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Mirasol Eating Disorder Recovery Centers

Strategies For Women With Eating Disorders During the Holidays

Overview The holidays can pose a particularly difficult time for women struggling with eating disorders as issues with food and family can come to a head during this time of year. Social pressures to eat, along with stressors related to dysfunctional relationships with family can exacerbate problems for women coping with anorexia, bulimia or other eating disorders. Finding strategies to cope can help these women maintain a healthy attitude toward eating and diffuse potentially stressful and unpleasant interactions with family members.

What are Eating Disorders? Holidays Trigger Major Stressors  The pressure to conform to the good cheer enjoyed by many during the holiday season can be stressful for anyone, not just people suffering from eating disorders. Women struggling with bulimia or anorexia or other eating disorders may find the holiday season particularly stressful, however, because of factors such as: • Pressures related to looking good for holiday family functions and social events. • Pressures related to spending time with family members you may have difficult relationships with. Critical or negative comments from family members, even those meant in jest, can be hurtful for women struggling with eating disorders. • Isolation. Women struggling with eating disorders often feel alone, even when others are present. Seeing others enjoying the holiday season may cause them to feel isolated.

Holidays Trigger Major Stressors (cont.)

• • •

Eating in front of others, particularly large groups, may be extremely uncomfortable for women with eating disorders as it may increase the anxiety they feel related to eating. An overabundance of food during the holidays may spur an episode of binge eating. As holidays mark a milestone, reaching them may leave women feeling down about where they are in life.

Learning to Enjoy the Holidays

The holidays don’t have to be times of stress and discomfort for you. By learning strategies to cope during Christmas, Thanksgiving and other festive seasons, you can enjoy these times of year as well. Some coping strategies include: Take family in small doses. If being around relatives is stressful, limit your family obligations. Positive self-talk. Keep your attitudes toward yourself positive by reminding yourself of your good attributes. Stick to your nutritionist’s advice for eating during the holidays.

Maintaining Positive Eating Habits

While it may be difficult, maintaining healthy eating habits during the holidays is possible. You can do it! Here are some tips: Eat regularly. Stick to a healthy eating schedule. Have a trusted person to talk to if you begin feeling that you are slipping into unhealthy habits. Have a plan for what you are going to eat.

More Strategies For Negotiating the Holidays

Focus on your personal goals for the holidays. Write your feelings in a journal. Keep an open mind during the holidays and try to establish better communication with family members.

Facts About Eating Disorders

About 24 million people in the U.S. struggle with some sort of eating disorder. About half of these people also suffer from depression. Women make up the majority of people suffering from eating disorders. Eating disorders have a high mortality rate compared to other mental illnesses.

Seeking Help

If you believe you have an eating disorder but aren’t currently working with a medical or mental health professional, the holidays may be the time to reach out for help. If you are engaging in some of the following activities, you will want to work with a professional: Dieting, even when thin. Taking laxatives to lose weight. Compulsive exercising. Eating alone or in secret. Hoarding junk food. Binge eating. Rapid, unexplained weight loss or gain. Preoccupation with weight that detracts from your work or social life.

About Mirasol Recovery Centers

Based in Tucson, AZ, Mirasol Recovery Centers provide adults and youth struggling with eating disorders with the best psychiatric and medical care. With the help of Mirasol’s medical doctors, psychiatric staff and alternative medical treatment personnel, our patients can resolve underlying issues contributing to binge eating, anorexia, bulimia and other eating and selfimage disorders and learn to live happier, healthier lives. For more information, visit

Strategies for women with eating disorders during thr holidays | The holidays can pose a particularly difficult time for women struggling with eating disorders as issues with food and fam...

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