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Coping with an eating disorder during the holidays


The holidays can be tough when you have an eating disorder.

After all, most activities are centered around food--whether it's family dinners, cookie exchanges or festive cocktails with friends. This extreme exposure to food can often send those with eating disorders into a state of panic. In fact, experts say the stress can cause relapses and a significant increase in eating disorder patterns, thoughts and behaviors.

Marla Scanzello, director of dietary services at Eating Recovery Center, says that dealing with the holidays if you or someone in your family has an eating disorder requires some careful planning and consideration.

"Many patients struggle to accept when things don't go as planned, and they have difficulty realizing that one meal doesn't make or break their eating disorders recovery progress," Scanzello told the Huffington Post.

But not to worry: There are several ways to cope that can help you navigate the stressors of food-centric holiday gatherings.

Lighten your load

While it can be easy to get bogged down with too many commitments this time of year, try to keep your schedule from becoming overwhelming. Stress can trigger relapse, so make sure your recovery is the first priority, not catering to family and friends.

Be around healthy people

According to Kenneth L. Weiner, founding partner and Chief Executive Officer of Eating Recovery Center, it's a good idea to be selective about the company you keep this time of year. Avoid friends or family members who may be detrimental to your recovery.

Bring a friend

Weiner recommends bringing a trusted loved one or friend to holiday functions--someone who understands what you're going through and who can be a source of support if you need it. If things get overwhelming, take a walk with this person, talk about your feelings and try to regroup.

Work with a dietitian

If you already have access to a nutritionist or dietitian in your recovery program, utilize this person's expertise this time of year. A professional can help you plan meals and prep for stressful situations, like eating while traveling or selecting healthy options at a family dinner.

Focus on fun

Instead of focusing on the food aspect of the holidays, try to see this time as an opportunity to connect with loved ones, relax and create fond memories for the future. Bring a board game or some other type of activity you can do if you'd rather not stand around the appetizer table or dessert buffet. Keeping your mind engaged with something pleasurable and fun can help ease the stress.

Source: Huffington Post