1. If you are struggling with one of the eating disorders then set up extra support options during the season. This will allow you to call or visit someone when you are tempted to give in or you are struggling to cope with negative thoughts or emotions. Reach for the phone instead of the food and give your support person a call.
2. Ask someone that you trust to act as a reality check for you during the holidays when it comes to food. This individual can help prepare a plate for you, recommend whether your portion sizes are correct, and even help you determine when you have had enough or if your food intake is not sufficient.
3. People who struggle with eating disorders need to place a focus on time spent together. Plan an event where the food items offered are less important than the activities and events scheduled. Invite others to an evening of holiday games and cheer, with non alcoholic beverages and healthy nibbles for them to snack on.
4. Make sure that you give yourself plenty of down time during the holidays. This time of year can mean many invitations and events to attend, leaving you short on time that you need to relax and unwind. Learn to say no and politely decline invitations that are not a priority for you. When you are tired or stressed you are more likely to give in to unhealthy eating patterns so avoid these factors at all costs.
1. Dealing with eating disorders during this season can be hard, but it will be easier if you eat regularly and plan ahead when you will be attending social events. It is a mistake to skip meals or to eat in a pattern that is not reasonable because you may have indulged before.
2. Carefully choose the events that you attend during the holidays. Before you go eat something so that you do not arrive famished. This will help you stick to the plan and the foods that are acceptable and help you avoid overeating or being tempted in other ways. It is okay to turn down invitations if you feel the events pose a risk to your recovery and well being.
3. Talk about any questions or anxieties that you have concerning eating disorders with your treatment team and your support group ahead of time. These individuals may be able to help you get through the season without any additional problems, and keep you on track with your treatment plan.
4. Before you go anywhere for the holidays know what to expect and make sure that there are no unpleasant surprises. If you have a binge eating disorder then going to a cookie swap party may be a bad idea and it may be better to decline this invitation so that you are not tempted to give in.
5. Focus on fun instead of food. Spending time with family and friends can help you enjoy the season without the focus always being on what is served and what you eat. Bring along a few healthy snacks to nibble on during the event. If anyone asks simply tell them you are currently following a special diet that your doctor recommended.
The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, with celebrations and fun parties to commemorate this time of year. For some with mental illness nothing could be further from the truth and the holidays may be an agonizing time that offers little joy or happiness. These individuals want to be happy and share in the festivities but they are not able for a variety of reasons. The Christmas season can be a time of loneliness and depression for individuals who have one or more mental disorders, and this can make their condition worse instead of bring joy and peace. A common misconception is that these individuals should simply snap out of it but this is not actually possible. Mental illness is as real as physical illness and disease. You wouldn’t tell someone with pneumonia to simply suck it up and get better and the same goes for any mental disorder.
If you or someone you love suffers from mental illness there are some things you can do to make the holidays better this year. Don’t skip any treatment sessions if you are already in treatment. If you are not receiving treatment for mental health problems then now is the time to get started on it. There is treatment available which can help you take your life back. If a loved one struggles with a mental disorder offer support. Go with them to therapy, and let them know that you are there is they need anything at all. Don’t wait until symptoms worsen or the mental illness spirals out of control.