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 Post subject: Holiday Survival (Even Enjoyment!) Tips
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:54 am 
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With the American Thanksgiving quickly approaching and Christmas after that, I am posting a number of different takes on how to manage upcoming holiday celebrations as someone with an eating disorder, or the loved one or friend of someone with an eating disorder. While there are a number of common themes (plan ahead, set boundaries, find a support person or ally, eat what you want to eat and don't eat what you don't want, follow your meal plan and eat regularly throughout special days - restricting so you can splurge later will backfire, just work on maintaining your weight, use stress management and coping skills, and most importantly, breathe!) these are also useful guidse to think about and practice not just during special events, but every day:

Quote:
The Non-Dieter’s Holiday Survival Guide

by Golda Poretsky, H.H.C. on November 19, 2012

It seems that every year around this time, I get gazillions of emails from folks who are nervous about the holidays.

Explaining to your family that you don’t want to know the number of calories in pecan pie, that you’re not interested in that new diet book that worked for your nephew’s former roommate, and that, yes, you have put on a little weight, and it’s totally OKAY, may not be your idea of a fun holiday.

Over the years, I’ve written many blog posts and done a bunch of talks on this topic, but I want to distill all of it down into a handy guide.

Quote:
The Non-Dieter’s Holiday Survival Guide:

Breathe, Deeply & Often
Set Boundaries
Enjoy Your Food
Follow The Fun
You Are Not Crazy


Feel free to print it out and stash it in your pocket.

1. Breathe, Deeply & Often
I’m a veteran of those aerobics classes where the teacher constantly tells you, “Don’t forget to breathe!” I remember finding that advice kind of annoying and yet strangely helpful when a deep breath was really what I needed.

How It Works: As you probably know, taking a breath that’s a little deeper than normal is an important way to reduce anxiety and relax your body. It also helps you to enjoy your food.

Pro Tip: Instead of taking a really deep, 100% full type of breath (which can actually be a little stressful to your body if you’re not used to it), take a 75% full breath. Just try to fill up your lungs about three-quarters of the way, hold it for a few seconds, and breathe out. Do this whenever you think of it, and especially if you’re feeling anxious. This will relax your body and allow you to engage with the 4 other tips.

2. Set Boundaries
This one is so important but often so hard to do. For a more in depth post on how to set boundaries, check this out, but I want to give you my handy formula for setting boundaries right here:
1) Acknowledge The Other Person, Their Feelings & Positive Motives

2) Make Your Request Clearly

How It Works: Let’s say you have an aunt who always comments on your weight, and you’d really like her to stop. Here’s how you can use this formula to set a boundary:

“Aunt Ethel, I know you comment on my weight because you think it’s helpful, but it’s not, and I need you to stop doing that.”

Pro Tip: You may need to repeat yourself a lot when setting this boundary, and it’s possible that Aunt Ethel is never going to get it. However, by setting the boundary, you get the benefit of standing up for yourself and acknowledging what you need, which is quite empowering.
Click to tweet this: “Get the Non-Dieter’s Holiday Survival Guide from @bodylovewellnes!”

3. Enjoy Your Food
Enjoying food can actually be quite difficult during the holidays, even if you love holiday food. If you’re feeling stressed and anxious, it’s likely that your body is in fight or flight mode. This means that the blood is in your arms and legs, rather than the core of your body where you need it to digest and assimilate your food.

How It Works: So it’s especially important during this time of year to focus, as best you can, on actually enjoying your food. As much as possible, take time to breathe, go a little slower, and engage all of your senses. One of the nicest things about this time of year is the special food that we don’t normally eat, so take time to really enjoy it.

Pro Tip: If you start to feel your inner critic going on and on about how you shouldn’t be eating this or that, take a moment to think, “I approve of my food choices.” Use this as an affirmation that will calm your mind and allow it to get on board with the fact that you are enjoying your food.

4. Follow The Fun
Sometimes the holidays can feel really demanding. You may have endless shopping lists, way too much food to prepare, or social situations that require seeing people you usually avoid. So I think it’s important to find the fun where you can.

How It Works: Finding the fun in not so fun situations is an art and it takes practice, but if you look for it, you can catch it and amplify it. Turn on some music and make cooking into a dance party. Tell jokes, laugh, move your body whenever possible. The moment you start feeling stuck is the moment it’s time to change things up and follow the fun.

Pro Tip: If the fun is not happening indoors, get outside as much as you can. Someone has to pick up the tree? Volunteer to do it. No one got a present for the neighbor? Run by the store. Giving yourself time and space to get outside, move your body, and play some music that you like is often a nice counterbalance to a stressful holiday.

5. You Are Not Crazy
Being around people you love who diet can make you feel positively nuts, so it’s important to remind yourself that choosing not to diet is actually a sound choice.

How It Works: It’s hard enough to operate in a world where facts about fat and health and the reality of diet marketing is an unfamiliar subject. So it’s important to have some backup. Call a non-dieting friend when you get a moment alone. Look at body positive pinterest boards. Bring my book with you so you can remind yourself that going to your Mom’s OA meeting over the weekend is not the answer.

Pro Tip: You don’t have to convince anyone that you’re right. Doing so will just leave you frustrated.

http://www.bodylovewellness.com/2012/11/19/the-non-dieters-holiday-survival-guide/

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 Post subject: Re: Holiday eating
PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:36 pm 
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Quote:
Dr. Deah's Therapeutic Tid Bit of the Month

Red Alert Red Alert...December is a tricky month for folks struggling with eating disorders and body image issues. While the beginning of December starts off benign enough with people processing how they managed the challenges of Thanksgiving, it isn't long before new holiday pressures begin to take center stage. Whether you are a practicing religious person or not, it is difficult to be unaffected by the seductive Sirens of the Winter Holiday Season who are demanding overindulgence in spending, eating, drinking, and partying.

It would be easy to wrap up this month's Therapeutic Tid Bit with the old cliché, "everything in moderation" but that would be misleading. I'm not suggesting that December's therapeutic challenge has to do with maintaining ones' "will power" during Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Solstice feasts and celebrations.

I am suggesting that sometimes in the effort to live up to the external demands of the media and family to buy the best gifts, wear the best outfits, bake the best cookies we get swept away in all of the holiday hooplah and the connection to self is lost. When this happens, it is difficult to stop and tune into the cues our bodies are sending us that we are tired, hungry, full, lonely, overextended. When we stop listening to our internal cues and needs, we revert to unconscious behaviors and old habits that frequently result in feeling guilty or disappointed in ourselves. For many people this escalates into an all or nothing mindset and as bingeing increases so does the desperation associated with December 31st and the opportunity to start all over again with a punitive and unrealistic New Year's resolution.

Some things to consider

•Help your clients [or yourself] time manage the upcoming demands of the holiday season so they [you] don't feel overwhelmed by trying to please everyone else and forget about self-care.
•Prioritize and budget gift spending and party attending so there is a balance between giving and not depleting.
•Remember that the holiday season is not joyful for everyone and be sensitive to those who find this time of year challenging. Give them permission to be honest with themselves and others and choose what is the best way for them to navigate through the month?
•Whether it is Christmas, Chanukah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, or none of the above, a common theme of this season is supposed to be peace and joy. Find the places (internal or external) of joy and peace that give you strength and reinforce your ability for self-care and set aside some time during the month to spend some time there.
•And if you are compelled to set New Year's Resolutions, please choose ones that are not based on body-hate or numbers on a scale. Set short term attainable goals that are more related to self-acceptance.

Dr. Deah's Smooze-Letter

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 Post subject: Re: Holiday eating
PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:40 pm 
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Quote:
6 Ways To Support Someone With An Eating Disorder During The Holidays

As a partner, family member or friend, you might be unsure about how to help your loved one during the holidays. You want to support them through this potentially tough time. But you just don’t know how to go about doing that.

Here’s some insight from the experts at Eating Recovery Center that might help.

1. Avoid being the food police. According to Bonnie Brennan, MA, LPC, clinical director of Eating Recovery Center’s Partial Hospitalization Program:

Unless a treatment team has given you a plan to monitor and portion your loved ones’ food, do not play “food police.” This can raise your loved one’s anxiety and backfire big time. So, I advise friends and loved ones to “drop the rope” and focus on enjoying the wonderful person in front of you. After all, the holidays are about connections with others and food is only one piece of that.

