Holidays and Food Addiction: Learning How to Approach Special Meals

Woman decorating the Christmas tree

For an individual who is struggling with and recovering from a food addiction, the holidays can be an especially difficult time.

With the abundance of specialty foods that are usually available during this time of year, a person addicted to food may be overwhelmed by the numerous choices surrounding them.

It may feel challenging to maintain recovery in the midst of a plethora of food choices, but working with professionals and staying connected to support can help.

Perhaps one of the most effective strategies for approaching the holiday season with a food addiction is having a plan ahead of time, understanding potential triggers and exercising healthy and positive coping mechanisms.

Many people who struggle with a food addiction often turn to eating as a means of coping with, suppressing, or dealing with emotions or situations that can be overwhelming. If you or someone you care for has struggled with a food addiction, it is important to work with a therapist or counselor to understand what these triggers might be.

For example, if you tend to eat in response to anxiety or stress, be aware of situations that might provoke these types of emotions.

Healthier Coping Skills

Developing healthier coping skills is also essential to making it through the holiday season.

Learning other ways to manage emotions other than using food will help to break away from food addictive behaviors.

For instance, if you find yourself at a holiday party and feeling emotions that are difficult to handle, a better way for coping with this situation might be by stepping out for a brief walk, phoning a friend, or temporarily removing yourself from the situation.

Your therapist can help you identify what coping mechanisms might be most effective for you.

Working on the physical aspect of a food addiction is also important, and a registered dietitian can help you with this piece of the puzzle. It is crucial to nourish your body with balanced meals, eat regularly and consistently and practice how to differentiate between physical and emotional hunger.

It is important that you do not come into a holiday party or meal feeling hungry or famished, as the physical feeling of hunger itself can drive you to overeat. Work with you dietitian to discuss effective strategies for a meal plan that is appropriate for you.


Crystal Karges photo

About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 25, 2016
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About Baxter Ekern

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