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Navigating the Holiday Season: A Guide for Facing Eating Disorder Challenges 

By Lee Neagle MA, LPC| 3 Min Read | December 29, 2023

The holiday season at its best is a joyous time for connecting with loved ones, enjoying a break from work or school, and embracing the festive spirit, but this season can present unique challenges for those struggling with eating disorders.  

Holiday gatherings frequently center around food. Discussions about weight and size, especially regarding New Year’s Resolutions, can also create added difficulties. It can be a difficult time for those struggling with eating disorders, so here’s a guide to help you navigate this potentially challenging period. 

  1. Be proactive and seek support: Find a virtual support group or create a schedule with your treatment team on how to handle certain situations. Prior to family events, communicate openly with your loved ones about your needs to ensure everyone is on the same page. Collaborate with your dietary team on a plan for managing meals and snacks during these occasions. 
  1. Establish boundaries: As an extension of being proactive, set both internal (listening) and external (talking) boundaries. Knowing your boundaries in advance of a situation will empower you to express your needs and desires respectfully and will likely also allow you to more easily let go of any unhelpful comments that may arise during gatherings. 
  1. Lean into gratitude: It can feel easy to fall into a deficiency or scarcity mindset when overwhelmed by certain holiday season triggers. Combat the urge to focus on what you don’t have, what you should have more of, or what others have by focusing on gratitude. Take moments to reflect on the positive parts of the holiday season, like seeing relatives you don’t typically get to see. Noticing the positives can help put the negatives into perspective. 
  1. Engage in value-based actions: Identify your own personal values and align your actions with them intentionally. This alignment won’t eliminate all challenges, but it does ensure that you are navigating a path that holds personal meaning to you. Acting in ways that resonate with your values promotes a sense of purpose and fulfillment. 
  1. Give yourself some grace: The holidays can be emotionally demanding and difficult, and it’s okay not to have everything figured out. None of us are perfect. Be kind to yourself—you deserve it. 

Each step you take in aligning with your values and setting boundaries is a testament to your strength and resilience. Trust in your ability to overcome hurdles on the path to recovery. If you are struggling during this time and think an eating disorder IOP or PHP might be right for you, please reach out to us at 608-879-6255. Happy Holidays from Inner Haven Wellness! 

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