It’s that time of year again – soon many will be gathered around a decorative table to celebrate a holiday that includes festivities, family traditions and traditional feasts. Thanksgiving can be more than just a gathering with your loved ones drinking apple cider and eating delicious foods; it can also be a time to express gratitude and cherish memories. The celebration of Thanksgiving can have multiple meanings and purposes for each individual. Similarly, it may not be a positive experience for everyone and can be triggering for some individuals. It’s important to try not lose sight of the meaning of Thanksgiving as well as making your comfort a priority by keeping your glass full.1 This blog post will work to build a plan of action to ensure this Thanksgiving will be a holiday to remember filled with laughs, love, warm beverages and tasty food.
First and foremost, take a moment to reflect on gratitude and memories.2 What are you grateful for? What does Thanksgiving mean to you? Is there a family tradition that you are looking forward to?2 Who would you like to give thanks to? Is there a person in your life that helped you become the person you are today? What is the most beautiful thing that you saw today? Can you recall a memory or a moment that triggers you to smile to this day? When we really take time to reflect on gratitude, we acknowledge self-development, growth and strength.2
Holiday celebrations can be a chance to practice some of your positive coping skills. Going into this holiday, some individuals may be triggered by their eating disorder (ED), past memories, food thoughts, table talk, social media posts and/or diet culture.1 Individuals who have an ED or are working towards their journey to recovery may face challenging yet common feelings of fear and anxiety. Having a plan in place can help to reduce anxiety and help you to enjoy this holiday.2
Let’s Explore our Coping Skills
Support. Choose a loved one to help support you throughout this holiday celebration.3 Talk to them about your emotions and fears that you are experiencing leading up to the meal so that you won’t feel alone at the table.2 This can be the person that you can lean on if you feel anxious during the holiday. Don’t be afraid to invite them aside, get a breath of fresh air and let them walk you through your coping exercises.3 If you feel uncomfortable with making your plate, let them serve you to reduce the anxiety that may manifest.
Eat as you normally would. Just because this holiday has a great emphasis on “food” doesn’t mean that you should change your intake leading up to the celebratory meal.2 In ED recovery, it’s important to continue with mechanical eating in order to heal and receive the appropriate energy and nutrients that meet your needs.2 Try to avoid skipping a meal and/or shifting your food choices and portion sizes that you consume leading up to this meal.2 Doing so can often trigger negative thoughts and possible binge-like behaviours later on in the day.2
Step away from social media. Media can often be detrimental to those susceptible to diet culture (read: all of us!).2 Don’t pay attention to titles like “Staying on Track Over the Holidays” or “Avoiding Thanksgiving Weight Gain” that often promote fat shaming and restriction. It may be helpful to stay off social media for a few days leading up to the holiday to prevent evoking a negative state of mind and negative food relationships.2 Instead, spend some time journaling and prioritizing self-care.
Use positive talk. It’s very important to consider the language that we use around others.2 Whether it’s you or someone else, words and topics of conversations can be very triggering. Refrain from using the words “diet”, “calories”, “weight loss”, “body image” and “healthy/unhealthy food”. Further, ask others to do the same! If fat shaming or food rules becomes a topic of conversation, excuse yourself and help serve or assist in the kitchen.2
It’s normal to feel slightly uncomfortable and full after a big meal. Try remember not to associate this feeling with guilt or shame. Instead, settle down on the couch with your favourite warm beverage and enjoy the comfort and quality time with your loved ones. Give thanks for how far you’ve come so far and for the journey ahead of you. Happy Thanksgiving!
- Five Ways To Help Your Loved One Through Thanksgiving Dinner. In Walden Eating Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.waldeneatingdisorders.com/5-ways-to-help-your-loved-one-during-the-thanksgiving-meal/
- ED Recovery: Tips Too Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner. In Recovery Warriors. Retrieved from https://www.recoverywarriors.com/eating-disorder-recovery-tips-to-enjoy-thanksgiving/
- Tips for Surviving Thanksgiving in Recovery. In National Eating Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/tips-surviving-thanksgiving-recovery