Tips for Enjoying Parties and Holiday Meals During Recovery

Now that summertime has come into full swing, parties and holidays may be popping up onto the calendar a lot more often. Whether you're in recovery from an eating disorder, or you've been struggling with food in some way, these events are likely stressful for you. Below are some tips and tricks to help ease the stress of these scenarios, and help you find ways to enjoy them!


1.  Identify your support system.


Choose a close friend or family member to help support you at the party. Let them know what you are going through and that you want their help.


2.  Allow your support system to help you.


Your friend or family member can encourage you if you are having a difficult time. They can help model what a positive relationship with food looks like at a party.


3.  Go into the meal with a plan.


Speak to your therapist and/or dietitian to make a plan prior to the meal if you have enough notice. A plan will make you feel like you’re in control, and although you cannot control everything, you will know how to respond if things get challenging.


4.  Stick to your regular eating schedule prior to the event.


Restricting prior to the event will make you feel even more stressed when it comes time to eating. Keep recovery in mind all day long.


5.  Know that all foods are OK to eat.


Remember that there is no such thing as “good” and “bad” foods. Life is about balance, and that goes for food too. If you’re having trouble picking which foods to eat, start off by choosing foods that fit each one of your exchanges on your meal plan and ask for support from your friend or family member.


6.  Remember that your eating disorder will lie to you.


Your ED will lie to you about the food, your body, and maybe even the people you are with. Use your coping skills and your support system to get through this.


7.  Do not follow any forms of social media that include diets, fitness, or weight loss during any time, but especially during this time!


Social media can be very detrimental depending on the pages that you follow. If you are following any diet, fitness, or weight loss sites or pages, then it is especially important that you do not engage with them at this time.


8.  Be kind and compassionate to yourself.


Remind yourself that you’re doing awesome. You’re challenging yourself. And, if you’re having a difficult time, that’s okay. Do not ignore your feelings. Practice self-care. Learn to say no if you need to.


9.  Be prepared and have a plan for any unwanted comments.


Hopefully this doesn’t happen, but it’s important to prepare for it in case it does. For example, a distant aunt may make a comment about your appearance or an acquaintance may go on and on about a new diet that she’s on. Know that you are allowed to set boundaries with these people and tell them that they’re making you uncomfortable. If you don’t want to be blunt, you could divert the conversation to another topic. Or, you could simply walk away, find that friend/family member you came with and talk through it with them.


10. Focus on why you’re really there.


Because the food is such a stressor, it may seem like the function is all about the burgers and hotdogs. But let yourself reframe those thoughts. What are you really there for? I guarantee it’s for the socializing, spending time with friends and family, and making memories.

Kelly Miller