Hello All and Happy November! With Thanksgiving approaching, I wanted to bring back a guide that I created last year of how to navigate Thanksgiving when struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating.
Given that Thanksgiving is completely about food, it can be difficult to enjoy the day when you have thoughts in your head about how certain foods are bad for you, fearing gaining weight, or fearing the urge to binge-eat. A lot of people struggle with this holiday and it can be hard to figure out what to do to make the day as low-stress as possible. Below are just a few of the many tips that can help make this Thanksgiving, a little bit better.
Tip #1: Advocate During Uncomfortable Conversations
A holiday surrounded by food is usually spent talking about the food, how full someone feels or about how much they just ate, etc. It is okay and encouraged for you to advocate to change the topic of a conversation that you are uncomfortable with at the dinner table. This does not strictly go for food, weight, body image, exercise, etc., but really anything that your relatives are speaking about that could be triggering to you.
This can be a difficult thing to do, for many reasons, so if you are seeing a therapist regularly, this would be a great topic to talk about. You could also ask a loved one to help advocate for you!
Tip #2: Prepare Activities that Do Not Involve Food
Coming from a big, Italian family, I know that we are usually sitting around the table for most of the day on Thanksgiving, partly to eat and partly to catch up with family members. If your Thanksgiving is typically like this as well, and it's something that will cause stress and overwhelm, try to plan some activities that take you (and your loved ones) away from the table or kitchen.
This could be playing a board game, hanging out outside, watching a movie or Football game or something independent like reading a book or coloring. Anything that pulls you away from the table will give you a break from staring at your plate.
Just a reminder - it's okay to need a break!
Tip #3: Use Your Supports
If you are spending Thanksgiving with a loved one that you trust, speak with them beforehand to come up with a plan on the chance that you get overwhelmed. Don't be afraid to shoot them a text across the table saying "I need help, change the subject please" or "I need a break, will you sit outside with me?"; your loved ones are there to help! You can also reach out to a supporter who is not celebrating with you for a bit of a pep talk if the day gets too overwhelming. We all need support at times and it is okay to reach out!
If you are seeing an eating disorder therapist and dietitian regularly, please talk with them about ways to support yourself best this holiday season! Remember, Holidays can be nerve-wrecking and it's okay to need a little bit more support this year. Eating disorders are difficult to combat, at times, and Thanksgiving brings up a lot of emotions; reach out for help if you need!
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or disorder eating, please seek the help you deserve.
Stephanie, LMHC, specializes in children, teens and adults struggling with anxiety,eating disorders, behavioral challenges, life transitions and trauma.
Stephanie uses a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness and EMDR Therapy in her work with clients.
Stephanie has some availability to take new clients residing in
NY, NJ, CT and FL.