2. Respect their recovery. As Brennan said, “Some individuals with eating disorders are not ready for a big meal or party or eating in front of many people with so many different food choices. If that is the case with your friend or loved one, respect where he or she is at in the recovery process.”

3. Keep things simple and small. “Depending on where a friend or loved one is in the recovery process, this holiday season may be time to keep plans simple and small. When your holiday plans involve traveling and seeing many different people and relatives in different contexts, it may be too overwhelming for the individual with an eating disorder—and for you too!” Brennan said.

4. Let go of perfection. “Although you may long for an ideal holiday celebration, you have a friend or loved one who is challenged with a life threatening illness. Remember to stay recovery-focused and that things will not be perfect,” Brennan said.

5. Ask your loved one how you can help. According to Elizabeth Easton, PsyD, clinical director of child and adolescent services at Eating Recovery Center’s Behavioral Hospital for Children and Adolescents:

If you are a parent or family member of a loved one recently in recovery from an eating disorder, it is important to be aware and mindful during the holiday season. Ask your loved one questions and try to validate the possible stressors of holiday events. For example, “What can I do to support you with during tonight’s holiday party?”

6. Pay attention to your own relationship with food and your body. This can include everything from how you speak about food and yourself — “Oh, that has too many calories” or “That’ll go right to my hips” — to how you approach New Year’s resolutions. “For instance, set a New Years resolution to ‘focus on health’ as opposed to ‘lose weight’ or ‘cut out carbohydrates,’” Easton said.

There are many ways you can support someone who’s recovering from an eating disorder. Reach out, and ask them how you can help. Be compassionate, and communicate your concern and support.

If you’re not sure what else to do, contact your loved one’s treatment team or another clinician who specializes in eating disorders for insight.

Any tips you’d like to share on supporting loved ones through the holiday season?

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2012/12/6-ways-to-support-someone-with-an-eating-disorder-during-the-holidays/

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 Post subject: Re: Holiday Survival Tips and Sites
PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:05 am 
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Quote:
Twelve Ideas to Help People with Eating Disorders Negotiate the Holidays

Courtesy of: Center for Change / Compiled by: Michael E. Berrett, PhD

1. Eat regularly and in some kind of reasonable pattern. Avoid "preparing for the last supper." Don’t skip meals and starve in attempt to make up for what you recently ate or are about to eat. Keep a regular and moderate pattern.

2. Worry more about the size of your heart than the size of your hips! It is the holiday season, a great time to reflect, enjoy relationships with loved ones, and most importantly a time to feel gratitude for blessings received and a time to give back through loving service to others.

3. Discuss your anticipations of the holidays with your therapist, physician, dietitian, or other members of your treatment team so that they can help you predict, prepare for, and get through any uncomfortable family interactions without self destructive coping attempts.

4. Have a well thought out game plan before you go home or invite others into your home. Know "where the exits are," where your support persons are, and how you’ll know when it’s time to make a brief exit and get connected with needed support.

5. Talk with loved ones about important issues: decisions, victories, challenges, fears, concerns, dreams, goals, special moments, spirituality, relationships and your feelings about them. Allow important themes to be present and allow yourself to have fun rather than rigidly focusing on food or body concerns.

6. Choose, ahead of time, someone to call if you are struggling with addictive behaviors, or with negative thoughts, or difficult emotions. Call them ahead of time and let them know of your concerns, needs, and the possibility of them receiving a call from you.

7. If it would be a support or help to you, consider choosing one loved one to be your "reality check" with food, to either help plate up food for you, or to give you a reality check on the food portions which you dish up for yourself.

8. Write down your vision of where you would like your mind and heart to be during this holiday time with loved ones. Take time, several times per day, to find a quiet place to become in tune again with your vision, to remember, to nurture, and to center yourself into those thoughts, feelings, and actions which are congruent with your vision for yourself.

9. If you have personal goals for your time with loved ones during the holidays, focus the goals around what you would like to do. Make your goals about "doing something" rather than about trying to prevent something. If you have food goals, then make sure you also add personal emotional, spiritual, and relationship goals as well.

10. Work on being flexible in your thoughts. Learn to be flexible in guidelines for yourself, and in expectations of yourself and others. Strive to be flexible in what you can eat during the holidays. Take a holiday from self imposed criticism, rigidity, and perfectionism.

11. Stay active in your support group, or begin activity if you are currently not involved. Many support groups can be helpful. 12-step group, co-dependency group, eating disorder therapy group, neighborhood "Bunco" game group, and religious or spiritually oriented groups are examples of groups which may give real support. Isolation and withdrawal from positive support is not the right answer for getting through trying times.

12. Avoid "overstressing" and "overbooking" yourself and avoid the temptation and pattern of becoming "too busy." A lower sense of stress can decrease a felt need to go to eating disorder behaviors or other unhelpful coping strategies. Cut down on unnecessary events and obligations and leave time for relaxation, contemplation, reflection, spiritual renewal, simple service, and enjoying the small yet most important things in life. This will help you experience and enjoy a sense of gratitude and peace.

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/nedaDir/files/documents/handouts/Holiday.pdf

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 Post subject: Re: Holiday Survival Tips and Sites
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:19 pm 
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Quote:
Saying No to Holiday Gatherings to Protect Recovery

One of my goals this year is to reclaim the holidays from the clutches of commercialism, family drama and the belief that things have to be perfect. It’s ironic that the biggest holiday season of the year is also the most stressful for many people. It’s as if we all decided to throw ourselves a party with the foreknowledge that it’s going to be miserable. Wouldn’t just going to work instead be the more peaceful option?

How crazy! It’s sobering, though, to remember that for the many people struggling to recover from an eating disorder, the stakes are much, much higher. The holidays aren’t just a challenge to common sense, they can be downright dangerous.

“Even for patients who are making good progress in overcoming an eating disorder,” says licensed professional counselor Bonnie Brennan, “we may have to hit the ‘reset’ button after the holidays.”

Brennan, who is clinical director of the Eating Recovery Center's Adult Partial Hospitalization Program in Denver, tells the story of one patient who quailed at the thought of making the annual holiday trek to the family home. The house was usually packed to the rafters with extended family, affording very little privacy and opportunity to escape from the “family ledger of past resentments.”

Even ostensibly warm and nostalgic annual rituals such as posing for the annual family picture could erupt into discussions about past differences, by both the patient and her siblings.

Since she couldn’t put a physical wall between herself and the family, says Brennan, the next best thing her patient could do to set boundaries was to sneak off into the garage or the laundry room, where food for the holiday festivities was temporarily stored. There, she could binge in secret, “taking a time out, but not in the most functional way,” explains Brennan. The sensation of numbness that follows a binge, of “not being emotionally present, was a way of putting an invisible wall around herself.”

So what was Brennan’s advice? To politely tell her family’s inner circle that as much as she loved them, it was not healthy to be at the annual extended family holiday gathering, and instead to plan smaller events with individual family members throughout the year. For the holidays the patient planned to stay in her hometown, where she and her husband and children could visit with family friends in environments she knew she would feel safe.

Instead of being honest about the reason for not coming to the family gathering, some people in this situation might be tempted to finesse their way out of the situation, offering excuses other than the truth. Brennan disagrees with this approach, saying, “Unless there’s some dire consequence to being transparent it’s usually healthier to be straightforward about why you might be making the decision to take care of yourself. You can say to your family member, ‘I love you, I really appreciate you but I need to take care of myself during this family holiday’…eating disorders thrive in secrecy and it’s about how to have relationships that are more meaningful and authentic.”

