Navigating Eating Disorder Recovery During the Holidays with Supportive Family and Friends

Recovering from an eating disorder can be a challenging journey, and when the holiday season approaches, it brings with it a unique set of difficulties. It’s a time for connection, laughter, and joy, but it can also be fraught with expectations, comments, and conversations that can be difficult to navigate for those in recovery. The holiday season can be especially daunting for those dealing with eating disorders due to the prevalence of diet culture and comments about physical appearance. However, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and anxious during this time. Here are some valuable tips on how to navigate eating disorder recovery, particularly when spending time with family and friends during the holidays.

Identify Your Safe Person:

One of the most important steps in navigating eating disorder recovery during the holidays is to identify a “safe person” within your family or friend group. This individual should show compassion, understanding, and a willingness to learn about your mental health concerns. They should be non-judgmental and demonstrate a sincere desire to support you in a way that’s meaningful for you. Reach out to this person before the holiday season and communicate your needs and concerns. Having a supportive ally by your side can make a significant difference in your experience.

Ask for What You Need:

It’s essential to communicate your specific needs to your supportive family members or friends before the holidays. For someone in eating disorder recovery, having someone sit with you during a meal can be tremendously helpful. Ensure that there is food available that aligns with your meal plan or your dietitian’s recommendations. Planning this in advance can reduce anxiety and ensure that you have the necessary support during gatherings.

Decide What to Disclose:

Before you reunite with your loved ones, think carefully about what information you want to share regarding your eating disorder recovery and to whom you want to disclose it. Being intentional about what you’re comfortable discussing, whether it’s about your personal life, professional endeavors, or your recovery journey, can help you maintain a sense of autonomy and avoid making a last-minute decision in which you feel pressured to over-share. 

Set Aside Alone Time:

The holiday season can be emotionally draining, so it’s important to schedule alone time to recharge and reflect on your emotional well-being. There’s no shame in taking a break to gather your thoughts and process your feelings. It’s a valuable self-care practice that can help you stay grounded throughout the festivities.

Practice Assertiveness and Set Boundaries:

It’s perfectly normal to encounter communication challenges during the holidays, such as passive-aggressive or aggressive conversations. However, practicing assertiveness can be a powerful tool in maintaining a sense of safety in your relationships. For example, if someone brings up a topic that makes you uncomfortable, assertively express your feelings by saying something like, “I’m not ready to discuss this topic; I would appreciate it if we could talk about something else.” Setting boundaries and practicing assertiveness can empower you to protect your emotional well-being.

Eating disorder recovery during the holiday season is undoubtedly challenging, but it is manageable with the right strategies and support. Remember that it’s okay to prioritize your well-being, communicate your needs, and set boundaries when necessary. With the guidance we’ve talked about here, you can enjoy the holiday season with your family and friends while also taking care of your mental health and recovery journey.

Becoming anchored in hope, 


Laura is deeply committed to supporting individuals on their journey to eating disorder recovery and has created a team of phenomenal therapists to do just that. At Anchored Counseling Company, you will find helping professionals who provide a nurturing atmosphere grounded in trust and acceptance while promoting body trust through a Health at Every Size (HAES) philosophy and a trauma-informed approach. Everyone at Anchoring Counseling Co. firmly believes in the inherent value of all bodies and offers a warm and compassionate therapeutic style. Their approach is centered around the idea that clients have the innate capacity to bring about lasting positive changes in their lives. To start working with someone, call our office today at 615.510.3797 or click here.

While you’re still here! I remembered a wonderful book that touches on so many of the things we discussed here today. The Wisdom of Your Body by Hillary McBride is a game changer when it comes to setting and holding boundaries around recovery from an eating disorder. Let me know if you check it out…I’d love to hear what you think.

Affirmation of the Day:

“I make choices for my recovery that will further my continued healing.”

Anchored Counseling Company is a a group practice specializing in the treatment of anxiety, depression, body image concerns, eating disorders & disordered eating, substance use, trauma and PTSD, and spirituality in Brentwood, Tennessee and serving the greater Nashville, Tennessee area. We are easily accessible for clients living in Franklin, Tennessee and Spring Hill, Tennessee. 

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