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.

5 Keys to Holidays with an Eating Disorder

As the holiday season approaches, consider these 5 keys to surviving holidays with an eating disorder. The holidays alone can feel overwhelming, but that stress is magnified when you’re struggling with an eating disorder. These 5 keys, in reverse order of importance, will make navigating the season more enjoyable and manageable.

1) Shift your focus.

What you FOCUS on, you FEEL. Shift your focus away from the eating disorder and towards something that will make you feel good.


Music? Maybe a particular person or tradition? If nothing’s got you super revved up about Thanksgiving, schedule a call with a good friend that day or take a 15 minute breather to do some light stretches or breath work during the festivities. Don’t feel bad about taking a few minutes to yourself to get your head in the right place.


2) Change your physiology.

Before you host or go to the host’s home, shift your state, your physiology. This can be done in a number of ways, but the idea is to get OUT of your head.


The best way to stop overthinking, is to MOVE your body. Try singing your favorite song, dancing, a few jumping jacks or some breath work. And, do this right before you leave – you will feel energized and refreshed.


3) EAT.

Don’t wait to eat until it’s time for the festivities. A secret I share with clients (one many have had success with) is to eat a small meal before you go. Then, the food that’s out will not seem so overwhelming and you won’t feel so frazzled. Before the holiday, think about a filling snack you might prepare and eat before hand.


Also, dress for comfort and for YOU. Not for anyone else. There’s nothing worse than tugging at your clothes or constantly adjusting your top. Find something that allows you to move and easily focus on Key #4.


holidays with an eating disorder4) Serve others.

Holidays can feel overwhelming for anyone, but holidays with an eating disorder is magnified. As a result, you feel like no one is sensitive to your needs and with a major focus on food, you feel triggered often and like people are judging you. Prepare in advance by giving your loved ones tips on how to best support you. Consider sending them this: how to support loved ones with eating disorders.


Similar to Key #2, get out of your head by doing. Help out in any way you can. Do the dishes or clean up. Serve others and ask how they are doing. Try being genuinely curious  – everyone has something they’re struggling with or something they want to open up about. Be there and be present.


5) Gratitude.

The most important key of all to holidays with an eating disorder is gratitude. What can you choose to be grateful for?


Gratitude is an antidote for suffering. For example, when you’re feeling down or like no one understands, quickly jot down three things you’re grateful for in that moment. It could be as simple as having a roof over your head or having a place to go during the holidays. Start to notice what shifts for you because there is actual science to back up a gratitude practice!


The holidays are a special time to be around loved ones. Surviving the holidays with an eating disorder shouldn’t be the goal; enjoying the holidays is what you seek. Find opportunities to feel joy and seek gratitude.

For more tips on holidays with an eating disorder, read this one full of helpful tips you can implement right away!