Fair enough. But what about extended family members? Do you really have that conversation with them too? Brennan believes, yes, not necessarily immediately, but gradually over time letting everyone know the truth. Since there is a strong genetic component to eating disorders, it’s highly possible that you might see evidence of an emerging disorder in a niece, nephew or second cousin. “There is a benefit to letting blood relatives know because 40-50% of the risk of developing an eating disorder is genetic. For example, a woman with a sister or mother with anorexia is 12 times more likely to develop anorexia nervosa and four times more likely to develop bulimia nervosa” explains Brennan. “You might be helping a family member get early access to treatment.”

http://www.eatingdisordersblogs.com/nutrition/2012/11/saying-no-to-holiday-gatherings-to-protect-recovery.html

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 Post subject: Re: How to support your loved ones through December Celebrat
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:43 pm 
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These are really tips for those struggling with eating disorders to help get through Christmas, but it also helps those around them to understand why they may be using some strategies like these:

Quote:
Family and Friends

Of course, then there is the fact that food is a communal experience for human beings—our appetites and health depend upon it. The complexities of fairness, reciprocation and bonding in our social structures as it relates to the sharing of food are inextricably linked to our ability to be adequately nourished and energized.

However in our cultures, where there is a constant stream of weight-obsessed chatter in which we indulge during these holiday celebrations, things can get mighty unpleasant for someone in recovery surrounded either by other family members with restrictive eating issues, or conversely family members who cannot understand restrictive eating issues.

There are fabulous blog posts from Michele and Ragen (respectively) that offer prescriptions for dealing with family members who are compelled to extend their own food intake anxieties all over you while you are actively recovering:

Inevitable Holiday Post

Holiday Song

And I am going to try to provide some prescriptions for you so you can enter this holiday season supporting your recovery efforts fully while gracefully managing family and/or friends who cannot understand how you struggle with something they consider automatic and not worthy of such ‘drama’.

1. It is not your job to educate the world on the challenges you face just sitting down for a meal. However, it is likely in your best interests to ensure that friends and family don’t end up inadvertently misinterpreting your reactions because they are completely unaware that you have a restrictive eating disorder.

2. If you have kept your eating disorder a secret then you are going to be prone to two types of responses that can be very upsetting. The first response will be that you are praised for your restraint and your ability to resist temptation. The second will be that your rejection of food is seen as a snub and it will either result in general tenseness for the gathering, or someone will choose to escalate the situation by suggesting you are being selfish and unkind in refusing to eat something.

Honesty diffuses both scenarios: “Actually, I am horribly hungry and it is very unhealthy to apply this kind of restraint at all. I am sorry I am unable to respond to my real desire to be a part of all this wonderful food that has been so beautifully and lovingly prepared. I am working on recovery from an eating disorder at the moment and it is a work in progress.”

3. If you are uncomfortable negotiating the situation solo with the entire gathered clan, then call upon a special friend of family member ahead of time. Let him or her know that you develop anxieties when the topic turns to food intake, weight gain, and body image and you’d appreciate his or her help in steering everyone beyond those topics as quickly as possible.

4. Be somewhat prepared ahead of time to talk, or not talk, about your recovery process. If you are comfortable responding to questions about your recovery at the gathering, then go for it. If, however, you think that might generate more discomfort for you, then just let the person know that you will be happy to chat with them some other time to bring them up to date on all your efforts and progress, but that you really want to try to just focus on enjoying the celebration as much as you can right now.

5. If panic overwhelms you, you have an urge to cry and/or you begin to shake and feel like you are going to faint as you try to eat your meal, breathe. Remember you breathe out slowly first. Empty the lungs of air over at least 4 slow counts. Then pause comfortably, not forcing it. Next slowly inhale and expand the lungs with air. Pause again with your lungs full not holding your breath.

Another good reason for having a special friend or family member well aware of your challenges is that he or she can smooth things over for the entire concerned gathering if you need to just excuse yourself to have a few minutes away to breathe and apply your relaxation techniques in a quiet space.

6. Your measure of success will be when you, in the span of the entire celebration, take a moment to look around and absorb some essential joy in what it means to be surrounded by people you care about and who care about you. Eating with loved ones is a fundamental joy that everyone deserves, including you (no matter what your eating disorder says!).

7. It is also more than o.k. to skip a family celebration and protect your overall recovery effort. If your family is dysfunctional; if they have never supported your efforts to recover; or if they repeatedly resist your efforts at assigning respectful boundaries when it comes to your decisions and choices in life, then you should not attend simply because you believe that duty dictates you do so.

I have several friends who have created their own families from friends over the years because their blood relatives are just too toxic to be around. Protecting your recovery effort takes precedence over trying to navigate a fractious family situation if that is where you are at right now.

8. Holiday food is a gift, not a health risk. Enjoy.

May 2013 be filled with the deep and abiding joy of a full remission for you all.

Gwyneth Olwyn, in Food, Family and Fear

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 Post subject: Re: Holiday Survival (Even Enjoyment!) Tips
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:33 am 
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Quote:
The inevitable holiday post
By Michelle
November 20, 2012

It’s true, Thanksgiving is a weirdly imperialist semi-genocidal sort of holiday, but hey, at least we can enjoy the tradition of getting together with family and eating a bunch of mashed potatoes!

Or can we?

If some people’s relatives had their way, the answer would be a resounding HAHA, SUCKER! Because certain people exist only to make your food-eating life as a fat person (or a whatever-sized person) miserable.

So, here’s the thing: whether or not you are fat, you are the only person who gets to decide what food goes in your mouth, what tastes good, and how much of it makes you feel full and satisfied. No matter how many busybodies and dietary conspiracy theorists get in your face, you are still the only one who can decide.

This goes for holidays just as much as any other time of the year. And maybe especially for holidays, given that they have been specifically set aside for centuries as feast days. A time to get your feast on. A time to enjoy food without the usual constraints of looming scarcity, whether naturally- or artificially-imposed.

So, with that in mind, I have a few holiday tips for you. And they are not of the “fill up on celery before the party!” variety.

1) You have permission to eat. Period. You have permission to eat what and how much you want. Food is not poison, your body belongs to you, and you are a grown-up who gets to decide what to eat. That’s it. That’s all. It’s the plain truth. So give yourself explicit permission to eat when you sit down to eat. Remind yourself who is really in charge (it’s you.)

2) It’s your job to take care of your body. I mean, I guess you don’t really have to if you don’t want to, but your body is going to make you pay for any sort of neglect. And when I say “take care of it” that is not code for “eat some ridiculously restrictive diet predicated on the notion that food is poisonous.” It means to take care of yourself in a way that feels good and allows you to function well, both physically and emotionally. When it comes to food, taking care of yourself usually means eating often enough so that you’re not starvingly, desperately hungry in between times, and that you eat enough to feel pleasantly satisfied, maybe even really full, but not physically ill. So, even on holidays, the mandate to take care of yourself with food stands: eat some breakfast. If you’re having an early afternoon dinner, maybe have a snack around midday, or a light lunch. If you’re eating your holiday dinner at regular dinner time, then have a regular lunch. You will actually enjoy your holiday meal more on moderate hunger. Desperation makes things exciting and dramatic, but actually can make it more difficult to taste and enjoy your food. It also makes you cranky and more prone to family blow-outs. Drama-free is the way to go.

3) Eat foods that are enjoyable, but that also make you feel good. For me, this means including roughage and fruits and veggies and whatnot with my meals. Your mileage may vary. You know what foods make you feel good. Milk? Bananas? Chocolate on the side? Provided you like eating them well enough, just add them onto whatever you’re already eating. Make it as easy on yourself as possible. Raw baby carrots will get the job done, as will pre-cut, pre-washed salad from a bag, or some mandarins, or a cut-up apple, or even some applesauce or orange juice. Supplement your meal with feel-good foods, no matter how imperfect.

4) Don’t eat stuff you don’t like, either before the holiday meal, or AT the holiday meal. It is not your job to appease Aunt Bessie’s conscience about her horrible cooking. “No, thanks,” is all adults need to say. Repeat it, repeat it, repeat it if they pressure you. “No, thanks.” It’s a complete sentence. It can stand as an answer even to follow-up questions like, “But don’t you like it? You used to always like it!” Just, “No, thanks.” If they push, they are the ones making things weird, not you. In the wise words of Captain Awkward, “Let it be awkward.” It’s not your job to smooth over the awkwardness from their neurosis. It is your job to do right by your body and not force yourself to eat stuff you don’t enjoy, or that will make you feel overfull and terrible later.

