How to Get Through Holidays with Anorexia?

By February 5, 2013

This is my first Holiday Season in recovery from my Anorexia. I’m worried sick about it. It’s hard to deal with days that focus so much around food and overeating. Any ideas on how to get through the holidays with anorexia? – Bethany

Dear Bethany. 

First, congratulations on choosing recovery.  The holidays are tough for many people whether struggling with eating disorders or not.  The advice I like to give is to prepare for the worst on the one hand and stay positive on the other hand. 

What that means is to think through all of the obstacles that you can anticipate for each day of the holiday season.  It is often not the “big day” that is so tough, but often it is the day after or the day I go home or the day I get home or driving home that night, etc. 

Develop strategies on how you are going to handle the obstacles. Prepare for how you will handle comments like, “You look so good” or “You look so much healthier.” Stop trying to interpret what you think they mean and ask yourself, “What do I need to do to take care of myself through this?”

Some answers might be to stay less time somewhere, ask a support person to be with you, ask your family to say or not say certain things (“It really helps me when you say/don’t say ____.  Would you help me by saying/not saying _____ when grandmother says something about how I look?”).

Do you have a red flags list? What are the behaviors that start the slippery slope back to ED behavior. Have a plan for what you will do when any red flag comes up. Tell your support person about this list and create an action plan.

I hope this helps and that, with these tools, you are able to enjoy time with your friends and family this holiday season.

 Eileen Stellefson Myers, MPH, RD, LDN, FADA