Eating Disorder Holiday Survival – 5 Tips

eating disorder holiday survival guide



Battling an eating disorder during the holidays makes recovery extra challenging. Thanksgiving and other holidays revolve around food which can be a major trigger if you’re in recovery.


Here’s the thing: you can set yourself up for success at the holidays by following this guide.  YOU decide where you give your energy and attention this holiday season. Research tells us that where you give your energy and time, you will feel in abundance. Here are five eating disorder holiday tips to maintain your recovery.




Your morning routine the day of a holiday is crucial! First, you 100% have control over your morning routine. I suggest starting your day with a short meditation on body image or body nourishment. Mentally rehearse the holiday using these meditations so you’re not winging it!


Meditating first thing in the morning is shown to improve depression and anxiety. This is when your mind is the MOST clear and the stress of the day hasn’t yet crept in.


If meditating isn’t your jam, then write 10 gratitudes. Make these SMALL things, so your brain is primed to look for what’s going RIGHT later on instead of what’s going WRONG.

body image meditation



Before you show up for the holiday gathering, call your loved ones or whomever you’ll be spending the day with. Tell them what’s okay to talk about and what you’d prefer they don’t talk about. If you’re eating with family and want them to know the DOs and DONTs of how to support you, please have them read this.


Set boundaries if you need to. Tell them what time you’ll be arriving and leaving so as not to surprise them. Share that you might get up during the meal to go take some deep breaths. Have whatever conversations you can have in advance. This way, you’ve said everything that needs to be said before every getting there.




You do not want to show up to Thanksgiving or any other holiday gathering hungry! Yes I know you might be eating in 30 minutes or an hour, but still eat a snack in advance of going.


I also suggest taking five deep breaths in and out through your nose before walking inside. This allows you to ground and center before walking in.




Of all the eating disorder holiday tips, this is my favorite and most powerful. To minimize anxiety, choose an intention for the day. Decide where to put your focus. For example, on one Thanksgiving, my sister had just given birth to a baby boy a couple months ago. I asked her if I could take care of him during the day – feed him, change him and hold him. Giving my energy to something outside of myself was magical.


Whether your intention is to connect with a specific person or be helpful, knowing your intention is KEY.




Finally, have a plan for when Thanksgiving is ‘over’. This is absolutely crucial to surviving holidays with an eating disorder. Ask a friend if you can stay overnight or invite a family member to go on a walk or play a game with you. Have hot tea or plan to take a bath. Whatever it is, write out a PLAN for what happens when the meal is over. This is when ED thoughts are the loudest. You will (hopefully) be full after meal time (if you anticipate this, you might read: 3 Tips to Sitting With Fullness) and it’s important not to leave plans up to chance.

Eating disorder Holiday Tips

I hope these five eating disorder holiday tips give some hope for Thanksgiving and beyond. Come up with a game plan before the holidays, before a triggering event or a particular day you have anxiety over. Planning for it – before it starts and after it is over – can provide certainty, clarity and lead to not only surviving holidays with an eating disorder, but also enjoying the holidays.

Do These 3 Things Everyday If You Struggle With Food

Journal about your struggle with food

Struggle with food and your body? For years, I tried to white knuckle my way through recovery. I forced myself to do things I was supposed to. It was miserable.



Everyday I tried to rely on willpower alone to stop having behaviors. Spoiler! It didn’t work.



Much more effective is pull motivation. This means you have something greater pulling you through recovery. No white knuckling. No force.



In this case, you actually enjoy the things you do everyday. And you can see your progress towards freedom.



These are the THREE things I did in recovery to curb my struggle with food. I still do many of them today, years after I found freedom!



3 Things To Reduce Your Food Struggle



Struggle with Food in grocery store



1) Start a gratitude practice



Start small here. Everyday write down five things you are grateful for. THAT’S IT! They should be little gratitudes. Like your cup of coffee or the weather. This trains your brain to seek blessings throughout your day.



The eating disorder wants you to take a disordered view of the world. ED wants you to believe that the world is against you. With a gratitude practice, you shift the lens you see the world through.



You start to see people supporting you and loving you. You’ll see the many blessings in your life. Finally, you might start to see all the ways you are already good enough.



I ask client to text me their 5 gratitudes everyday. You can text them to a friend, write them in a journal or email them to yourself! As long as you get them from your head to paper or a device!



2) Have a bedtime routine



Sleep is the most important factor in finding freedom from the eating disorder. Without it, you can’t think clearly and you make decisions when you’re less than 100%.


Sleep is so important when recovering from an eating disorder


When you have a good night’s sleep, your hunger cues are more pronounced and accurate. This helps reduce your struggle with food. Additionally, your mood is more stable. I’m sure I don’t need to convince you of this! But the question is then – how do I sleep better?



There’s so much information on this. But mostly you need a bedtime routine. Similar to that of a child.



My bedtime routine is: two hours before bed, I put on my blue light glasses. I dim the lights in the house. Next, I make myself some sleepy time tea. I read a book or try to do something off of a screen (I definitely don’t avoid screens every night, but I try!).



Then I say a prayer with my husband, take a bath, get into my jammies and get ready for bed.



Finally, I listen to the Calm App as it tells me a bedtime story. There’s no wrong here, just try to stay consistent with whatever you choose!



3) Seek Connection



The eating disorder wants to isolate, to be alone. Freedom requires that you step out of the secrecy. Everyday, find a way to connect with someone.



It could be as simple as texting or a phone call. Better yet, is to have plans with someone you care about. A phone date, a walk, or grab coffee. You don’t necessarily have to talk about the eating disorder!



Just getting out of the house and in the company of others is a great first step!





I’m trying to put out more consistent content for you. Part of why I started OutshiningED is to bring you tremendous value. If there’s a topic you’d like me to cover, please reach out and tell me here!



Also, did you know I have a free guide on how to stop binge and emotional eating? If you struggle with food, make sure you grab that here!