I received this holiday letter from Carolyn Costin, the founder of Monte Nido Eating Disorders Treatment Centers (Montenido.com). Her thoughtful words captured all that I want to say to my readers who struggle with food, weight, and finding a peaceful balance with exercise. Perhaps this will give you a few tips to enjoy the season and not dread it. Nancy
Carolyn wrote: If you suffer from an eating disorder it is important to take stock of how you can make the holidays meaningful for you. Aside from getting help from others on how you can handle all the food, you can turn this season into a time when you learn more about the seasons and the original reason for celebration during these times. For example, learn about the original reasons for the celebration of the fall harvest and winter solstice.
At this time of year I offer these useful tips in hopes they can make your holidays better:
Tip # 1: Don’t focus on the food. Make a list of all the other things that you can pay attention to at holiday parties or family gatherings such as, seeing old friends, singing together, decorating things, making gifts.
Tip # 2: Put things in perspective.
- Remember that a holiday party, and the holiday gatherings in general, are really just a short period of time. There is an end in sight.
- Be aware that things do not have to be perfect
- Even if you feel like you make mistakes, over eat or don’t handle things well, you can use these incidents as lessons to learn from.
Tip # 3: Balance is key.
- There are no “bad” foods, just bad eating habits.
- Don’t deny yourself, but don’t ignore body signals such as fullness.
- Plan to indulge some. Take some risks, eat things you usually don’t “allow” yourself to, but take small steps in doing so.
- Take/make the time for fun activities, invite friends to decorate, go to the tree farm, or go caroling.
- Bake with your kids or friends and bring the goods to homeless shelters or others who are need.
Tip # 4: Plan ahead.
- If you are going to attend a party, plan your food accordingly if you know it will be a problem, for example you might be able to skip your afternoon snack and have dessert at a party instead. If you are in treatment be sure to check this out with your dietitian or therapist.
- Plan special time for yourself to “get away” from the holiday stress. Get a manicure, go to the park, take a bubble bath.
Tip # 5: Be on the offense not the defense.
- If your relatives are coming to you, you can be responsible for having food that you feel comfortable with and you can plan activities.
- Let the people you love know what a gift they are to you already.
- Instead of going commercial, make your own cards.
- Spend time spreading good will and showering people with love.
These tips won’t ensure that there will be no problems or that your holidays will be exactly as you would like, but they can help things be more enjoyable and less stressful. It’s important to figure out what works for you and to remember that you have a part in making your holiday all that it can and is supposed to be.
Carolyn and all of us at Monte Nido