5) Don’t engage with the inevitable weight talk, or talk of food-related sinning (“I’m so bad! This is so bad for you! Watch me eat the entire thing because I am totally in denial about my own neurosis!”) Don’t engage. It’s not your job to educate people about eating, or self-acceptance, or Health at Every Size, although a light reassurance that food is good, and it’s a holiday so lighten up, Francis, may not go amiss – if you think it won’t set off further self-flagellation or lecturing. Gauge the situation. You know your relatives better than I do. But it’s a holiday – you should not have to be educating other people about how to eat on a holiday. It’s your day off. And, here’s a hint, they probably won’t listen to you anyway. So keep your own counsel and save your energy for pie.

6) One simple phrase, “Let’s just enjoy this,” can work wonders. If people are insistent on indicting the food sitting on the table (while everyone around them partakes in it and then feels vaguely dirty), say lightly, “Let’s just enjoy this,” and keep eating. Again – repeat and repeat as often as necessary until they lay off. They don’t have to eat the food if it’s giving them anxiety-hives, or if they don’t like it, or if it doesn’t sit well in their body, but it’s rude for them to vomit their issues all over the food that other people are actively eating and enjoying.

7) In case you were tempted, lay off other people’s eating. Put down that responsibility today. Don’t push food on people. Don’t comment on how much or how little they take. Don’t ask them “Should you be eating that?” or “How’s your blood sugar?” It is not your, or anyone’s, place to police what other people eat, even if they have honest-to-goodness dietary issues. They are grown-ups. If they have health issues, presumably they have seen a doctor and have been made aware of what they should be doing. It is their choice to follow those guidelines or not, and it is not your place to play food cop – doing so is a great way to totally spoil a holiday and potentially wreck your relationship. So sit on your hands, zip the lip, do whatever you need to do to stay out of other people’s business.

8) If the food police descend on you, hear them, then drop it. You can go the passive-aggressive-Southerner/Miss-Manners route and give them a “Bless your heart! Thank you for your concern,” and keep eating or walk away. Or you could go the blunt honest route and say, “I know you mean well, but I know what I’m doing,” and try to change the subject or walk away (warning, this one is likely to start a fight if you have contentious family members. Use with caution.) Mostly, someone just wants to make sure their (usually obnoxious) opinion has been heard and validated, so to save your sanity you can just nod gravely and say, “I see! How interesting. Thanks for the advice,” then completely disregard it and go about your meal. Pick whichever strategy matches best with the unique flavour of neurosis present in your family. Then debrief with an understanding friend or family member later on and get a hug. If you expect this kind of thing, see if you can set up a phone hotline situation with a friend ahead of time – agree to text or phone each other to check in at some point during the day, and offer each other support.

9) Focus on your own food and enjoy it. Eyes on your own plate, if you will. This can be really hard to do on a holiday, ironically, because of all the distraction and hubbub of the holiday itself. So, before diving into the plate of delectation set before you, take a good, deep breath. Give your mind two seconds to settle itself. Take a good look at your food, and smile to yourself, and feel how your stomach is feeling. Smell the food and taste the food. It is usually pretty awesome.

10) If all else fails, go sit at the kiddie table. Sure, they don’t want their food touching other food, and will often end up with peas in their nose, but otherwise they tend to be pretty chill about letting people eat what they eat.

Dig in. Be thankful for your food. That’s what this is all about, right?

The Fat Nutritionist

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 Post subject: Re: Holiday Survival (Even Enjoyment!) Tips
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:39 am 
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Quote:
A Fat Holiday Song

One of the most frequent questions I get during the holidays is about how to deal with family who are behaving badly. For me the secret is boundaries. I think it’s best to start by deciding what constitutes appropriate behavior. If it’s anything other than “anything goes” then I would consider setting some boundaries with consequences that you can follow through with. So, for example “It is not ok to talk about my weight or eating. If anyone says one more thing about my weight or eating I’m going to leave.” and then, if your they fail to respect your boundaries, it’s time to go. I’ve heard from a number of people who have done this and the common thread seems to be that they only had to do it one time and then their families started respecting their boundaries. Of course your mileage may vary.

To serve as a reminder I’ve re-written the lyrics to “Oh Christmas Tree” to be an ode to boundary setting.

In order for this to work, you have to pronounce boundaries as a three syllable word (BOUND-ah-rees)

Without further ado (and with special thanks to the members of More Cabaret for their input between full-speed run-throughs at rehearsal today) here is my fat holiday song:

Quote:
Oh Boundaries! Oh Boundaries!
You help me deal with family.
Don’t talk about my weight or food.
Why can’t you see it’s hella rude

Oh Boundaries! Oh Boundaries!
You help me deal with family.
You know I love my family
But I will leave if you fat-shame me.

Oh Boundaries! Oh Boundaries!
You help me deal with family.
My body’s fine, I don’t need your rants
You’re not the boss of my underpants

Oh Boundaries! Oh Boundaries!
You help me deal with family.
Don’t say a word to my fat kid
Or I’ll leave so fast, my tires will skid

Oh Boundaries! Oh Boundaries!
You help me deal with family.
Yes I do “need” that second plate
It’s not your business what I ate

Oh Boundaries! Oh Boundaries!
You help me deal with family.
Quit saying someday I’ll get sick
Last time I checked you were not psychic

Oh Boundaries! Oh Boundaries!
You help me deal with family.
The holidays are great family time
If you don’t shame, food-police or whine

Oh Boundaries! Oh Boundaries!
You help me deal with family.


Dances With Fat

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 Post subject: Re: Holiday Survival (Even Enjoyment!) Tips
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:11 am 
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Quote:
A SERVING OF TIPS FOR HAPPY, HEALTHY HOLIDAY EATING
By Laurie Conteh
November 20, 2012

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” We all know the song, and for some of us, it is a great time of the year. However, if you are someone who struggles with eating, it can be a stressful and challenging season. Family gatherings, office parties, and food everywhere can make for an anxiety-producing couple of months. However, with some thinking and planning ahead, you can manage your anxiety, and even enjoy the holidays.

Below are some tips to help you through this season. Whether food is a difficult or simple part of your life, practicing these tips can be good for everyone. Food should be nourishing and fun, not stressful and anxiety-producing – particularly during the holiday season!

Being in Control at Holiday Meals

Only you have ultimate control over what you eat. Especially this time of year, friends and family may try to get you to eat things you normally would not eat or to eat more of something than you are comfortable eating. It is critical during this season to pay attention to your internal cues and personal decisions rather than the external pressures to eat.

Find out what will be served ahead of time and create a game plan. Decide what foods you really enjoy eating and which foods you can ignore, and then stick to that decision! Pick food for flavor and satisfaction. Sometimes, we eat food just because it is called a “dessert” when we don’t really even care for it.

Pay attention to your portion sizes and allow yourself to have more if you enjoyed something and are still hungry. Food is meant to be enjoyed!

On the flip side, if you don’t really enjoy something, don’t feel obligated to finish it. Go back and choose something you do enjoy.

If you really enjoy something but are satisfied and feel full, take some with you to have the next day.

For those of you with concerns about weight gain, everybody frets about gaining weight between “Christmas and New Years.” Truth be told, when you really gain weight is all of that time between “New Years and Christmas.” The single week between Christmas and New Years is not where the problem lies.

If you have anorexia nervosa and are fearful of holiday foods, try a memory test. Choose a small portion of a holiday food that you used to enjoy before developing your eating disorder. Take a small bite and allow yourself to remember the positive memories that are associated with that food—where you ate it, friends or relatives that you ate it with, a happy holiday time in the past. Just for that one bite, don’t think about the frightening aspects of the food, but allow it to be a conduit for positive memories.

Lastly – to the extent that you can can, allow yourself some guilt-free enjoyment of your favorite holiday treats, and savor the tastes and textures of the wonderful foods of the holiday season!

