Managing Eating Disorders during the Holidays

By: Suzanne Zaugg

Holidays are a described as being, “the most wonderful time of year” filled with joy and love, it is a time when families to come together. Most, people are gathered around in the season of giving celebrating their holiday cheer, while, people with mental health issues, struggle more throughout the holiday season. According to the American Psychological Association, 38% of people tend to feel their stress increase during the holiday season, which can lead to physical and mental health disorders, such as eating disorders. Signs of an eating disorder include feeling stressed around food, fearful of weight gain, guilt after eating, and missing events that are food focused. These signs tend to increase through the holiday season, so it is important to keep an eye out if you or a loved one start to experience these or similar symptoms. Learning ways to manage relationships with food is a great way to feel better through the holidays, for those who have eating disorders.

Strategies to get through the holiday season:

  1. Show self-compassion. Give yourself compassion through the difficult holiday season.
  2. Ask for help. Find a family member or friend as a support person during meal times.
  3. Have a holiday coping plan. Plan out your “fear” foods (ones that make you feel stressed and anxious) and favorite foods, and then give yourself permission to eat them.
  4. Remind yourself that food provides nutrient value. Holiday foods connect us with culture, heritage, loved ones and traditions. Holiday foods are not considered “unhealthy”.
  5. Give yourself permission to feel satisfaction from eating.
  6. Set healthy boundaries. Choosing not to engage in diet talk or leaving a family function early are important ways to manage food anxiety.
  7. Practice self-care. Whether it is cuddling your pet, connecting with loved ones, or just taking time for yourself. Self-care is beneficial to your overall health.
  8. Take one day at a time. Make short term goals, which are easier to achieve and which will boost your overall mood, in order to make the most of gathering with loved ones.

By learning to understand and recognize the signs of an eating disorder, you can help the people in your life who are struggling.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for an eating disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York and New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


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