It’s said to be the most wonderful time of the year… But for many people, the festive season presents significant challenges. This may be especially true for people who struggle with their relationship with food and/or their bodies.

With the pressure to “eat and be merry”, people who do not feel joyful (especially those with eating, weight, and body-image concerns) may feel the discrepancy even more intensely.

In fact, many of our clients identify Christmas as a high-risk time of year for a relapse. This may be due to several food- and non-food related pressures, including:

  • Being overwhelmed by food and conversations about food
  • More exposure to fear foods (e.g. festive foods)
  • Unusual meal plans and times
  • Alcohol and social eating at parties
  • Feeling burnout following end of year exams and/or work-pressures
  • Financial burden
  • A change to the daily routine
  • Family stressors
  • Increased isolation (e.g. if family/friends away or busy with festive events)
  • New year’s resolutions about diet, exercise and weight

Whilst it may not be possible to change much about the situation itself, being prepared and having some additional support at this time of year can help people to cope more effectively and manage any lapses that may occur.

5 ways to support yourself during the Christmas season:

  • Manage stress by planning events ahead of time. Some helpful tips to consider are:
    • Consider the following: Where are you going for meals? Who will be there? What food will we be eating? What are the potential challenges to plan ahead for?
    • Include social catch-ups and events that are non-food related.
    • Have a couple of “go to” topics of conversation that are not food/weight- related (e.g. your puppy’s latest tricks, your Christmas wish list, your favourite Christmas movie, etc).
  • Make a plan for high-risk times and ensure you have a plan for what to do if situations worsen. You may wish to do this with your treatment team ahead of time.
  • Practice mindfulness; being in the moment with loved ones and appreciating what you are grateful for.
  • Stay connected to your support network (such as your treatment team, family, friends, etc.) so that you’re not isolated during this (often) challenging period. You may find it helpful to schedule additional sessions pre-and post-Christmas for extra support.
  • Link in with support services, especially while your treatment team are away. CFIH recommends services such as Lifeline, The Butterfly Foundation and Kids’ Helpline. In the event of an emergency, call 000 or present to your local hospital’s emergency department.

Centre for Integrative Health will be closed from 5pm on Friday, the 22nd of December until 9am on Monday the 8th of January. Please discuss with your treatment team in upcoming sessions to ensure you have a support plan for this time.