Eating disorders are a difficult topic to approach, especially during the festive period, a time when food is a central element of celebrations. However, it's essential to address it head-on, particularly for those who struggle with binge eating. Here, we provide a guide on how to enjoy the Christmas season without falling prey to unhealthy eating habits.
1. Build a Support Network to Be Binge Free
One of the most effective ways to combat binge eating is to create a network of positive influences. Surrounding yourself with understanding and supportive friends and family can significantly help in managing your eating habits. Discuss your concerns with them before the holiday season, explaining your triggers and how they can help you overcome them. Encourage them to keep their comments positive and motivating.
2. Formulate a Christmas Eating Strategy to overcome binge eating
Planning your holiday meals in advance can reduce stress and anxiety about eating. Discuss your anticipated holiday meals with a health professional. Consider the types of food that will be available and how you can manage portion sizes. In some cases, it may be beneficial to skip certain events to avoid temptation or stress.
3. Consider Hosting the Celebration
Hosting the party gives you control over the meal choices. Fill your table with healthy alternatives such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain crackers and low-fat cheese. Offering smaller plates can also help to control portion sizes. If attending a party, consider bringing your own healthy dish.
4. Eat Before You Leave
Don't skip meals before a holiday party or dinner. Doing so may increase the likelihood of binge eating. Instead, have a small snack before heading out. This could be a handful of almonds, some carrot sticks, or a small fruit salad.
5. Allow Yourself Some Indulgences
Allowing yourself to have a treat at the party can prevent feelings of deprivation which may lead to bingeing. Talk to your doctor about how you can enjoy holiday treats whilst still maintaining a healthy diet.
6. Stay Away from the Buffet
Remaining distant from the food table can reduce temptation. Make a single plate of food and position yourself as far from the buffet table as possible. Keeping yourself engaged with friends and family can also help to distract from the food.
7. Eat Slowly
Take small bites and chew your food thoroughly. This can give the illusion of having eaten more than you have. Once your plate is empty, leave the table before you are tempted to refill it.
8. Be Mindful of Your Drinks
Holiday drinks can be high in calories, with alcohol also known to increase appetite. Apply the same portion control rules to your drinks as you would your meals. Consider opting for lighter or alcohol-free beverages.
9. Find Healthy Distractions
When the food table becomes too tempting, find a non-food related activity to engage in. This could be a game of touch football, wrapping presents, or going for a walk with a friend.
10. Avoid Alcohol if Struggling
Alcohol can be a trigger for binge eating for some individuals. If you struggle with this, it may be best to avoid alcohol during the holidays. Remember, moderation is key.
11. Practice Forgiveness and Resilience
If you do overeat during the holiday season, it's important to forgive yourself and move on. One lapse does not mean a relapse. Remember, recovery is not a straight path, and resilience is key for long-term recovery.
12. Seek Professional Help
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, consider seeking professional help. There are many resources available, including online quizzes and free screenings, to help identify the severity of your condition and guide you towards appropriate treatment.
In summary, the holiday season can pose a significant challenge for those dealing with eating disorders. However, with a flexible mindset, a strong support network, and a focus on self-care, it's possible to navigate the festive period successfully. Remember, recovery is a marathon, not a sprint, and every step forward, no matter how small, is a victory. Don't let food fears overshadow the joy of the season. Instead, use this time as an opportunity to practice self-love, foster positive relationships, and nurture a healthier relationship with food.