Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How to face food fears during the holidays

(ARA) - When the holidays turn into something to get through rather than something to celebrate, something is wrong. Holidays are supposed to be happy times, so why do so many people get depressed, frustrated and stressed out?

Carolyn Costin, eating disorder therapist and director of Monte Nido Treatment Center, knows all too well how problematic holidays can be. She has spent years helping her clients gear up for the holiday season by helping them rethink and reframe the way they perceive and handle this time of year.

Most people face food issues during the holidays, but for those who struggle with eating disorders, the holidays add additional anxiety and pressure to an already dysfunctional relationship with food. Costin says she goes over the following tips with her eating disorder clients to make the holidays not only less overwhelming, but even fun. These same tips are useful for anyone who wants to make the holiday experience the best it can be.

Tip 1: Don't focus on the food

Make a list of all the other things that you can pay attention to at holiday parties or family gatherings such as seeing old friends, singing together, playing games, decorating things and making gifts.

Tip 2: Put things in perspective

Remember that holiday parties, and holiday gatherings in general, are really just a short period of time. There is an end in sight. Besides, even if you feel like you make mistakes, overeat or don’t handle things well, you can use these incidents as lessons to learn from.

Tip 3: Balance is the key

* There are no “bad” foods, just bad eating habits.

* Don't deny yourself, but don’t ignore body signals such as fullness.

* Don't be on or off a diet. Instead be on a healthy, balanced overall eating plan.

* Bake with your kids or friends and bring the goodies to homeless shelters or others in need.

Tip 4: Plan ahead

* If you are going to attend a party, plan your food accordingly. If you know it will be a problem, for example, you might be able to skip your afternoon snack and have dessert at the party instead. If you are in treatment for an eating disorder, be sure to check this out with your dietitian or therapist.

* Plan special time for yourself to "get away" from the holiday stress. Get a manicure, go to the park, take a bubble bath.

Tip 5: Be on the offense, not the defense

* If your relatives are coming to you, take control and be responsible for the food and activities.

* Have plenty of things to do to take your mind off of food – trimming the tree, movies, walks, holiday shopping, and time at the beach.

* If you have a problem with a relative but have to see them over the holidays, take responsibility for making it better/livable – write a letter or take the person aside and talk.

* Create your own image of family gatherings. Know what is realistic for you and your loved ones.

* Let the people you love know what a gift they are to you already.

* Don't see anything as an obligation, do things differently.

* Instead of going commercial, make your own cards. This is much easier with computers and printers these days. Or get out your old, or your child’s, colored pencils or crayons or watercolors and really “make” your own.

* Spend time spreading goodwill and showering people with love.

* Know that peace on earth starts with you and how you handle your relationships.

These rules won’t ensure that there will be no problems or that your holidays will be exactly as you would like, but they can help things be more enjoyable and less stressful. It’s important to figure out what works for you and to remember that you have a part in making the holidays all that they can and are supposed to be.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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