How To Prepare For The Holidays When You're Recovering From An Eating Disorder

How to prepare for the holidays when you're recovering from an eating disorder.

Your Stronger Than Your ED

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Family comes together, arguments are forgotten, gifts are exchanged and love is shown endlessly.

You know what else is endless? The amount of food (oh so delicious food) and dessert that are tied into holiday traditions.

Just like normal day life, food is unavoidable (being that it’s what fuels us and all) but around the holidays, the portions are bigger, the calories are higher and everyone seems to forget that you’re still in recovery from your eating disorder.

Trust me, if anyone has been in the worst possible ‘holiday food showdown’ - it has to be me.

Right before Christmas 2011, I hit rock bottom. My eating disorder was going to kill me if I didn’t receive treatment soon and my parents told me that I was going to be hospitalized right after the new year. Merry fucking Christmas, Marissa.

Although I knew I needed (and secretly wanted) to be hospitalized, it didn’t stop the intrusive thoughts from ruining what could have been a great family holiday.

Clearly 2011 was  a wash for me, but it did allow me to see how I needed to prepare myself for all upcoming holidays. Let’s hope you haven’t had a 2011 Christmas experience yet and I can get you on the right track for enjoying the holidays ahead!

First things first, you need to mentally prep yourself.

Take at least 15 minutes out of your day to fully acknowledge the fact that your normal routines will be altered in the upcoming weeks. Grab a journal and just write all the thoughts, all the fears, and all the situations possibly sending you into relapse if you’re not consciously aware that food is not the enemy.

Write as fast as you can and just get it all out. Let your words sit with you for a minute to let the anxiety and un-comfort leave your body.

Now look back at what you wrote.

Chance are it looks similar to this.

You probably talked yourself out of some scenarios that you talked yourself into. If you’re anything like me, you cursed A LOT. But most importantly, you’re one step closer to being able to exist during the holidays.

Who’s cooking, good looking?

The holidays mean you’re getting together with family, am I right? Does that mean you’re going to someone else’s house or are you the family chef? Regardless - I want you to do some cooking!

Going to someone else’s house? Bring a healthy dish (something that you know can be a safe food if things start to fall apart - WHICH THEY WON’T!) over as a ‘present’ to the hostess.  Your kind gesture will not only be thanked and seen as a holiday gift, but most likely it will also relieve the hostess of a little anxiety. (You might not know it, but if you’re family is respectful there is a good chance there was talk of what ‘Marissa could or would’ eat.) **Feel free to insert your name in place of mine (;

Are you the hostess with the mostest this year? Then you own the floor! Sometimes cooking can trigger anxiety and setbacks when you know that you will be eating the meal, so again, just prepare a special ‘safe’ meal that you can always have as a backup plan.

Let’s chat! ….How about no.

Ahhh family. The kind you see once, maybe twice a year, (or three depending on if someone in the family died) they always want to know WHAT’S NEW.

You totally just read that in your crazy aunt’s voice didn’t you?

It’s almost inevitable that your family will bring up your eating disorder.

Depending on the level of awareness they have on mental illness, you’re almost also guaranteed a few horrible comments that truly mean no harm.

You’re going to get, “Look at you! You look so much better now that you’ve put on a few pounds.”

Get ready for, “So how much did you miss eating your grandma’s famous cookies. I’d die before I gave those up!”

Oh and my personal favorites, the “Any dieting advice? I’m trying to lose some weight too now.” and the “Whoa! look at that plate you got there! You’ve really gotten your appetite back, haven’t you!”.

Ignorance isn’t always bliss.

I know how triggering all of those statements can be and I strongly recommend that you remind yourself that they are coming from a place of ignorance and are unknowingly causing you pain while they are trying to show you love.

If you’re not ready to handle all the family chit-chat which you seem to be the main topic of, have your parents or significant other remind the other members of your family to keep the topics off of you, your past and your recovery.

Some comments will always slip out from dear old grandpa, but you can’t let someone else’s words (especially someone who loves you and just doesn’t understand) contaminate your mind. You’re stronger than that.

Your Stronger Than Your ED

Enter your email below to receive my personal toolkit for looking within yourself.
Use my toolkit for self-reflection, which helps you to find the answers you've been searching for PLUS it aligns you with your souls purpose.


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Hell, you’re stronger than any curve balls thrown your way.

You already won this life or death battle with an eating disorder and nothing could have been harder than that.

Go enjoy the holidays, I’m sure you will do just fine!

Marissa Pane

New York