If you read our Thanksgiving newsletter a couple of weeks ago then you’ll already know that one of the most powerful tips to maintaining bulimia recovery over the holiday season involves ensuring that you eat regularly throughout the day.
Of course, if you are in a position to stick to your usual structured eating plan and you will be preparing all of your own meals and snacks over the holidays then you may find it easier to use your usual formula for structured eating success.
But how do you stick to a structured eating plan when you’re surrounded by masses of potentially triggering festive foods? And what if you’re not able to prepare or plan your meals and snacks ahead of time due to a chaotic or unpredictable schedule?
Just because you can’t stick to your usual structured eating plan, or plan the content of your meals ahead of time, does not mean the concept of structured eating has to be abandoned completely.
The key to surviving Christmas in Bulimia recovery under these cirumstances involves a commitment from you to relax and adapt your structured eating plan.
Over Christmas you’ll undoubtedly experience some disruption to your usual daily routine so relaxing your structured eating plan gives you a realistic way to continue eating regularly without the added pressure of advanced meal planning and preparation.
To do this, following your breakfast try to eat approximately every 3 hours through the day, just as you do with fully structured eating, but don’t worry too much about planning your meal and snack contents ahead of time.
Removing the element of meal planning can be extremely beneficial at times like this; it gives you a lot more freedom around food and removes the intense pressure and stress of trying to stick to your regular structured eating plan, especially if you’re away from home.
Taking on this more relaxed approach to Structured eating ensures that you are able to eat regularly throughout the day - even when you’re not able to plan your own meals in advance.
Do spend some time thinking about the different meal and snack options you may have, the foods that will be on offer to you and try to visualize portion sizes in your mind before you start to eat.
Do practice Mental Rehearsal to prepare yourself for making recovery-focused choices.
Do consider sticking to your usual breakfast.
When it comes to adapting your plan one of the most important things to consider is allowing yourself to eat more festive foods, rather than your usual foods.
Deciding that you will completely avoid typical, or “less safe” Christmas foods will almost certainly set you up for failure, so it is important to consider in advance, how you can accommodate certain foods into your meal plan.
As I discovered during my first Christmas in recovery from bulimia, replacing some of my usual balanced snacks for things like chocolate and Christmas cake, can actually be a wonderful idea.
Well, it allows you to avoid a state of mental deprivation and will mean you’re much more likely to avoid bingeing on those foods later in the day.
So consider the ways in which you can adapt your structured eating plan in order to include some festive foods, perhaps you’ll decide to eat those foods for snacks like I did!
Tip: Christmas dinner a little later than planned? Then why not adapt your usual plan and eat two snacks in a row while you wait?
Eating something every 3 hours is a very practical strategy that should be helpful when managing your eating disorder over Christmas, but relaxing and adapting your eating approach can often be underpinned by fears of imperfection and other complex emotions.
Remember you do NOT have to be perfect, don’t allow that all or nothing thinking tell you otherwise. (Banish all or nothing thinking)
Whatever stage of bulimia recovery you are at, having a plan to survive Christmas and remain relapse-free is a very sensible idea.
If this is your first Christmas in bulimia recovery I really wish you the best of luck. If you’d like more information on how to face Christmas triggers without relapsing then please do take some time to review these additional Bulimia Help articles:
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The information provided in this website is for information purposes only. The information on this website is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional. Please refer to the full disclaimer and copyright. If you do think you might suffer from an eating disorder, it is important that you talk to your General Practitioner, as there are many physical complications that can arise from being at an unhealthily low weight or from losing weight very quickly, or from purging. We advise you to seek professional help with working on an eating disorder.
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