Despite it being "the most wonderful time of the year", the holidays can be tough, especially for those of us with Substance Use Disorders or Eating Disorders. After making it through quite a few sober and eating disorder symptom free holiday meals, and supporting hundreds of women through them, I've compiled a list of my best tips that I myself have used as well as my clients. Enjoy and happy holidays!
5 Tips for Sober Thanksgiving
1. 📝Create a plan! If you aren’t hosting, see if you can drive by yourself or with someone who knows your situation. That way, if you get triggered or things get tricky, you can make a getaway! ⠀
2. 📚If you find support at 12 step meetings, see if you can go to a meeting at some point during the day. Or some people find “bookending” helpful. Go to one before and after the meal to enhance your plan! Many 12 step fellowships have meetings every hour on holidays.⠀ .
3. 🙋♀️Tell someone! Even if you don’t want to tell your whole family you aren’t drinking, see if you can tell one person who is coming with you so they can support you, whether that’s leaving with you or pulling you away from a dunk uncle asking questions! ⠀
4. 🥤Bring something fun to drink! People ask less questions if you are super excited about the new flavor of La Croix you brought with you! Or if you feel inspired you could make a fun mocktail for yourself so you feel less like you are missing out. ⠀
Note- with this one, having mocktails can be tricky if you are trying to pretend you’re drinking or making it similar to a cocktails. It’s also risky to have a mocktail that looks like a drink everyone else is having bc you could pick up the wrong drink! Check yo’self and check your motives!
5. 🙋♀️Safety first! For some of us, if our family drinks an unhealthy amount, or there is significant family strain, thanksgiving with may be straight up unsafe in early sobriety. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries, say no, and create/ attend your own thanksgiving with your own people! There’s no shame in protecting yourself and your sobriety, even if it some people don’t understand it.
5 Tips to stay Eating Disorder Free on Thanksgiving
1. Reduce overwhelm! ⠀
For my ED friends, the sheer volume of food can be overwhelming. See if you can have a friend make a plate for you rather than serving yourself to avoid obsessing or analyzing 🤯about food and what to eat. ⠀
2. Try a buffet!⠀
Okay normally, buffets are overwhelming for those of us with EDs, but at family dinners, encouraging your family to setup a buffet rather than eating family style can actually be helpful! This way, you won’t have to stare at the food the whole meal.⠀
3. Say grace!⠀
No need for it to be religious, no need to even have your family to do it with you, but taking a moment to pause before the meal 🥘 reduces #anxiety and encourage you to eat more mindfully!⠀
4. Eat normal meals on Thursday ⠀
This is a big one! I’m sure you’ve heard it before, starving yourself the day of a big meal or the day before only sets yourself up for disaster! Also if possible, see if your family can have a the meal at lunch or dinner time versus 2-4pm which can put you in a gray area for meals! ⠀
5. Plan something to do after the meal⠀
When I was in early #edrecovery my family had a ritual of going to the movies after dinner! It was a great thing to do to distract me after a hard meal and also get out of the house and remind us that thanksgiving is just a meal rather than an entire overwhelming event. Go for a walk, head to a friends house, play a board game! Take the focus off the food and get connected with loved ones! ⠀
Hope you enjoy this list and feel free to comment below with your best tips!
I was sitting in an AA big book meeting roughly a year ago. I opened the cover and scribbled on the first page read "willingness without action is fantasy." The quote hit me in the stomach. Sometimes we need that in recovery...a wake up call. The quote found me at exactly the right time. Since grad school I had been saying that I wanted to start my own private practice but somewhere along the way I found comfort and security in my job at a drug and alcohol rehab center. I had steady pay, plenty of support and the comfort of knowing that I would always have a steady stream of clients. Being in private practice is...vulnerable. People cancel, they relapse, they no-show, they get angry, and you don't have a larger institution to support and protect you when things get messy. I've learned vulnerability is messy, as is anything worth having in life.
So there I am sitting at a meeting on a Friday night with truth staring me right in the face. It begged the question, the dream of opening a private practice would remain, just that, a fantasy, without action. The very next day I created a plan for how my private practice could become a reality in one year. I set a date and I began sharing this with other people and began to learn what it would actually take. The truth is, it doesn't matter how willing we are, if we put it on a dream board or meditate about it if we are not taking action. Don't get me wrong, I'm a proponent of all such things, its just that wanting it is not sufficient for actually making it happen. The entire point of manifestation is to put us in a space where we are willing to take action and new opportunities to act open up for us.
While I may be talking about something that is more of a luxury, I am clear that this quote applies to all parts of our life. When we are struggling, its easy to be willing. We say we will do anything to get better, to feel better, to not keep repeating our destructive patterns. Then, we take action. And guess what? Things get better. But somewhere along the way we lose our willingness. Saying that we are willing or "being" willing makes no difference. It is only through ACTION that things can move forward. So my invitation to you today is, whether you are struggling with something such as depression, anxiety, or an addiction, or you are simply looking to take the next step in your life, as yourself... what actions am I taking? If the answer is none, get real with yourself...I ask you, what is it going to take?