Holiday Tips

Tips for Eating with Ease

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.


From all of us at SMEDA, have a happy, peaceful holiday season!

Successful Food Strategies for Holiday Nourishment

We want to wish you a successful and happy holiday by offering some helpful tips.  Thank you Kendall Dick, Nutrition Intern for AB Nutrition Solutions for providing us with this week's article and our professional members that vetted it.

The holiday season is a wonderful and magical time that can often be equally as stressful. For many, the stress of being in containment with certain relatives for long periods of time is quickly alleviated by the thought of the secret family recipe they bring to the table. But for those suffering or recovering from an eating disorder, the cornucopia of food that feeds the holiday season only adds another helping of stress to their plates.

For those who are overcoming disordered eating, the holidays bring more challenges than varieties of Christmas cookies, but they are NOT insurmountable. When food is front and center for what seems like a never-ending season, those confronted with extra calories and extra tensions struggle against retreating into former patterns of restriction, purging, and extreme anxiety.

Individuals recovering from anorexia nervosa will likely experience quite a bit of anxiety over the quantity of rich and indulgent food which they typically restrict themselves from eating. For those with bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, the day is filled with persistent temptation to overindulge. These temptations can often lead to loss of control and subsequent feelings of shame or guilt.

To overcome all of these temptations and anxieties, a game plan must be prepared to make it through the twilight zone looming between the candy craze of Halloween and the midnight suppers of New Year’s Eve. Here are four tips on how to survive the holidays with an eating disorder:

  1. Plan ahead. More planning equals less stress and anxiousness about eating. Remember to stay hydrated throughout the day and eat regularly scheduled meals before a party so you don't show up overly hungry and irritable. Think about where and what foods will be available, portions, and how to stop eating when it’s time. In some cases, skipping an event altogether to avoid temptation or stress may be the safest option.
  2. Have a support system. Positive support from a trusted someone can reduce likeliness to eat in an unhealthy way. Before the holiday chaos ensues, enlist a confidant who will be around. Suggest that they assume the role of plate monitor, don’t allow any disappearances to the bathroom, and deflect comments from oblivious or overly concerned relatives.
  3. Stay in touch with your registered dietitian nutritionist, therapist, and doctor. Talking to them about food concerns is a healthy way to cope with holiday pressure. If travel demands mean missing an appointment, be sure to stay connected by phone or email. Accountability is the key to success.
  4. Shift the focus onto people and relationships rather than food. Think of parties and meals as opportunities to connect with others instead of fixate on food. The holiday season is a great time to enjoy relationships with loved ones, be thankful for blessings received, and to give back through loving service to others. These practices will help properly feed your soul, as well as your body.

Slowing down, soaking in the love of the season, and celebrating accomplishments of another year past can be an encouragement to pursue health and wellness in the upcoming year. Not only can these practices inspire a New Year’s resolution, but they also relieve stress and provide comfort in the current season. Even if all of this is easier said than done, the important thing to remember is that it can be done. And with persistence and support, it will be done.



Holiday Food And Fun For Everyone

With holiday parties and social gatherings starting, here is some sound advice from one of our professional members...

If you're having someone with an eating disorder over to your house for Thanksgiving, you might be feeling a bit nervous. Here are some tips for you:

1. Serve food you normally serve. You don't need to make special accommodations. In fact, serving “special” foods might encourage eating disorder behaviors.
2. Choose not to push your guest to eat. Doing so will actually push them into more eating disorder behaviors. Do not stare at them or their plate. If you are concerned about what your guest did/did not eat, wait and approach them at least a day after Thanksgiving and set up a specific time to talk about your concerns.
3. Choose not to take it personally if your guest eats differently than what you expect. It will take a lot of courage for them just to show up for a Thanksgiving meal. Your guest will probably have already decided what they were going to eat before they even knew the menu.
4. Choose not to make comments about your guest's size, weight, or appearance in any way. Watch how you talk about your own appearance and the appearance of others, including celebrities.
5. Remember there is much more to your guest than the eating disorder. Ask about their job, school, hobbies, friends, and other interests.