How to Successfully Avoid Holiday Food Stress


The holiday season is a great time of year to spend with family and friends. From Thanksgiving through to Christmas, New Year’s eve and even Burns Night at the end of January, all of our favorite holiday traditions seem to largely focus on one part: the food.

For anyone currently struggling with food, be it from an eating disorder or other form of anxiety, all of this pressure to make the big family meal perfect can cause havoc at this time of year and lead to higher rates of suicide and serious anxiety issues.

If you’re feeling like things are hard right now, it’s a good idea to discuss your problems with professionals like the team at Eden Treatment.

Feelings Of Being Overwhelmed

Everyone gets stressed over the holiday period, but for those with food related disorders or anxiety it seems like the beginning of November right through to the beginning of February is filled with nothing but discussions about food. It’s not just any food either, it’s specifically stodgy foods and sugary treats.

Foods that are higher in fat and sugar, like Christmas dinners and New Years’ eve snacks, seem to be the most popular thing for everyone at this time of year, but if you’re struggling with the amount of calories you are consuming it can be a very overwhelming and daunting experience rather than a treat.

You may also find you have friends or relatives encouraging your to “indulge yourself”, which may cause additional stress and anxiety. Either from having to constantly be rejecting them or dealing with the feelings of guilt and shame if you do eat something you feel you shouldn’t have done.

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Routine Changes

Many people cope with food anxiety or eating disorders through a set food routine – either the type of food, meal plans, or meal times. This helps it to become a habit and something which doesn’t need to be thought of – removing some level of stress. However, this is likely to be very disrupted over the next few weeks while the holiday season runs its course.

Being aware of the changes can help you to cope when they do happen, but don’t be afraid of trying to keep some normality even with relatives. If you usually eat at 6 pm on the dot, mention this while the planning is taking part, so you and your relatives can make sure dinner is ready for 6 pm.

You may not be able to stick rigidly to your routine, and that is likely to cause some anxiety, but trying to work towards it and having some calming techniques in place when things don’t go quite to plan will help.

Practice Your Dinner

This may sound like a strange tip, especially as Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners can be some of the most stressful dinners of the year, but it might actually help you to have a practice run.

A few days or weeks before, cook a mini version of everything you’re going to face as much as possible and spend some time really getting to know the food.

If you have issues with smell, taste, and texture, this is the perfect time to face your worries in the privacy and comfort of your own home and on your own time. Spend as much time as you need understanding the food and when it comes time to the ‘real thing’ it won’t be such a shock. You can even alter the menu if you find something particularly distressing to you.

Mike Miller

InnoVision Health Media reports on health content that is supported by our editorial advisory board and content published in our group of peer reviewed medical journals.

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