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Avoid Common Holiday Eating Disorder Triggers

Holiday meals, sweet treats, buffet-style dining and holiday candy can result in binge eating for many Americans. For individuals who suffer from eating disorders, including bulimia nervosa, compulsive over-eating and binge eating, the holidays can spell disaster.

A new holiday season is here. With Halloween now behind us, the 2012 holiday season has officially begun. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are just around the corner.   The holidays are a time of joy for adults and kids alike, but can also lead to unhealthy eating habits. To avoid the pitfalls that may trigger unhealthy habits including compulsive overeating, emotional eating, binge eating or bulimia, follow these guidelines:

  • Combat emotional eating. The holidays can trigger emotions such as grief and loneliness, which may lead to emotional eating. If you struggle with emotional eating, focus on eating foods that will stimulate your brain while providing nutrition, without overloading your body with excess sugar and fat.A few nutrients that can help curb emotional eating are Omega-3 fatty acids, saturated fats, folic acid, vitamin B-12 and vitamin D. These nutrients can be found in foods such as salmon, grains, soybeans, oatmeal, shellfish, cottage cheese, wheat germ, milk, egg yolks and fish bones.It isn’t about avoiding emotional eating altogether, but know what foods to eat to boost your mood without having a negative effect on your overall health.
  • Plan what you will eat ahead of time. Before you arrive at the office holiday party, have a game plan for what foods you will and won’t eat. Prior to the party, fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables as well as water and you’ll be less likely to indulge in unhealthy foods, which may lead to a purging episode.
  • Eat small portions. For individuals who struggle with overeating, this is especially important. Rather than getting sucked into eating more than enough in the holiday buffet line, begin with a smaller plate and keep your portion size small.
  • Make time for exercise. With a busy holiday schedule, you may be tempted to throw your exercise routine out the window — at least until after New Years. Doing so can be dangerous for your emotional and physical health. Exercise creates endorphins, which can help combat depression, anxiety and stress — all of which are triggers for a number of eating disorders. Maintaining a regular, healthy exercise routine will help keep your mood up and may also help you eat healthier meals during the holidays, rather than binging on sweet treats and fatty foods.

If you struggle with binge eating, compulsive over-eating, or bulimia, the holidays can easily become a trigger for unhealthy eating patterns. To avoid any pitfalls, plan your holiday meals ahead of time, with healthy alternatives to candy and other sweet treats.

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. You can also contact us at 1-800-588-4673 if you are interested in our 6-day Intensive Program or Intensive Residential Treatment.