Navigating Disordered Eating During the Holidays

The holiday season can be an especially difficult time for people who struggle with various types of eating issues: binge eating; food restricting; bingeing and purging; emotional or stress eating; food addiction; chronic dieting; food fears; and more. Because most activities from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day are food-centric, those dealing with disordered eating can be quickly overwhelmed and stressed out.

How to Stay On Track with Your Eating During the Holidays

  • Focus on celebrating and spending time with family and friends. Focus on the meaning of the holidays for you instead of the food. Shift away from focusing on food, counting calories, and meals.
  • Enjoy holiday foods in healthy, reasonable portions rather than getting caught up in “good food”/”bad food” talk. Moderation is the key during this time of year, and the focus on “good enough” eating rather than “perfect” eating will go a long way.
  • Be mindful and intentional with how you spend your time. Everyone runs the risk of spreading themselves too thin during the holidays. Overbooking yourself can cause stress which can trigger that disordered eating habit. Protecting your health and recovery is of utmost importance. Family and friends will understand if you can’t make it to everything.
  • Embrace and engage your support system. Surround yourself with people who have a healthy relationship with food and their body. Bring a trusted friend or family member along with you to parties for support and accountability. Make sure you are confiding in someone you trust with openness and honesty.
  • Continue going to your therapist, support group, and registered dietitian. Make these meetings a priority and be committed to the therapeutic process. You may even consider increasing the frequency of your meetings. Schedule phone sessions or check in by email if you are traveling.

The holidays don’t have to be a trigger for your disordered eating. You can navigate through this time of year successfully.


Stacey Wald, LAPC, RD

Swald @