Topic Tuesday: Holidays

“Holidays” (By: Anna Cragon, RDN, CEDRD, LDN)

The holidays can be a mix of many different emotions for people. Some of you may be excited that long nights of studying are over and you get to go back to your hometown to catch up on sleep and have home-cooked meals. But some of you may experience a less joyful time. Going home for the holidays, whether for an extended period or only a few days, might be a difficult time. It is a time we get back into old family patterns and systems, and many of us do not often act as our best selves. Being with family may lead to saying things we regret or slipping back into eating disorder behaviors as coping mechanisms to get through the season.

Whether you go home to an extremely supportive family system or spend a short amount of time with difficult family members, keep these tips in mind:

  • Self care – Prepare yourself for the upcoming time before, while you are with family or in a difficult situation, and afterward. Spend time doing things that bring you joy (reading, using lavender lotion, taking a warm bath, getting fresh air or being in nature, whatever works best for you!).
  • Set boundaries – I encourage clients to ask that family members not make any comments about food, weight, or exercise. You may have other topics where boundaries are needed.
  • Work to nourish your body – Stick to regularly scheduled meals and snacks and incorporate family favorites along the way.
  • Remember what is important – The holidays are a time to be still and remember what is truly important. While you should work to continue to eat and move your body in ways that feel good, keep in mind that food is never just about the nutrients. It is also about the experience of eating, whether enjoying holiday treats at your yearly Christmas party or making a family favorite recipe. My family still makes my grandmother’s gingerbread cookie recipe and the holidays wouldn’t be the same without them.

I hope that each of you find joy and peace in the coming weeks. Use the skills you have learned throughout your recovery process and support systems near or far to help you have a wonderful holiday season.

About the Author

Anna is a registered dietitian who specializes in eating disorders and practices in private practice at Fowler Nutrition PLLC. Anna obtained her nutrition and dietetics degree from Auburn University and completed her dietetic internship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She is originally from Huntsville, AL. Anna enjoys spending her time at Nashville restaurants and going for runs at local parks. Anna also enjoys traveling, reading, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.