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10 Key Tips for Sticking to your Recovery Plan in the Holidays
For those of us who come from a background of struggle around food, I wanted to take a moment to talk about the triggers that come up for us during the Holiday Season.
There is so much pressure around being happy, wearing the right outfit, choosing or serving the right drink and of course around all the abundance of food. We’re encouraged constantly at this time to “Eat, Drink and Be Merry.” But for many of us, the Holidays are a hard time to do just that. The reality of such high expectations pushes buttons say nothing of the energy we expend preparing for these celebrations!
If only we could be connected to intuitive eating during these times! Honoring our bodies and their feelings; the sense of satiety and the reality of hunger. If only we knew how to say when enough is enough, without fear of offending our hosts. Somehow, the pressures of perfection can overshadow the gratitude and sense of happy, wholesome ‘coming together’ the holidays are meant to embody.
Here are a few things that help me to stay on track during my holidays.
1. Strive to be realistic with commitments. As much as I want to take care of others and accomplish everything and meet everyone else’ expectations, I don’t. I pare it all back so that I have breathing room.
2. Keep regular routines: my meditation, my morning exercise; these put me in the space to stay sane no matter what comes.
3. Maintain a routine of regular meals and supplements. Consistency is sanity! It helps us to not fall prey to old habits that lead us to binging. The more I adhere to the pattern and wisdom of regular and nutritional meals and supplements, the less likely I am to binge on holiday treats. I don’t find myself grasping around all the holiday goodies. It’s a pro-active ritual that works.
4. Continue to Journal. Sometimes we need to document the holiday insanity in order not to be overwhelmed by it. As a recovered anorexic, journaling has always been part of my healing. It helps me to get my emotions and concerns out of my body and into the tangible. It enables me to see clearly and to track any emotions that arise from the pressures of the Holiday madness.
5. Check in with a support team. Whether this is with a therapist or a support circle or just some close friends, those of us triggered by holidays and foods might find it beneficial to bookend a high intensity gathering with two phone calls, one before and one after. This is another pro-active measure to stay on track.
6. Find a way to give back with no expectations. Volunteer for an hour or two by collecting toys for tots or working at a shelter. It’ll allow you to be of service to others without feeling the immense pressure that comes with being in a family or work setting.
7. Let go of expectations about your body or about the idea of being the perfect hostess, the perfect mom or even the perfect guest. There is so much connection with expectations this time of year; anything that doesn’t live up to them sets us up for a let down, a melt down… or a crash. So we need realistic expectations both of ourselves and others, as well as of our wants and desires. There is no “perfect” anything. If we can be in the moment, in gratitude, how much more would we appreciate and enjoy ourselves and those around us?
8. Stay guilt free – so that when we do indulge we don’t beat ourselves up as a consequence. Indulging is okay. Take it in stride! Allow it and accept it. If we do allow ourselves that cake or pie or whatever we normally wouldn’t have, let it be! Don’t turn the joy into guilt. Own the choice and then move on.
9. Stay in the moment. Be mindful. All you have is today.
10. Give yourself permission to say “no” to treats, invitations and pressure. We don’t show love only by eating what others have made.