Exchanges

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 Post subject: Re: Holiday Survival (Even Enjoyment!) Tips
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:19 am 
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Quote:
Lessons in Self-Care: 5 Ways to Survive and Thrive Through the Holidays When You Have an Eating Disorder
By August McLaughlin
November 21, 2013

Quote:
“Change happens when you understand what you want to change so deeply that there is no reason to do anything but act in your own best interest.” — Geneen Roth


Food, family gatherings and thankfulness are centerpieces of many Americans’ holidays—often in that order. These very traits commonly deemed attributes are precisely what make the food-centric season challenging when you have an eating disorder, which can make festive food displays daunting and the company of others intimidating.

Whether you’ve struggled with disordered eating for months, years or decades, there are ways to not only survive but thrive during the holidays. The following tips derive from courageous women who know firsthand what it’s like to accomplish the seemingly improbable: not allowing an eating disorder to zap the joy and ease from the holiday season. While the suggestions vary in specifics, they share a common thread worth adding to your holiday to-do list: prioritizing self-care.

Know that you’re not alone—not really. The contrast of lively festivities and your inner-struggle can prompt loneliness, but it doesn’t have to. “It might sound silly,” said Kelly M., a psychology major at the University of California, Berkley, “but just knowing that there are so many others out there dealing with these issues helps me feel less alone and even a little courageous.” She said that rather than simply eating for herself, she imagines she’s taking bites for others enduring similar struggles. “If I can do it,” she encourages others, “you can, too.”

Confide in a supportive loved one. Little makes personal battles more difficult than bottling them up inside. To preempt such angst, Mariana J., a stay-at-home mom in Richfield, Minnesota, discusses her feelings with a girlfriend before holiday meals. “We go for a walk together and she just listens and encourages me,” she said. “Then if I have a freakout moment during a get-together, I text her an SOS.” Doing so eases tension, she said, turning sadness into inspiration and, often, laughter.

Know and honor your limits. “I had to learn that self-care sometimes means bowing out of an activity,” said Jill F., a high school teacher in Los Angeles. “Nowadays, I can go most anywhere and feel un-phased, but for years, I said ‘no’ to gatherings I knew I couldn’t handle and made alternate plans to see the attendees.” If saying ‘no’ means saying ‘yes’ to your wellbeing, give yourself permission to do so. If you’re on the fence regarding a situation, discuss your dilemma with your therapist or a loved one who holds your best interests at heart.

Challenge yourself, baby-step style. Holing yourself up alone to avoid food excesses or emotional triggers can be tempting during the holidays, but you won’t likely heal or grow if you don’t challenge yourself at all. Consider small, gentle challenges, says Riyanna M., a Seattle-based clinical psychologist who overcame an eating disorder in her youth. “If a huge party seems scary, host a smaller-scale event with foods you feel comfortable around,” she said, “or make a point of enjoying a portion of a food you love but normally won’t allow yourself.” You’ll know whether a step is ideal, she explained, if it seems more doable and appealing than intimidating.

Focus where it counts. Saying, “Don’t think about food or your eating disorder!” is a bit like telling someone standing in a blizzard to ignore the cold. That said, you can make efforts to focus on the aspects of the holiday season you find beautiful. When I was struggling with anorexia, I found that seeking opportunities to help others with tasks, such as wrapping gifts or running errands, shifted my moods toward the positive. Similar benefits derived from keeping a gratitude journal. It’s important to remember that no matter how dark your world may feel at times, there is brightness to behold. The more you embrace it, the more you’ll likely draw in.

If you’re struggling and don’t know where to turn, reach out. Contact NEDA’s [or one in your own country] confidential helpline at 1-800-931-2237 for compassionate support and guidance.

NEDA

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 Post subject: Re: Holiday Survival (Even Enjoyment!) Tips
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:32 am 
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Quote:
TIPS FOR STAYING ON THE EATING DISORDER RECOVERY TRACK THROUGHOUT THE HOLIDAY

By Cristin Runfola
November 25, 2013

For individuals recovering from eating disorders, an all too familiar, yet unwelcome fear can arise as thoughts about holiday eating, weight, and social gatherings near. Recollections of past holidays that were fraught with triggers and slips, can also bring up painful memories and worries about staying healthy while sharing precious time with friends and family. These very thoughts may result in feelings of isolation, anxiety, defeat, and even despair. As one individual wrote, “You are forced to sit and face distressing thoughts and emotions [while] surrounded by people who can enjoy the food and company without a second thought. Not only are you struggling with the disordered thoughts, but you’re then struggling with struggling.”

Yet, I have the pleasure of knowing many remarkable men and women who have made it through the holidays successfully while recovering from an eating disorder. Most of these individuals learned what worked for them through trial and error, helpful professional guidance along the way. Recovery is never linear, but knowing that others have navigated the holidays successfully, provides those still suffering with renewed hope that they too can overcome the obsessive thoughts and worries that complicate this time of year. Drawing from the experiences of others, I have compiled a list of tips for maintaining recovery during the holidays while staying focused on the things in life that are most important to you.

1) Keep doing what you’re doing: Stick to what works!

One of the most important pieces of advice we can give is to continue following your meal plan.

“Having a game plan of what I was going to eat ahead of time was really important,” says a member of Embody Carolina who recently recovered from an eating disorder. She went on to state, “It helped me feel less overwhelmed by all of the food because I knew exactly what I needed to eat. It also helped keep me accountable [to] make sure that I ate everything I needed.”

Another tip, “Holidays can be unscheduled chaos and I found it best to stick to my meal plan and its snacks as closely as possible, which in turn helped keep my hunger/fullness cues on track.” -McCall Dempsey, Founder of Southern Smash


Maintaining a consistent eating schedule that has worked for you will help keep you on track. Make sure to eat all of your meals and snacks, without skipping any “in preparation for” a later anxiety-provoking meal or “to make up for” a previous snack or meal. Doing so may set you up for a binge, making it more challenging to stop eating the next time you’re faced with food. Switch it up by alternating between food situations that are “safe” and ones that are “challenging.” For example, if you are going to your grandma’s house for dessert, a “challenging” snack that evokes anxiety, consume a typical dinner beforehand that is within your meal plan and feels familiar and “safe.” Depending on your place in recovery, prepare in advance for how you’ll manage the incorporation of new foods or experiences into your day, such as having dinner in someone else’s home. Develop a realistic plan that has a high likelihood of working for you. And, remember, balance, structure, and flexibility are key!

For more tips on healthy eating during the holidays, read below posts by CEED dietitian, Laurie Conteh:

A serving of tips for healthy and happy eating by Laurie Conteh, RD

2) Don’t do it on your own: Reach out for support.

Start conversations early! Before you leave for the holidays, spend some time talking with a supportive loved one or friend about how you’re feeling. Develop a plan for how the people around you can support you when you’re struggling, and enlist their help in brainstorming strategies for managing distressing thoughts and feelings during holidays. Some of the most brilliant ideas come from our loved ones, who have a vested interest in keeping us healthy and can provide an objective view on the situation. Here are some other ways that people in recovery have relied on their support systems during the holidays:

“I talked through emotions and anxiety in private with my husband. This allowed him to know how to best support me when we were in the midst of family chaos. And usually that support just meant standing by my side. Sometimes just knowing someone is by your side is all the support you need.” –McCall Dempsey

“Reaching out to allies ahead of time was one of the best things I did for myself. I let the people closest to me know why the holiday was hard, and gave them ideas ahead of time (when I was in a good mental state) about what strategies were helpful to me. Last year, I was surprised by a text message from a friend saying simply, “I know Thanksgiving can be hard: Know that I love you.” It meant the world.” -Colleen Daly

“My partner knew that I would have urges to exercise over break, so he put a post-it note on our treadmill that said, “Step away from the treadmill.” It worked.” –Anonymous male

“Our family has buffet-style Thanksgiving dinners, which is hard for me because I’m tempted to binge. I asked my cousin, whom I am really close with, to prepare my plate and eat with me in a room away from the food. He was happy to do so, and I was able to get through the meal okay.” –Anonymous female

“When I was feeling anxious, I asked my partner to go on a walk with me.” –Anonymous female
“I took my most body-confident, fashion-forward friend with me shopping for a new holiday outfit. I hated trying on new clothes, but her enthusiasm and love for designing outfits had been infectious in the past. We changed together and, in the dressing room, she stripped down easily and flaunted new outfits, owning her body and modeling for me a confidence that I hoped to achieve. She was also an incredible story-teller, and helped get my mind off things when needed.” –Anonymous female


One of the most powerful motivators in recovery can be your family and friends. They usually want to be there for you, but just don’t know how. Pick and choose whom you talk to and the role they play in your recovery wisely. Then, take a leap of faith and let them in. Knowing that it’s not just you fighting against the eating disorder can provide you with the strength you need to move forward when things get tough.

