Because family activities, social functions and even work activities are often centered around food during the holidays, it’s no wonder that this time of year brings the greatest rates of disordered eating. Individuals with Anorexia, Bulimia or Binge Eating Disorders may find it increasingly difficult to endure the additional pressures of food associated with the holidays if they aren’t prepared. It is important to know the difficulties the holiday season may bring, so prepare to take care of yourself emotionally and physically during this time. With appropriate planning ahead of time, you can help to alleviate the stress associated with holiday eating.
It is important to remember to practice the basics of good self-care. In addition to getting enough sleep and healthy amounts of regular exercise, good nutrition is a must! Use the tips below to help meet your nutritional needs so your body can better handle the stressors of the season.
Start with a healthy breakfast. It’s been said over and over but having a well-balanced meal shortly after you wake up is essential. Try one or two servings of a high fiber cereal with fresh fruit for a burst of much needed energy. Add a source of protein like an egg or turkey bacon to help stabilize your blood sugar and increase your concentration throughout the morning.
Eat colorful meals. Be sure to include foods rich in natural color to your plate this holiday season. For example, the deep green of spinach and bright orange of carrots indicate that they are loaded with an array of vitamins, minerals and disease fighting antioxidants that can help boost your immunity and possibly alleviate depression.
Don’t forget to hydrate. In our efforts to eat healthy we often forget one essential nutrient… water! Because our bodies are made up primarily of water, it is important to drink adequate fluids and avoid the dehydrating effects of caffeine. How much water you need varies from person to person but consuming at least eight 8-ounce glasses each day is a good rule of thumb to remember.
Deck the Halls. This time of year brings together families and expectations which can be either joyous, depressing or both. Individuals can experience tremendous pressures to perform up to their family’s and their own expectations. Family gatherings can create significant tension. Some individuals may experience significant loneliness from social isolation or the loss of loved ones. We must be sensitive to the feelings of our patients at this very special time of the year.
Cookies, Sweets, Holiday Dinners and Buffets. Can you think of any time of the year that can be more threatening to an eating disorder patient? Eating disorders are all about control and the amount of food that is everywhere can be overwhelming. Meal plans and support from families, friends, and clinicians are crucial at this time of year.
Reflections on the Way We Were. Some times eating disorders can be secretive disorders. It is important for the patient and the clinician to work on bringing these secretive thoughts out into the open. Discussion of fears and stresses will help cope with this challenging time of year. Recovering individuals need to be a step ahead of the many triggers that the holiday season brings by carefully thinking through some of these issues and putting together a strong relapse prevention plan.
Choose Recovery. Choose recovery one decision at a time. You have the capacity to make life sustaining choices. What you want your life to look like in recovery can happen. Take charge of your recovery daily.
Ask for help. Remember you can’t recover alone. Stay connected with others. Broaden your base of community support. Go to a meeting. Pick up the phone.
The holidays can be hard to navigate if you don’t nurture your body, mind, heart and spirit. Enlist the help of family and friends to keep you on track and to avoid isolation, and remind yourself that all foods fit when you practice balance, variety and moderation.
Give yourself a gift this season. The gift of healthy living.
Excerpts from 2012 ANAD Newsletter
Blessed Thanksgiving from all of us at Samaritan Counseling Center!!!!