‘Tis the season for holiday parties. While that may evoke joy and cheer for some, for individuals struggling with an eating disorder — be it food addiction, overeating, anorexia or bulimia — the thought of holiday parties can cause anxiety and stress. Particularly when it comes to office parties at work.
If you suffer from an eating disorder, arm yourself with tools to avoid eating disorder triggers and pitfalls at holiday parties and work functions. Here are a few tips:
1. Always take a “wingman” with you to holiday parties. This individual should be someone who knows your triggers and is able to help you combat common pitfalls. This individual should be someone you trust, someone who knows what triggers your unhealthy eating behavior, and knows how to help you if you get overwhelmed. When attending holiday parties, bring your wingman along. Have a special signal to let them know when you might be struggling and need to step out of the room for support. Talking often helps individuals through moments of temptation or triggers.
2. If you’re attending a potluck party, be sure to cook a dish that you consider to be “safe.” That will guarantee you at least one thing to eat while at the party that won’t trigger your eating disorder or unhealthy behaviors.
3. Never go to a holiday party hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Think: “HALT,” the common slogan for eating disorder treatment and recovery.
4. Anticipate drama. Be realistic, the holidays are never drama-free. If drama tends to be a trigger for your eating disorder, prepare yourself ahead of time for a potentially emotional or stressful evening. If you don’t go into the holidays expecting perfection, you will better able to navigate common triggers associated with emotions and stress.
5. When in doubt, skip the party. If you anticipate the holiday office party being more of a challenge than you’re ready to face, or are simply unprepared, skip the party. Your health, mental and emotional well-being are far more important than whether or not you spend a few hours mingling with coworkers over food and drink.
Eating disorders can cause serious health complications. If you or someone you love suffers from binge eating, compulsive over-eating or bulimia, seek help from a professional.