Southwest Michigan Eating Disorders Association members suggest several strategies for enjoying/handling your holiday meals/gatherings:
Cathy Cook, LLPC, TLLP, RD Nutritional Therapist at Life Coach Psychology:
When attending parties or family events during the holiday season have a "support buddy." This is someone whom you 'Identify' and 'Ask' to help meet your planned goals before, during and after meals or eating events. Create a plan with the "support buddy" so they are prepared to divert triggering conversations, are ready and committed to go for a walk or participate in a planned activity after eating to combat unpleasant body sensations, and mainly a support person to help you lead a healthy life during the holiday season and beyond.
Cortney Modelewski, MA, LLPC, CBT Therapist at Cognitive Behavior Solutions:
Coping Cards are easy and effective way to help you stay on track. Write down techniques you plan to use, positive self-statements, your goals, or anything that will help you feel motivated and confident on an index card before a holiday event. You can make as many cards as you would like. Read your cards 2 - 3 times per day or any time you feel the urge to act on eating disorder thoughts and emotions. If you don't like using index cards, you can use notebook paper, a small notebook, sticky notes, your phone - anything that can fit in your pocket or purse discretely.
Kristin Fiore, Yoga Instructor and Owner of Down Dog Yoga Center:
Before a Meal:
Take a few moments to do some gentle twisting and slow, diaphragmatic breathing (inhale and count your natural breath, extend your exhale by the count of two) before you attend a holiday gathering.
During a Meal:
Eat slowly and mindfully, putting down your fork between bites and taking a few breaths - remember to chew 10-30 times for each bite.
After a Meal:
Do alternate nostril breathing (inhale through the left nostril, exhale through the right, inhale back up the right nostril and exhale out the left - repeat for at least 9 rounds) to de-stress and re-balance after a meal.
Sit and notice thoughts and urges while maintaining a focus on the natural breath. Tell yourself all is well~ all things arise and pass.
Trina Weber, MS, RD, LLC, registered dietitian & owner of private practice:
Choose not to compensate before or after the Thanksgiving meal. It could be served at a time you do not normally eat, which can throw off your regular meal plan times. You might be tempted to skip breakfast and snacks before the meal, purposely eat until you get sick, significantly reduce what you normally eat afterwards, or abuse exercise. This will only lead to more eating disordered behaviors. Be flexible with your meal plan. For example, if the meal is being served at 2:00 PM, eat your regular breakfast and have a snack at around 11:00 AM. You can have some dinner around 7:00 PM. Remember that these few days are only a tiny part of your overall eating picture.
Practice Owner, Lindsay P. South, MA/PLCC & Associates, Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor:
Plan ahead for activity after the holiday meal. Ask your guests ahead of time to bring walking shoes so you can take a stroll around the neighborhood or on a nearby trail after the meal. If the weather is too cold or snowy for a walk, play board or card games. Getting involved with your guests doing something fun and interactive can help you enjoy the holiday more fully and ease feelings of physical or social discomfort.