Tips for surviving the holidays

Surviving the holidays is an important topic for all of us to think about in terms of self-care and healthy eating. For people struggling with eating disorders, food is a challenge on a day-to-day basis, and it is even more of a challenge on food-focused holidays. Here are my favorite tips:

1. Plan ahead for the entire season.

surviving the holidays


Think of a family member or friend that you can call when you are feeling stressed or if self-destructive emotions arise during the holidays. Consider choosing a loved one to be your holiday food coach – to help you fix a plate or to give you positive feedback on portions that you make for yourself.

2. Discuss your holiday plans in detail with your dietitian.

surviving the holidays

Work together to come up with a game plan for your holiday eating, which includes some flexibility and a safety net for managing unforeseen circumstances.

3. Follow your meal plan to help with surviving the holidays.

surviving the holidays

Eat regularly and don’t skip meals in an attempt to make up for what you recently ate (or are about to eat). Maintain a regular pattern of eating and stick to your plan.

4. Surviving the holidays includes planning alternatives.

surviving the holidays

Make sure that there is food available that you feel comfortable eating. Speak with the host about what foods will be available and offer to bring a dish you know you will be comfortable eating.

5. Listen to your body.

surviving the holidays

Avoid mindless eating

It is easy to neglect hunger and fullness signals during the holidays. Do your best to maintain a balanced meal system and be kind to yourself about what you are eating.

6. Give yourself a break to help you with surviving the holidays.

surviving the holidays

If you find that you are being hard on yourself for overeating or for trying foods that you would not normally eat, try not to judge yourself too harshly. Write out your feeling in a journal, call a loved one, or talk with your therapist or dietitian.

7. Talk with family members before getting together.

surviving the holidays

Ask them in advance to not push food or to make comment about diets, calories, or weight. Too much emphasis on healthy eating can also increase stress.

8. Take time for yourself.

surviving the holidays

Your number one priority is taking care of yourself. Avoid over-stressing and over-booking yourself. Take a 10-minute break from relatives or go for a walk to clear your head. A lower level of stress can decrease your perceived need turn to eating disorder behaviors.

9. Enjoy non-food activities.

surviving the holidays

Focus on enjoying the holiday season and your time with loved ones. Try making your holidays more about relationships and activities than about food. Plan a family outing, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or visit with friends. Start making your own holiday traditions that are not centered on food.

10. Do the next right thing to help with surviving the holidays.

surviving the holidays

If you find yourself skipping a meal or overeating, don’t be too hard on yourself. The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone.  Refocus yourself on moving forward to do the next right thing. Stick with your meal plans and reach out to your support system.

Want nutrition support during the holidays? Our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists can help. Contact us today! Our number is 301-474-2499 or visit our contact us page.

Blog updated December 2019.

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Rebecca Bitzer loves to empower Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) and their clients.  Co-author of Welcome to the Rebelution: Seven steps to the nutrition counseling practice of your dreams and  Taste the Sweet Rebellion: Rebel against dieting.

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