The Holidays Can Wake Food Addiction From Hibernation
The holiday season can threaten the sobriety of people in recovery for many different forms of addiction. It can be a particularly tenuous time for those with food addiction because of the incredible abundance on offer during this season. From parties to gifts and extra-special meals, temptation is all around. Even the weather in many places seems to encourage overeating, bringing cold temperatures that demand high-calorie comfort foods.
Thanksgiving alone would be challenging enough for those with food addiction. This holiday is about being thankful, but it is also about feasting. It can almost seem rude not to overeat on such an occasion, particularly when various family members and friends have often worked for hours to bring the feast to life.
However, the rest of the winter holiday season, while not as explicitly about food, inevitably involves quite a bit of it. ’Tis the season for sumptuous buffets, candy trays, cookie platters and all-around generosity—generosity that can sometimes be misguided, as when those with food addiction find themselves on the receiving end of mouth-watering offerings.
Holiday Season Stress Is Also a Factor
Of course, food addiction is not just about food. Some experts would argue that it is not even mostly about food, but instead is about using certain compulsive behaviors in order to cope with stress. Unfortunately, the holidays can also be very stressful times, combining financial demands with numerous social and family obligations. For people with food addiction, stressors such as these could trigger compulsive eating even if they weren’t surrounded by temptations.
Have a Plan for Each Situation
Having a plan ahead of time for high-risk situations like holiday parties is very important. Trying to make decisions in the moment, surrounded by temptations to binge eat, is a sure way to fall out of control. Check with restaurants or hosts ahead of time to know what food will be available, bring a healthy dish for potluck gatherings and eat ahead of time to take the edge off your hunger and help you stick to the plan you have made.
Bring Your Own Food or Play Host
If you explain your situation ahead of time to your family and friends, most people are very supportive about your need to provide your own food for a holiday gathering. If you prefer not to go into detail about your compulsive eating, you can simply explain that you have been prescribed a certain diet for health reasons.
If you find yourself avoiding many holiday gatherings because of the wealth of unhealthful food that will be available, consider hosting a get-together. This can allow you to connect with friends you would otherwise miss seeing while being able to ensure that there is a variety of healthful food on offer.
Connect With Support Groups
The holidays are a social season, but struggling with food addiction can leave you feeling isolated. Support groups are a great way to get encouragement and advice from people who thoroughly understand your situation and to whom you do not need to justify your decisions. Groups such as Food Addicts Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous can provide general encouragement and support, as well as support during moments of crisis.