How to Get Through Thanksgiving in Eating Disorder Recovery

Thanksgiving table with food

If you are in recovery for an eating disorder, the approaching Thanksgiving holiday might have you feeling more stressed than usual. This is normal, as Thanksgiving is a time to reconnect with family over a traditional dinner. While this might sound enjoyable for the average person, it can bring up unwanted emotions and memories for someone with an eating disorder.

Fortunately, there are ways to get through the Thanksgiving holiday in one piece. Whether you’ve just completed eating disorder treatment in New Jersey, or you’ve been in recovery for many years, these tips are equally beneficial. 

Create a Plan 

Talk to your friends, family, therapist and dietician about the upcoming holiday. What do you plan to eat? Which home are you going to? How will you handle a family member being critical? 

Planning your holiday in advance will give you more confidence going into the day. You can pick an environment that you feel comfortable in, and plan your response for certain questions or comments. While you can’t prepare for everything, creating a plan will help you feel more in control. 

Build Your Support System 

Hopefully, your family has been a good source of support for you, and they will continue this at Thanksgiving. But if you feel your family hasn’t been supportive, lean on your friends and peer support groups. Have their numbers on hand in case you need to contact them, and share your fears with them. Knowing that you have a support system will hold you accountable for your choices. 

Avoid Triggering Conversations 

You can’t control others, so it’s a possibility that the conversation will veer off into triggering topics like politics, race, religion and even fat talk. We live in a world where society tells us that our bodies need to be constantly changed and improved upon to fit a certain body standard. For people struggling with an eating disorder, fat talk is especially hard to take

If the conversation turns to calories, weight loss goals and who has gained some extra pounds this year, remove yourself from the conversation. You can help out with the dishes, play with one of the kids or get some fresh air.  

Avoid Skipping Meals 

Maintain your regular meal plan over Thanksgiving weekend. People in recovery are often tempted to skip their meals in the days before Thanksgiving, but it’s not healthy for your metabolism, body or mental health. Follow your eating plan – skipping meals only increases the chances that you’ll binge eat. 

Focus on Gratitude 

Remind yourself of the true meaning of Thanksgiving. It’s a time to reconnect with friends and family over a shared meal, and show gratitude for the things you have. Not only will gratitude give you a positive mindset going into the holidays, but also it will help you build stronger relationships and relish good memories. You have a lot to be thankful for with your recovery! 

CTRLCare Behavioral Health offers eating disorder therapy in Princeton NJ. We know that the holidays can be a difficult time of year for people with eating disorders, and we are here to be part of the solution. Our treatment services are offered on an outpatient basis so they can accommodate any schedule. Contact our admissions department to learn more.