Your Guide To Navigating the Holidays While in Recovery

Your Guide to Navigating the Holidays and Recovery

Paige Mandel MS, RD, CDN

Adapted from Balance Webinar “Holiday & Recovery: Your Guide to Navigating the Holidays and Recovery” hosted by VP of Admissions & Clinical Services Danielle Levitine, MS BC-DMT LCAT CED-CAT and Dietitian Quinn Haisley, MS, RD.

Recorded Webinar & discussion linked here



Why Are The Holidays Difficult to Navigate While in Recovery?

  • The holidays typically mean being around an abundance of food and potential food triggers
  • Diet and food talk increase during the holiday season
  • Challenging interactions with family
  • Heightened stress can increase the urge to rely on unhelpful behaviors


The Before: How to Prepare

  • Identify your needs
  • Set your goal
    • Ex: I will complete my meal plan today
  • List out potential trigger points
    • What resources do you have to navigate these potential triggers?
  • Create, review and communication your plan with your team of providers
  • Reach out to someone at the event who you can share your holiday recovery plan with


Set your mentality

  • Be compassionate with yourself
  • Give yourself permission to enjoy the moment
  • Set expectations that feel good
  • Set boundaries with your family members ahead of time
    • Examples:
      • Please don’t make comments on other people’s appearance during this holiday
      • I am really looking forward to getting together for the holidays! To make it as enjoyable as possible for me I’d rather we don’t talk about weight or food
    • Allow yourself to say no
    • Focus on gratitude
    • Prepare for things that are going to be out of your control such as food choices and preparation style


Action steps

  • Prepare your self-soothing toolbox
  • Wear comfortable clothing
  • Schedule your meals and snacks
  • Do your favorite self-care activities
  • Gather inspiration of why recovery is worth it to you to have handy
  • Plan fun activities before and holiday events to help keep a positive focus and balance i.e. ice skating, baking cookies with family, massages
  • Set reminders on your phone to check in with yourself throughout the day
  • Make sure your recovery plan is accessible and ready to go


During the Event:

  • Follow your meal plan
    • Aim to eat regular meals and snacks throughout the entire day
    • If you can, pack snacks if you know you will be away from home for a long period of time. However, don’t use this to replace fear foods with safe foods
    • Enjoy variety! Approach food with curiosity
  • Look for your early warning signs that can lead to unhelpful behaviors such as spike in feeling body dissatisfaction
  • Avoid making body judgements
  • Set boundaries or walk away from any conversation regarding body talk
  • If you have strong urges
    • Reach out to your support person who you feel safe and comfortable talking to, someone in your corner
    • Utilize your tool box
  • Have a supportive exit strategy in case you feel overwhelmed


After the event:

Defining your exit strategy

  • What to prepare for
    • Can you be alone after the event? Do you want someone to be with you?
    • Do you have adequate support?
  • What positive activities can be supportive?
    • Volunteer
    • Schedule session with team
    • Journal
    • Self-care

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