themighty logo

4 Tips for Anyone Struggling With an Eating Disorder During the Holidays


The holidays can be a hard time in general, especially for those struggling with eating disorders. But don’t worry — I’ve got you covered!

Here are a few tips I have for the holidays for anybody struggling with an eating disorder:

1. Food. It’s what everybody is worrying about. Because holidays can be so overwhelming and the food component can leave you feeling so frazzled, it’s important to have some plans in place for when those difficult situations present themselves. Some things that have helped me include trying to take in some external cues. Is this the main meal? Is this a snack time? But I also needed to look inside myself, authentically, and ask myself: Have I eaten enough so far today? Am I truly not hungry, or is my eating disorder dictating what I am or am not eating? I know that eating regularly is important for keeping my mood steady — my therapist has said those words to me like 300 times.

2. If the world around you becomes too stimulating, take a break from it. Find a chair on the side of the room and temporarily take a break. Don’t disengage for the whole day, but give yourself a chance to reset and recharge. Sometimes things like depression or being overwhelmed by food, at least for me, would get to be so draining and I’d get so dragged down that social interaction would feel like the end of world. So take some time on the side, for yourself, until you are ready to come back to socialize.

3. Don’t leave your coping skills at home! Bring something that helps you through your day with you. Whether it’s your aromatherapy bracelet or your earphones so you can listen to that one playlist you love, bring something to help distract from what’s shaking you or something to help get you grounded again.

4. Oh, no. Triggers. They’re probably going to be there. And there have to be some ways for us to squash the ramifications of them, healthfully. If someone says something about your body or your plate, what are you going to do? What can you turn to? You’ll need a plan for this. Maybe it’s a sticky note you put in your wallet or a note you put in your phone — have something ready. You could write statements “replying to” the comments you may potentially hear, so you can handle them better. Or just write a nice, encouraging letter to yourself that you can read if the time comes where you need some extra reassurance that it’ll be OK — then you’ve got it right there, and from you. There will most likely be triggers around you, whether it’s just looking at the food or hearing someone say something you didn’t need to hear, it helps if you’re prepared.

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.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Getty image via hedgehog94