The holidays are meant to be a time of enjoyment and celebration that is generally also filled with traditional and festive foods. These joyous occasions can also cause stress and anxiety when it comes to navigating relationships with food, especially if you or your teen are recovering from an eating disorder. Setting goals and creating a strong framework to approach this time of year can be the best preparation for the weeks ahead.

Whole Heart offers these tips:

Shift the focus away from a food focused holiday and redirect your attention to your loved ones. As much as there may be an emphasis on what we eat when we are together, focus instead on ensuring you connect in some meaningful way with each of your family members and friends.

Stay present and do your best to not get stuck on negative thoughts. Trying a grounding exercise by actively shifting your attention to your other senses instead. You can focus on feelings of gratitude within the moment and feel joy this holiday season by actively noticing the people and experiences for which you are grateful.

Have support from a friend, family member or healthcare provider with whom you can check-in to help you navigate difficult situations. Knowing there is someone to support you can be a very powerful reassurance as you embark on the holidays.

Set boundaries by discussing your holiday expectations with those who you may be spending time. If friends or family know that you are recovering or may be struggling, talk to them about your concerns and identify strategies that they can help support through their actions.

Decrease body and diet talk by practicing ways to redirect the conversation and if need be, simply saying “I don’t want to talk about this.” and changing the subject. Aim to give others compliments that are not related to appearance to inspire them to do the same.

Keep your concentration on your plate, limiting comparisons. Everyone has different needs, and it is important to honour what works best for you and your recovery.

When it comes to food there are no good foods or bad foods, especially during the holidays. Remember that nourishing your body is the ultimate form of self-care and giving yourself permission to enjoy your favourite festive foods without fear is part of that. Mindful eating – taking your time and involving all your senses – can be helpful as well.

Try to be flexible when possible and allow for changes. While you may be following a particular plan, give yourself the flexibility to allow for unexpected changes. This will help you move through challenging situations.

Try not to over commit. There can be so many people to see and places to be. Choose the events that you feel most comfortable attending. Try to plan for these events by asking a friend for support or giving yourself an exit strategy if things become overwhelming. This is a time for relaxation and renewal, so ensure you are attending events that help you fulfill those needs and allow yourself to decline those that won’t.

The team at Whole Heart wishes you and yours the very best this holiday season. For support navigating dietary needs, contact Whole Heart’s Registered Nutrition Consultant Practitioner.