The holiday season is upon us, this time of the year can be joyful, as we spend time with family members and loved ones, celebrating, cooking and eating together. However, for some, especially for those struggling with an eating disorder, the holiday season may be a difficult time because of triggers, traumatic memories, anxieties and more.

Your eating disorder doesn’t take a holiday, but you do. Here are our tips and tricks to get you through:
 Set up a safety person – Find a family member or friend that you trust and have healthy boundaries with and ask them to be your safety person. You can even prepare a code word for when you need support at the table. For example, here at The Bella Vita, we use the word “STAT” which stands for “Stop Talking About That” so if your uncle makes a comment that makes you feel uncomfortable, you have a signal for support.  If your safety person can’t make it to the table, then have their on speed dial! Support is just a phone call away.

Bring your own dish…or don’t! Really think about what’s in the best interest for your recovery…You can bring your own food or take this opportunity to challenge yourself with foods that are not in your routine.

Take a break – Taking a break is simple but effective. If you are feeling overwhelmed, try going for a walk, listening to music, or petting the nearest therapy fluffy.
Bring your toolbox – If you have tools that have helped you in the past, maybe something that you learned in treatment, bring your tools to the table. If distracting yourself during the meal is a tool that has helped you before, then try striking up a conversation with your neighbor or playing a game with your family while eating.

Set boundaries – Boundaries are different for everyone. Know your limits when it comes to your loved ones and assert yourself when you feel your boundaries are being bent (If you do not know your boundaries here is a helpful article from Psychology Today). 

Gratitude over guilt – The holiday season can be stressful and chaotic, which means that it’s easy to lose sight of the positive. To stay positive, we encourage everyone to practice gratitude! For example, keep a gratitude journal where you write a list of things you felt grateful for each day. Tell someone how much you appreciate them or write them a thank you card. Make a list of the things you like about yourself or about another person.
Invest in rest – Traveling and socializing requires a lot of energy! Rest is required! According to the CDC, teens need 8-10 hours of sleep per night and adults need 7 or more hours per night. Try going to bed an hour early…you’ll thank yourself later.

Talk back to ED – Your voice is powerful and so are you! “I can do this!” “It’s just one more hour.” These are just a couples of examples that you can say to fight the ED voice. 

If you find yourself needing more support we are always here. We have a 24/7 Intake Line  (818) 585-1775.