first time in quite a while.

1. Treat it like any other meal.

People will be talking about Thanksgiving dinner as if it’s their first and last meal. However, nobody said it has to be this huge event where you stuff yourself to the brim. Eat during the day as if it’s any other day (because it really truly is just like any other day!).

2. Change the subject.

While Thanksgiving food is delicious, if you find yourself overwhelmed by all the food talk, then suggest going around the table and discussing what you are grateful for this year. Gratitude has been proven to improve mental health and strengthen relationships.

3. Have someone to lean on.

Whether it’s someone who’s physically present or someone you can step away from the table to call/text, this is potentially the most important thing to do if this is your first Thanksgiving in recovery. Having someone who you know understands will help you or can just serve as a great distraction. You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

4. Line up activities for before and after during the meal.

Write a list of things you need/want to do that day that can serve as a coping skill if you feel the anxiety starting to rise. This could include doing laundry, getting homework done, walking the dog, helping set up or clear the table or watching a television show.

5. Say affirmations.

“I can get through this meal.”

“I am thankful to be in a much better place than I was this time last year.”

“I have everything I need within me.”

“One meal will not change the course of my life.”

6. Remind yourself of what you want out of recovery.

From experience, I can say sticking with recovery for two years has made this holiday go from a nightmare to just being another day. It may be so anxiety provoking this year, but next year could feel totally different. You can do it.

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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