3) Direct the conversation! Handle unwelcomed comments.

No matter how brilliant our family and friends, we live in a weight-obsessed world, where dieting and appearance are topics that easily seep into daily conversation. Comments about appearance are usually the first we hear after reuniting with someone who we haven’t seen in awhile. “Wow, you look great! Have you lost weight?” “Have you been working out?” “You’re looking healthier.” “What do you do to stay so skinny?” “You’ve really been eating more, huh!?” “You’re like me, when you gain weight, you can see it in your face.” Then there are the comments about food and dieting. “I’ve been eating really clean the last week so I can gorge on Thanksgiving food.” “Ugh, I shouldn’t have eaten that second slice of pumpkin pie, I’m already fat.” “After break, I’m going to eat super healthy and lean down; you should have seen my muscles before, I had a six pack.” These comments can be unsettling for many, but for those with an eating disorder, they can be especially distressing. There are three things you can do to navigate these comments: 1) prevent them, 2) divert conversation, and 3) call them out.

Prevent them! Talk with the people you’ll be around in advance and let them know what these types of comments are unhelpful. Ask them kindly to refrain from making triggering comments when they are around you in order to help support your recovery. Not sure what to say? Here is an example:

“Hey mom! I’ve been working really hard on recovery, and I’m feeling a little anxious about heading home for the holidays. To help me continue eating well, it would be really helpful for us not to talk about dieting when we’re eating. Instead, can you help me think about something else, maybe tell me about your new work project? What do you think?”

Divert conversation! When a comment is made, strategically change the topic of conversation. Develop a list of conversation starters beforehand so you’re prepared and not caught off guard. An example:

Friend says, “You’re so lucky, your legs are so thin!”
Your response, “Oh…I completely forgot to tell you about this TV show that I just started watching and love, and think you will too! I know you’re all about powerful, independent women so we have to watch it together. Have you seen Scandal?”


Call them out! If someone makes a comment that’s triggering or not in line with recovery-oriented goals, feel free to call them out on it. Comments can be made unconsciously, and bringing awareness to them may be all you need to make them stop. Here are some suggestions for what to say, which will depend on your personality and relationship with the person:

“Wow, we just spent 5 minutes talking about dieting. I am feeling like that conversation is pulling me into eating disorder thoughts. We better change the topic ASAP.”

“It is upsetting for me to hear that you feel guilty after eating. That’s something I’m working on not feeling, especially as I’ve learned that there really are no “bad” foods. Can we help each other not say these things? ”

“Are you really calling yourself fat? You know I have an eating disorder – that’s really not helpful for my recovery.”

Or if all polite and respectful attempts fail and you’re just not getting through, “Dude, STOP! I’m not engaging in this conversation with you!” And get to higher ground with another conversation partner!


In a previous blog post, Dr. Cynthia Bulik wrote, ‘“The important thing is that you navigate the waters to have conversations with each other that are productive and enjoyable and don’t immediately catapult you back into the old roles that you had before you left home. This is not automatic. It takes practice and some trial and error to develop new and more mature communication styles.”

4) Remember your values and live them fully

Take a few minutes to identify your personal values. Tweet them, text them, and write them down in big bold letters on a piece of paper to take with you wherever you go during the holidays. Develop a plan for living these values daily throughout the holiday break. This scheduling will provide structure to your day and make certain you take time for the good stuff. For example, if you value family, you might decide to protect an hour in your day to spend time enjoying conversation over tea with a family member. Or, if you value generosity, you may wish to spend some time each day engaging in a generous act, like driving your brother to his soccer game, buying a stranger coffee, or donating to a local charity. Filling your schedule with positive activities that warm your heart will leave less room for eating disorder thoughts and behaviors to creep in.

If the eating disorder presents, take some time to consider whether the eating disorder behaviors are in line with your values. Usually they are not. With this knowledge, in the moment, when an eating disorder thought pops up, you can take a moment to step back and think of a value-driven behavior. For example, if you are eating lunch with a friend who you haven’t seen in 3 years, and start having anxious thoughts about the food, remind yourself of an important value, such as attentiveness, and change your behavior to be in line with this value (e.g., listen attentively to your friend talking). By engaging in value-based behaviors, you can redirect thoughts away from the eating disorder and focus on things that are most important to you.

Colleen Daly, eating disorder advocate, with a personal history of an eating disorder, did just this during her recovery. She says, “Before I ate, I took a deep breath, entered a mindful state, and became thankful for the gifts I had – including a strong system of support, nourishing my mind, body and spirit, and recovery.”

5) Be compassionate with yourself and others

Holidays can be a stressful time for everyone. Most of us are trying to do the best that we can at a time of the year that can feel chaotic. It is an important time to practice compassion for yourself and those around you. Some important recovery tips to remember:

Practice acceptance! McCall Dempsey says, “No matter where you are on your recovery journey, holidays can often bring up anxiety and sad memories. Accept that these feelings and thoughts [might be] there. Do not try to shove them away because ‘you should not feel this or that’…Saying we should not feel a certain way only causes the anxiety to go up, up, up. I find that accepting my feelings, being in the moment and being gentle with myself are a few of recovery’s greatest gifts.” Well said!

Expect a rocky journey, with twists and turns. No recovery is straight forward, so expect that your plan might not go perfectly. Have compassion for yourself after slips. Rather than beating yourself up over them, embrace the digressions as learning experiences and focus on helping yourself get back on track.

Schedule ‘me’ time. Taking time for yourself is a must. One patient states, “Setting aside some quiet time for myself throughout the day was really helpful. Making sure to take care of myself and give myself some time to recharge helps kept me from becoming overwhelmed and exhausted and let me focus more on enjoying time with my friends and family.”

Give others a break. If someone says or does something that’s out of line or unhelpful, consider giving them a break too.

Notice the good stuff! Focus on the things that have gone well, and reward yourself for the small steps forward. Make a point to acknowledge and thank your friends and family when their support is effective. Focusing on all your successes will remind you and your loved ones of what’s going well, which will increase everyone’s motivation to push forward.

Holidays are a time for honoring and spending time with the family members and friends most important to us. The eating disorder can be an unwanted guest, inserting itself into situations when you least expect. Preparing ahead of time for how you can manage the eating disorder may help keep it at bay. We encourage those of you in recovery to take some time before the holidays to reflect on your recovery goals, the important things in your life, and a to develop a realistic plan to stay healthy and happy. We at CEED wish you all safe travels and a lovely holiday break.

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 Post subject: Re: Holiday Survival (Even Enjoyment!) Tips
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:38 am 
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While this post is written specifically in the context of managing holiday meals while being the parent of a child with an eating disorder, many of the ideas are also applicable to those of you supporting an older loved one or friend with an eating disorder who may be eating with you.

Quote:
PLANNING, FLEXIBILITY, AND BALANCE: FAMILIES, ANOREXIA, AND THE HOLIDAYS
By Maureen Dymek-Valentine
November 22, 2012

Many parents have told me that battling an eating disorder in their child is one of the biggest challenges they face over the course of their time as parents. Add the holidays to the mix and you can have a recipe for serious stress … for both kids and parents. Many kids and adolescents with eating disorders find the holidays very triggering – they are often exquisitely sensitive to celebrations centered around food, can interpret big meals with rich entrees and elaborate desserts as extremely threatening, and may feel overwhelmed by less structured days away from school and predictable activities. Not to mention traveling, near and far, to relatives homes — or to host family and friends in their own homes. Stresses for parents also abound. Seeing extended family when your child has an eating disorder can lead to unhelpful and sometimes judgmental comments by others. Travel, visitors, time off from work, shopping, high expectations can all lead to a lot of stress. In the hopes of protecting their children, parents may question past family traditions, menus, and social activities. It is important for parents to be sensitive to their children’s triggers, but this doesn’t mean avoiding much loved traditions because they may be challenging. As with non-holiday times, it is important to find a balance between challenges and safe zones for your child.

