10 tips to enjoy a recovery-focused holiday

It’s that time of year again. Pitfalls to your eating disorder lurk around every corner, whether it’s a plethora of holiday parties, cookies at the office, eggnog at the neighbors or grandma’s homemade fudge. Below are some tips to have a happy and healthy holiday season:

  1. Eat regularly throughout the day.  Avoid “saving” or “banking” your calories in order to indulge at holiday parties. Arriving famished to an event pretty much guarantees an evening of poor choices.
  2. Practice mindful eating habits. Eat slowly and take breaks. Remember, it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to let your brain know it’s full.
  3. Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep increases cravings for sugary “fixes”.  In addition, adequate rest enables you to manage holiday stressors and avoid emotional eating.
  4. Use portion control. Portioning your food can be a helpful strategy when faced with an abundance of foods.
  5. Control your environment. You are more likely to overeat or feel overwhelmed if you are socializing near the appetizer and treats. Involve a supportive person to help you manage stress at holiday gatherings.
  6. Allow yourself to say “no thank you”. It is perfectly reasonable to politely refuse food.Don’t let “food pushers” sabotage your efforts to make positive choices during the holiday season.
  7. Bring a dish you feel comfortable eating to your holiday parties. Your family and friends will likely welcome another option.
  8. Make an effort to maintain exercise routines. Regular exercise will help manage holiday stress and it may promote positive body image.
  9. Limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol stimulates your appetite and decreases your ability to practice mindful eating habits.
  10. Divert your attention. Focus on catching up with family and friends, rather than the food.  Holiday activities, games, and dancing are nice alternatives to focusing on food.
This article was contributed by Kate Evett, RD, LD, lead dietitian at McCallum Place Eating Disorder Treatment Programs. Visit us online at