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  • Kate Ringwood, LPC

Tips for the Holidays with an Eating Disorder

The holidays can be a stressful time for many, between travel, seeing family, being constantly on the move, and difficult conversations. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, throw food on top of the typical holiday stressors and you have yourself a very overwhelming experience. Here are a few tips for the holidays with an eating disorder.


How to Respond to Comments About Your Body


There are a few things to consider when responding to comments about your body, such as your relationship to this person and the timing of the conversation. However, here are a few different ways you can approach body comments:


  1. No response/walk away: If you do not feel comfortable engaging in a conversation, you do not need to! Simply walk away and don’t look back.

  2. Set a boundary: You are worthy of setting a boundary. This may look like “I don’t engage in conversations around dieting” or “Please do not comment on my body”. No explanation needed!

  3. Sense of humor: Laugh it off with a witty joke! This may look like; “Good thing YOU don’t have to worry about my body” or “You seem really interested in my food choices today!”

  4. Educate: Information on how dieting does not work and body shaming is harmful can be an important thing for others to learn when our world is so consumed in diet culture. However, it is NOT your job.

  5. Changing the subject: Coming up with a few subject changers ahead of time can be helpful! Here are a few to get you started. “Have you watched _________ movie? It was great!” or “Let me tell you about this funny thing that happened to my dog!”


How to Respond When Grandma Says “Have some more of this!”


Between the amount of food, the fear foods, the anxiety, and the comments about food being made, it can bet extremely tough to listen to your body on the holidays. Remember to check in with yourself to identify your own hunger, fullness, and satiety. It is okay to eat the extra piece of pie. However, if that is not what your body wants, it is okay to so no.


Saying no to an elder can be difficult. Here are a few example of how to say no:

  1. “It was absolutely delicious. However, I am full.”

  2. “No thank you. I am happy to take some for later.”

  3. “I already had some and it was delicious!”

Self Care/Setting Boundaries


Make a plan. Planning in your self-care can be extremely important during the holidays when there are often people around ALL THE TIME. Try your best to stick to your meal plan and take it one meal at a time. Discuss your plan ahead of time for meals and challenge foods with your dietitian. Don’t forget to give yourself permission to eat your favorite holiday foods!

Make a plan for when you feel overwhelmed. Establish a place to go and ground yourself away from the crowd. Write down 5 different skills you can try as you work to ground yourself and process your thoughts. It is okay to take time for yourself, even when family is visiting.


How to Ask for Support From Family


Asking for help can be hard because it requires vulnerability and holding yourself accountable. If you feel comfortable with one or two members of your family that will be at the meal, it can be extremely helpful to talk to them beforehand about some difficulties you may have on Thanksgiving. This may look like asking them to sit next to you for dessert or checking your plate after you serve yourself.


The holidays with an eating disorder are not easy. You do not need to go through it alone. If you are in need of support, contact us today for a free 15-minute consultation here.

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