So how do you get through it? I have found three key concepts to be central to getting through the holidays without making things worse: (1) planning, (2) flexibility, and (3) balance. Many kids with eating disorders (and kids without eating disorders, for that matter) do best when they know what to expect. A week or two ahead of time it might be helpful to sit down as family and plan your days. What activities will you be doing on which days? For how long? With whom and where? Help your child anticipate and prepare for what will come. Will people make comments about her/his appearance? How can you and your child respond? Would it be better to talk to extended family members ahead of time, or would it be best to just see what happens? What are some positive time-out activities you and your child can have available when things feel too much?

Planning is also important around meals. When, what, where, and with whom will you be eating? Will you, as parents, be in control of the menus, or will someone else? If it is someone else, it will likely be helpful to have some adult discussions about the menu ahead of time. Before the meals occur, it is important for parents to agree on the expectations of what and how much your child should consume. Remember, just because it is the holidays, your expectation that your child receive adequate nourishment is still non-negotiable. Talk ahead of time about how you will handle it if your child is not successful? Most parents find it best to have a plan for this, before finding yourself in the midst of it.

So with all this talk about planning…what about flexibility and balance? As you know, mealtimes for people with eating disorders can be quite rigid, with strict preferences around eating at the same time each day, the same types of foods, etc. All this can be shaken up around the holidays. The main meal might be at 3 pm, for example, not 6 pm or noon. Instead of having immediate family around the table, there may be many other less familiar faces present. Instead of the typical foods that a family prepares, there might be a host of new tastes, textures, options and a greater amounts of food on the table. This is where flexibility and balance come in. If your child is uncomfortable with the concept of eating at 3 pm, scared of the menu, and tense about the thought of eating in front of many others, what can you do? The answer will look different for different families. For one family it might work best to decide to eating at 3 pm with the extended family, but allowing the meal itself to be “safer” (but of course enough). For another family, it might work best to eat separate from others, but to expect that your child partake in several holiday challenge foods.

While holidays can be stressful, they can still be successful. With preparation, lots of communication, and the ability to be flexible your family can still find joy in the holidays. In the end it will be important not to allow the eating disorder to run roughshod over your family traditions — but it’s also important not to expect too much adaptation from your child, depending on where she/he is in recovery. We at the UNC Eating Disorders Program wish all families the best during this holiday season.

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 Post subject: Re: Holiday Survival (Even Enjoyment!) Tips
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:43 am 
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Quote:
Eating Disorders And Holidays: Tips For Enjoying Get-Togethers
By Jacqueline Marshall
November 22, 2013

Although you may have much to be thankful for, holiday celebrations can mean increased levels of anxiety and stress if you are struggling with an eating disorder.

With a bit of planning, you can reduce your discomfort and make the celebration more enjoyable. Here are a few tips to help you have the best possible day.

Best-Possible-Day Tips

1. Ask someone to act as your support person during the holiday gathering. This individual can help distract you should there be a triggering situation or conversation. He or she might also help steer the dinner conversation away from the subjects of weight, food and how much people are or are not eating. When you need a reassuring glance, your support person can provide it.

2. Decide ahead of time how to give yourself a break from the festivities. You might plan on taking a walk, hiding out for 20 minutes in a quiet bedroom, or slipping out to the garage for a phone chat with a friend. Maybe the family dog would enjoy a game of fetch in the backyard.

3.Be sure to have your bag of tricks with you – those items that you know can help you cope in stressful situations. Bring that inspiring book of quotes or artwork, your journal, a hand-held game, essential oils, your iPod, noise-reduction headphones or anything else that helps you relax and soothe yourself.

4. This might be the year to tell people ahead of time that it is not OK to discuss weight or food issues with you or around you, and that comments concerning your eating habits – or anyone else’s – are forbidden.

5. If you will be at a friend or relative’s home and are especially anxious about the day, have an escape plan. If possible, drive yourself there so you can leave when you wish, or bring the means to take a cab home if necessary. Another option is to ask your support person if he or she would be willing to drive you home early if you feel you must leave.

6. Have some conversation questions prepared ahead of time, such as, "Uncle Joe, what’s your favorite Thanksgiving memory?" Or, "Cousin Jean, what five things are you the most grateful for this year?"

7. Have a statement prepared to use if someone starts asking you about your weight or eating disorder, such as, "I only discuss that with my doctor and nutritionist but I appreciate your concern.”

8. Remind yourself to breathe, and stay focused on what you are thankful for instead of the day’s possible or probable irritations. Every time you notice yourself getting annoyed or upset, affirm your gratitude for something that you treasure. It may not be easy, but it will help.

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 Post subject: Re: Holiday Survival (Even Enjoyment!) Tips
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:47 am 
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Thanksgiving With an Eating Disorder: How to Make it Easier
By Sunny Gold
November 10, 2011

"Oh my God, I am so full!" It's a refrain that will be heard countless times around the country today as we sit around tables with friends and family. Sure, Thanksgiving is about being grateful, and it's about the harvest, and the history of our nation. But really, it's about the food. (Even Google's doodles are just pictures of victuals with links to Ina Garten recipes this year!) In American culture--as in so many others--it's natural and normal to celebrate with edibles. Food is homey, comforting, delicious, and fun. Unless you're one of the estimated 10 million Americans fighting an eating disorder, that is. Then food, and this whole holiday, can be scary, disturbing, and painful.

"We start prepping people [we treat for eating disorders] for Thanksgiving about a month ahead of time," says Cynthia M. Bulik, Ph.D., director of the University of North Carolina Eating Disorders Program and author of Crave: Why You Binge Eat and How to Stop. "Being around so much food is like someone with acrophobia leaning off the Empire State Building. It is being surrounded by your biggest fear for an entire day. For someone with anorexia it's the fear of being expected to eat and enjoy it. For someone with bulimia or binge eating disorder it is being able to control urges to binge or purge when you're completely surrounded by trigggers."

When I was in the throes of binge eating disorder in my late teens and early twenties, Turkey Day was always time of incredible mixed emotion. Along with the excitement and fun of seeing family and eating some truly great food (Mmm, Mom's Dutch apple pie), came intense body image trouble and a fixation on trying to be "good" this year. "Comments about who is eating what, who has seconds, who is a good eater and who is picky, who likes what and who doesn't like certain things--just the constant focus can be absolutely overwhelming and anxiety provoking," says Bulik.

Psychologist Michael D. Lukens, Ph.D., takes it even further: "The food and the feasting are literally the focus for the holiday gathering itself, and to make matters worse, overindulgence is not only allowed it's really actually encouraged," says Lukens, who has worked one-on-one with addicts and binge eaters in South Florida for more than 20 years. "If everyone says overdoing it an OK thing, who are you to show restraint and risk raining on everyone else's parade? The conscience can get pretty slippery around the holidays, and Thanksgiving kicks off the season, so it's kind of a make it or break it point for many of us. If we 'fall' on Thanksgiving the whole holiday season can so easily turn into a whole month of acting out."

That's how it used to be for Chevese Turner, founder and CEO of the Binge Eating Disorder Association: "During my darkest days as a binge eater I recall eating my way through the holidays, which triggered negative emotions and plenty of depression," she says. "I dealt with it by cycling through bouts of bingeing and then dieting, which only made me feel more hopeless."

Of course, the issues this holiday brings up aren't just about the stuffing and pumpkin pie. Eating disorders aren't necessarily about food at all: They are mental disorders that research shows are firmly rooted in genetics and biology--scientists have even pinpointed certain genes that they think may contribute to anorexia and bingeing behaviors. Personality quirks like perfectionism and low self-esteem, childhood trauma and family dynamics are key in the development of these disorders, too.

