Posted by: VoiceinRecovery | November 24, 2010

Holiday Recovery Tips

Plan ahead: prepare a game plan going into the Holiday.

Discuss with your treatment team a relapse prevention plan; Print and bring written down relapse prevention plan with you on Holiday

Can you make your Holiday a Fat Talk Free Zone? I know this may be hard, but it would be a wonderful goal!

If possible, could you ask for a No Comment on eating disorder zone? Contact your friends or family before the meal to let them know where you are in your recovery, what you need, and don’t need, as well as boundaries, triggers.

Do you have a supportive person who will be at the meal? If so, communicate with them before, during, and after meals. Keep accountable with them.

Know your triggers & prepare a plan to approach for each trigger

Practice self talk: With every negative thought, counter it, bring a list of counter points to repeat to yourself; this is a useful tool to reframe your thoughts

Escape plan: I don’t mean this in a “run away from the situation” perspective. I mean, if you feel stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, take a break, find a safe place, take a walk, find a quiet place to re-collect and replenish

Know & stick to your boundaries

Wear comfortable clothing

Talk with loved ones about important issues: decisions, victories, challenges, fears, concerns, dreams, goals, special moments, spirituality, relationships and your feelings about them. Allow important themes to be present and allow yourself to have fun rather than rigidly focusing on food or body concerns. (Source: NEDA)

Have phone numbers of your support system on hand: ask your support team if they would mind you calling them if you are struggling

Make a list of all the things you are grateful for!

Allow yourself to eat when hungry, stop when full. Listen to your body. Take moments to put the fork/spoon down in between bites to truly savor, taste the flavors, textures, etc.

Tweet when stressed! #RecoveryWarriors

If you find preparing a dish or helping cook to be helpful, then do so! If it triggers you, then know that and stay out of that role

Eat Breakfast – do not skip a meal because you fear the lunch or dinner, skipping meals can trigger you off your meal plan, or lead to potential binge eating later

Eat regularly – stick to your meal plan if you have one

Bring your own foods if necessary – you can even make more of them, to make it appear like “sharing” and not a separate food plan

Feelings check in: How are you feeling? What is going on?

Breathing check in: Take a few moments to take a few mindful, deep breaths whenever anxious

Visualize your happy place if overwhelmed. Take five minutes to yourself and close your eyes visualizing a safe place

If you have a dog, can you take for a walk with your support system or alone to clear your head?

Set goals that are not food related. Have a goal to talk to different people, play games, play with kids, the dog(s), etc.

Stay active with your support system, support groups, mentor, friends, etc.

If possible, spend time with other people in recovery

Never leave home without your recovery tool box! If you have a list of healthy coping skills, tools, worksheets, quotes, remember to print out and bring with you!

Breathe (Yes I am repeating this one because it is so important!)

Let go of perfectionism –  the best that you can


Serenity Prayer: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference

HALT:  Don’t let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.

Here are some recommendations from people on Twitter and Facebook:

Know holidays will end! It’s nice to be able to enjoy it, but when it’s hard I just think it will be January soon.

Enjoying a family holiday activity the brings back *good memories*… and sharing it with a new friend, just us

Allowing myself to step out if the room or the house if I start to feel overwhelmed. I always come back, but I allow myself to feel the emotions that I am feeling, tell someone I am feeling them, walk away, and then come back when I calm down.

YOGA! Any time of year, but esp. the holidays. Helps me gain focus throughout my day and be at peace with my body.

Say a prayer

Eliminating expectations! Of traditions, my family, myself, etc. Remembering that no matter what, everything is still OK

Take a break from holiday bombardment on tv and radio by reading an engaging favorite novel

Remembering that I am okay where I am at. And Just remembering to give myself grace

Write a note to all family members saying why you are thankful for them. It helps keep your mind off of the food and on the meaning of the holiday.

In the end, be flexible with your eating, and forgiving of yourself. It is ok to struggle, and ok to feel you have slipped. Reach out, ask for help, call a supportive person, or pull aside a trusted family member and communicate your struggle. You are not alone.

Links to help with Holidays in Recovery:

Hold the Fat Talk! 10 Tips for a Fat (Talk) Free Holiday Dinner

Coping With The Holidays When You Have An Eating Disorder

Tip Day: Surviving Thanksgiving Without Losing Your Mind

Ways to Cope

How to Have a Fat-Talk-Free Holiday Season

Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat

Healthy Eating During The Holidays: Q&A with Judith Matz & Ellen Frankel

Tips for managing food and stress during the holidays

Navigating holiday food issues for people with an eating disorder

Surviving Holiday Meals

Thanksgiving with an Eating Disorder: 10 Tips to Help You Enjoy the Holiday

Eating Disorder Recovery Holiday Survival Plan

{Abundant Self Care} Through the Holidays


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by melissa turner, VoiceinRecovery. VoiceinRecovery said: New Post: Holiday Recovery Tips #RecoveryWarriors #EatingDisorder […]

  2. Wow…this is a great resource. I am printing it and keeping it in my journal. I can’t thank you enough for all of the great ideas.

  3. This is a really fantastic resource! Here’s another tip I can share… Visualize success. Many people I speak with talk about, “Oh, I can just see it now. I’m stuffing my face and then feeling guilty and then having urges, etc. etc.” Instead of anticipating the holiday to be a struggle and creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, try imaging it being a calm and happy experience.

  4. Thank you for posting this!!! the hollidays …are def rough for me. I really appreciate the tips!

  5. oh my goodness thank you so so so much for this.
    i LOVE IT.
    bookmarked! i hope you have a wonderful thanksgiving 🙂

  6. hi I was luck to find your blog in yahoo
    your topic is fine
    I learn much in your website really thanks very much
    btw the theme of you blog is really splendid
    where can find it

  7. Kendra, this is an awesome list! Tons of great suggestions. And thanks so much for linking to Weightless. I’m going to link to this post tomorrow.

    I also think that everyone can apply many of these suggestions to the holidays and beyond. We hear so much about weight gain this season, that it’s sure to cause a lot of anxiety for many people. It’s important to turn to healthy coping skills when you get stressed and remember to practice mindful eating. Listening to your body is also so key!

    Again, really valuable tips!

  8. […] the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” at Key to Life and Kendra’s “Holiday Recovery Tips” at Voice In […]

  9. Great tips. It is so important to plan for the festive period and not leave it all to chance. I remember my first abstinent Christmas and I couldn’t believe that I had been able to survive it without eating chocolate. I always remember that it is ONE DAY and ONE MEAL, not the 12 days it used to be for me!


  10. […] Holiday Recovery tips on Voice in Recovery […]

  11. […] The fabulous Kendra over at Voice In Recovery knows too how common these fears & struggles can be during the holiday season, & has come up with some really fabulous suggestions for surviving (& pray – even enjoying!) the festive season, & i really encourage you all to pop on over there & check out her Holiday Recovery Tips. […]

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