Holidays are full of fun, planning, family and friends! They are also full of traditional foods that we love and associate with good, happy memories. Holidays are also a trigger time for food addicts. Overeating and sugar are highly associated with holidays, birthdays and other celebrations.
Here are some suggestions to help you feel good about both a special event and your recovery:
Don’t arrive hungry.
In the past you may have chosen not to eat before the event to “save room” for your favorite foods. We eat more when we let ourselves get too hungry so be sure to eat something ahead of time.
We all love holiday foods, so enjoy them! Eat them slowly. Take time to savor the flavor. Think about how grateful you are for the food, the holiday and those around you.
We get pretty busy during holiday seasons and forget to drink as much water as we need. Keep your water bottle with you.
Practice your recovery conversations.
Got a food-pusher in the family? Rehearse in advance conversations in which you turn down food. Remember, you don’t owe anyone an explanation unless you desire to discuss your recovery with them.
Change your focus from a food-holiday to a memory-holiday.
Here are some examples from former Lifestyle Transformation participants:
One Lifestyle Transformation Group decided to make non-food items for their neighbors for Christmas rather than giving the traditional plate of home-baked cookies and candy. They had lasting memories of their interactions with their neighbors that year.
Another group decided they would eat small portions of the foods they love for Thanksgiving Dinner and then go for a walk afterwards rather than dropping on the couch uncomfortable from over-eating. When they returned to group they shared how wonderful it was to have what they called their first “Compulsion-free Thanksgiving”, happily describing how others joined them for the walk and the sweet, meaningful conversations they had!
A couple brainstormed new ways to show love on Valentine’s Day without chocolates and had a special date where they walked in the park, held hands and talked about their plans for the future.
(group experiences shared with permission)
Good memories sustain us during difficult times. They comfort us when loved ones have passed on. Make holidays a memory-days in your life. Stay present emotionally. Take time to talk with each person who attends. Say something encouraging in each conversation. Making memories to hold in your heart changes holiday from food-focused to memory-focused events.
Use the self-guided My Recovery Plan workbook to make a Holiday Plan in advance. What will be your triggers? How will you handle them?