It’s that time of the year again. The temperatures are dropping, the holiday lights are up, and diet talk is everywhere. Promises of “new year, new you!” and internal negotiations to have or not have the holiday cookies your family made. The holiday’s are already stressful and often emotional for many of us.
If you are someone who is actively struggling with their eating disorder it is important to remember it is okay to say ‘no’ and hold boundaries. You do not need to attend every holiday gathering or party invitation. It is important to do what feels best for you and your recovery. Work with your team to plan in advance if you know you are attending holiday gatherings. While it is impossible to predict the future or know exactly how things will unfold; it is important to establish a plan with options and work through possible triggers.
If you are in eating disorder recovery and feeling comfortable, there are also fun ways to connect over food and be hands on during this holiday season. Let’s explore a few food and non food activities below:
Fun activities to be hands on with food:
- Build and decorate gingerbread houses.
- Decorating holiday cookies with friends and loved ones. Maybe participate in a cookie exchange.
- Make a sourdough starter and pass it on to a friend.
- Make your own hot chocolate bombs.
- Popcorn on a string.
- Holiday breads – Challah, fresh cranberry and orange zest. Use this as an opportunity to get creative.
- Make your own mocktails with fresh fruits and herbs (think cinnamon sticks, cranberries).
- Exchange gelt.
- Brew a holiday simmer on the stove. Think cranberries, cinnamon and orange peels.
- Learn a recipe passed down through family members. This not only gives you a chance to connect over food but to possibly learn more about your family history.
Holiday activities that don’t involve food:
- Make holiday ornaments
- Ice skating
- Attend or host a wreath making class.
- Driving around to see the lights. Some parks and organizations also host events where you can drive through to see holiday light displays.
- Make a snowman.
- Make holiday cards for a local pediatric hospital or nursing home.
- Holiday movie night
- Going to a holiday performance
- Caroling with an organization or your neighbors
- Sledding, snowtubing, snowshoeing
Okay, you did it. You made it through the holidays with some fun food and non-food activities! Great! Now don’t let New Year’s Resolution talk crush your spirit. Regardless of what you have eaten during holiday brunches, dinners, friends get togethers; your body is not the problem and does not need to be fixed. It’s also okay to identify that resolutions do not work for you and you do not want to feel pressured into participating. January 1st is not a magical date and things will not start over when the ball drops at 12AM. Work with your team to help support you to not get wrapped up in the ‘should’s’ of this New Year’s season. In addition to not participating in weight and exercise based New Year’s Resolutions, you can also create different holiday experiences that support your wellbeing.
Let’s explore some examples of non-diet resolutions:
- Increase variety of foods by trying two new foods per month. Each different food we consume has a different vitamin and mineral profile so the better your variety, the better your nutrition.
- Schedule a monthly lunch/dinner date with a friend or family member to catch up.
- Try a new recipe. If you are someone that struggles with disordered eating, try to make this recipe something that challenges your eating disorder rules.
- Learn a new skill: piano or another instrument, photography, pottery, foreign language, watercolor painting, coding, creative writing, stand up comedy, etc.
- Book a dance class or a fun workout class you have been eyeing to experiment with mindful movement. What would it be like to move your body because you want to vs because you feel like you should?
- Find more satisfaction out of both life and how you nourish yourself. Can you tune in to yourself and allow yourself to be in the moment to find what satisfies you?
- Take yourself on a date at certain intervals throughout the year. This could be to that new cafe in town, a solo movie, a stroll through the park, a mani/pedi, etc.
- Practice self compassion and reframe your thoughts when you notice negative self talk.
- Join a book club. If that feels too stressful then read 6 new books this year (or whatever other number feels reasonable to you).
- Sign up for a cooking class with a friend or independently. In person and virtual options are out there!
- Prioritize self care. Start with at least 2 days per month. Think: pedicures/manicures, spa days, bubble baths, aromatherapy, face masks.
- Practice meditation. It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes, start with a 5 minute guided meditation one day per week.
- Purchase an adult coloring book. This can be for stress relief and fun!
- Limit your screen time and social media usage. Maybe even unfollow a few of those toxic accounts!
- Prioritize sleep hygiene for better sleep. There’s no denying the benefits of adequate sleep on our mental and physical health.
- Practice gratitude. Purchase a journal or write in the note section of your phone at the start or the end of the day at least one thing you are grateful for.
- Stop cursing all the time!
Lauren Maynard, MS, RD, CDN, also recently wrote on this topic and described tips for non-weight based goal setting. You can check out her article here.
You don’t have to wait until January 1st to prioritize yourself and find goals that align with your values. Focusing on behaviors and not a number on the scale can help you reconnect with yourself and break the new year, new diet cycle that is doomed to failure. What if this New Year’s resolution wasn’t about restricting food? Or weight loss or attempting to change your body? What if this year’s resolutions weren’t about dieting or body at all? What would you put your energy and time into if you were not so consumed by diet culture? Let us know in the comments!