Speaking of family: "If dysfunctional family issues are part of what stirred up the disordered eating, [at Thanksgiving] you're getting together--or intentionally not getting together--with those same 'well intentioned but toxic' relatives," says Lukens. "This means you'll have that much more emotional turmoil driving the cravings [to restrict or overeat]. Your mother's subtle criticisms, your brother's contempt, your father's drinking problem--they are all once more right in your face; or, even if you're not physically getting together with family the painful memories have a tendency to float into your mind at this time of year."

So, what can someone dealing with an eating disorder do to feel less scared and more present this holiday?

Get Support

"If you have someone who understands you in your family or friendship circle, talk with them ahead of time and get their support throughout the day," says Bulik. "Use them as a 'safe person' if you need to take some time out, catch some fresh air, or process something that happened that bothered you." Free eating disorder support groups like Eating Disorders Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous and Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous usually have increased numbers of meetings and events during this time of year and welcome newcomers. Online support sites like my site, HealthyGirl.org, and Something Fishy can be very helpful, too.

Plan in Advance

"Don't skip breakfast to 'make it easier' to get through Thanksgiving dinner," says Bulik. "As much as possible stick to your regular eating plan. Skipping breakfast or lunch will make it much harder to get through dinner--regardless of which eating disorder you have. Also allow your plan to dictate what you eat not other people's comments." Lukens agrees: "I highly recommend you go armed with a game plan, don't just wing it," he says. "For instance, you might decide to avoid the pre-meal snacks and during dinner make deliberate choices in terms of portion size, second helpings, etc."

Try Not to Listen to Other People's Diet/"Fat" Talk

"At our last mindful meal group, one participant said there was a lot of diet-talk around the Thanksgiving table in her house because most were overeating and trying to compensate by talking about weight, dieting, and remorse," says Amy Jaffe, R.D., a nutritional therapist at Miami Counseling Center in Florida. "People's weights and bodies were discussed in a cavalier manner. In years past, she had succumbed to the cycle of restricting in front of people at the meal then bingeing in private after everyone left." It's important to set boundaries and remind yourself that other people's issues with food and with their bodies are not your own.

Forget the "All or Nothing" Mindset

"Depriving yourself of special holiday foods or feeling guilty over a particular food choice is not helpful," says Jaffe. "Deprivation and guilt sabotage the holiday spirit."

Remember the Reason for the Season

"Even though it seems on the surface that Thanksgiving is all about food, try to remember what it is really all about," says Bulik. "If there is something or someone in your life that you are thankful for, focus on that rather than the turkey and the trimmings."

Finally, a bit of advice from someone who's been there: "Honor your journey by eating the foods you want, listening to your body's cues, avoid engaging in 'fat talk,' and keeping your support systems close-at-hand," says Turner. "The food you eat and your size should not define you, your worth, or your ability to enjoy the holidays." Now, go and have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving!

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 Post subject: Re: Holiday Survival (Even Enjoyment!) Tips
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:50 am 
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Keeping Up With Recovery Over the Holidays
By Matt Wetsel
November 23, 2013

Holidays. While most people look forward to the time off, seeing family and friends, and all the delicious food that usually comes with them, if you’re in recovery, that last one can be quite the challenge. It’s something I struggled with a lot while I was still in recovery, so I thought I’d share some of the things that got me through difficult times.

Keep in mind, these are things that worked for me. Recovery is a very personal process and any kind of suggestions or advice will need to be fine-tuned to meet your own needs. As they said so often in the groups I attended, take what is useful, and leave the rest.

1. Psyche Yourself Up

If there are going to be a lot of people for lunch or dinner wherever you spend your holidays, then that means you need to prepare yourself so you aren’t caught off guard by the things people might say or do.

Holidays often mean seeing family members you haven’t seen in a long time, and in our image-focused, weight-obsessed culture, one of the first things people comment on is appearances.

People who don’t know you have an eating disorder might say something like, “You look so good! Have you lost weight?” not realizing that it’s actually a problem and is nothing to be complimenting or celebrating. When I was in recovery, sometimes even being told I looked healthy would get filtered through the anorexic voice in my head and I would hear something closer to, “You’ve gained weight and they can tell!”

The way I worked through either version of this situation was to remind myself that whatever people had to say, they were trying to be friendly and were well-intentioned. People who have never had an eating disorder may never fully understand what it’s like, so internalizing a well-intentioned greeting or attempt at a compliment doesn’t do anyone any favors.

Of course, even if you do psych yourself up for it, that doesn’t mean you won’t need additional support. That’s why the second tip is…

2. Recruit An Ally

This was never something I really needed for holidays, but I do have a perfect example of this. In 2004, I went on a trip to New York as a part of Alternative Spring Break when I was an undergraduate. I was still very early in my recovery, and the trip involved traveling with nine other students. We stayed in a hostel, worked in clothing banks and soup kitchens all day, and then we took turns cooking dinner for the group most nights.

In other words, it was terrifying.

After a few days, I realized if I didn’t speak up for myself, I was going to have a really difficult time. I asked someone on the trip if we could talk privately, and when we had the chance she and I lagged behind the group. I told her I was in recovery from an eating disorder, and that I couldn’t always put it into words but sometimes I was just overwhelmed by food. I assured her I intended to eat and take care of myself, but that sometimes I might need to get my own food or do things separate from the group. I was fortunate that she was so understanding. For the rest of the trip all I had to do was walk over to her and tell her I was feeling anxious or freaking out, and she would walk outside with me or keep me company. Sometimes, people would start talking a lot about weight or food, and if she noticed I was trying to change the subject, she would chime in and help redirect the conversation.

The same thing can be done for the holidays. Maybe you have a sibling, a cousin, or an aunt who you can trust to be understanding with these things. Reaching out to someone in advance and just knowing that they’re in tune with the fact that a big Thanksgiving dinner is a challenge can help ease some of the tension.

Having a friend to text or call can be just as good. Letting a trusted friend know you’ll need support and to ask if they can keep their phone handy can be a lifesaver. Sometimes I would call a friend and we would talk about anything but food – I just needed the distraction.

Maybe you don’t have someone like that in your family or who will be in attendance. If you have a friend to call, maybe they aren’t able to answer when you call. What do you do then?

3. Have a Backup Plan

Even if you recruit someone to help support you, they might not always be available the whole time, and there’s always a chance they won’t know exactly what to say or do. And that’s okay!

I always had a backup plan. Above all else, recovery to me was not optional, and I was firmly committed to not acting on urges to engage in disordered eating behavior. It’s a process and we don’t always succeed all of the time, but when we are in the moment and are feeling overwhelmed, that’s when it’s important to know what you’re going to do instead.

Eventually, that anxiety or stress or sense of discomfort passes. To facilitate that process, you can have any number of backup plans. When I was in recovery, sometimes being out to eat at a restaurant would be too much, but I didn’t want to draw a lot of attention to myself either.

Sometimes I would just say I had an important phone call to make and walk outside. Some fresh air along with some peace and quiet went a long way to helping myself calm down and get back to #1 – psyching myself up to go back inside, have a meal with my friends, and enjoy the company and food.

Other times, I needed the exact opposite of peace and quiet! If I had driven, sometimes I would go in my car, turn on the stereo, and blast the loudest, most energetic music I had to drown out my thoughts. If you have your headphones handy, they can work just as well. Even if you have to step into the bathroom, listening to a favorite song can help a lot. Both served the purpose of taking my mind to another place, refocus, and tell myself, “I can do this.”

4. Believe In Yourself

I frequently told myself “I can do this.” And if you’re reading this, then you should know – you can do this too! So much time with an eating disorder is spent engaging in negative self talk. Talking down to ourselves. Thinking we aren’t good enough, that no one understands or cares.

That’s why positive self talk can be such an important part of recovery. Maybe you don’t fully believe the positive things you say to yourself. It’s okay to doubt whether or not you actually can do recovery. It’s okay, because recovery is hard. That’s why we practice believing in ourselves even if we aren’t sure that we know something for certain. It may feel silly in the beginning, but is telling yourself you can do something any sillier than constantly telling yourself that you’re unattractive or incapable? I think not.

The truth is, the human body and spirit is incredibly resilient. Recovery is hard, in fact it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s also the most worthwhile. There’s no shame in having an eating disorder, and there’s no shame in reaching out to others for help.

...Until Eating Disorders Are No More

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