No one would think to ask a recovering alcoholic to an even focused exclusively on drinking. Yet many people who are recovery from – of even still struggling with – eating disorders are expected to attend Thanksgiving dinner and enjoy a holiday centered on food.
While you probably can't avoid the Thanksgiving meal (or other food-centric holiday events) all together, shifting your perspective can help you get through the day.
Here are some tips:
1. Don’t focus on body image.Maybe your cousin is looking great after hitting the gym all summer, or your Auntie has lost a significant among of weight since last year. But no matter if they're good or bad, comments about weight should be avoided all together. Instead, praise loved one's new healthier lifestyle, and consider giving compliments such as: “You look strong and happy”.
2. Don’t watch what others eat.If someone wants to eat more or less than you during the holidays, do not make that the focus of your concern. If you focus on what you are eating, you can set a healthy example. If you tell others to eat more or less, you are adding pressure to those who are already struggling with eating issues.
3. Accept that Thanksgiving is a day of eating.If you have eating issues, then understand that Thanksgiving may be the most difficult day of the year for you. Know that this day is a challenge for you and all the people around the world who struggle with eating disorders. You are not alone.
4. Create your own bubble of comfort.Set your own eating boundaries and do not allow the comments or expectations of others to change what is comfortable for you. If you give yourself the freedom to say “no” to others, and don't let yourself be pushed you out of your comfort zone.
5. Change the focus.Instead of letting the conversation center on how delicious the turkey is, or the array of pie options for desert, focus on catching up with friends or family who you may only see once a year. Ask your loved ones what they are thankful for, and focus on these positive interactions.
6. Allow yourself to be human. Allow yourself the freedom to have some stress and not react perfectly, especially during the most difficult holiday for people with eating issues.
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