How to Navigate Family and Friends During the Holiday Season

  1. Talk about your triggers with your family. Give them specific ways they can support you.
  2. If you are going to a party where you are worried you might feel triggered. Or maybe most people there donn’t know about your eating disorder, bring a close friend or family member for support.
  3. Spend time with younger family members at family holiday parties. Play a game with them. They offer a nice distraction from more serious conversations.
  4. Make sure to spend time with older family members as well. Talk about past holidays or ask to hear stories from when they were younger. They offer great perspective on the important things in life.
  5. Prepare yourself with distractions for after meals:
    1. Offer to be the family photographer. Take pictures of everyone throughout the day/evening.
    2. Suggest that everyone play a game together after the meal.
    3. Watch a holiday movie with friends or family after eating.
  6. Holidays are busy and may interfere with self-care or recovery. This time of year, it is especially important to carve out time to take care of yourself and engage in whatever skills you tend to utilize to manage stress (e.g. deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, grounding techniques, etc.)
  7. Set boundaries! You may feel like you have a number of obligations and expectations to meet over the holiday season. Be honest with yourself on what you can do and remind yourself it is okay to say no.
  8. Know that it’s okay to not tell everyone about your eating disorder. Work with therapist, support group, or friend to come up with some planned responses to various possible triggering scenarios. You can come up with different responses based on whether or not the person you are talking to knows about your eating disorder or not. See this post from NEDA for some great ideas to get you started!

By Elyse Rocco, PsyD

Self-Care During the Holiday Season

During this busy time of year, it is easy to get caught up in the festivities and gift-giving that we forget to take a little time for ourselves. And remember that self-care can look different for everyone. What is relaxing and life-giving for one person might be exhausting or draining for another. So, although you can get ideas on self-care from others, don’t judge or compare what you choose to do. 

Here are some ideas on ways to include self-care during the holiday season (and many of these ideas can be used year-round!).

  • Make sure to schedule some alone time. This time of year can be very busy with parties, dinners, and other get-togethers. But remember to take some time for yourself.

  • Go for a walk outside. Maybe there is a beautiful snowfall, or maybe it is nice and warm where you live. Either way, enjoy some fresh air.

  • Stay inside and curl up with a good book. Even better if you add in some comfy pajamas, a warm drink, and a fire in the fireplace!

  • Spend some time with animals. If you have a pet of your own, spend a few extra moments cuddling, petting, or playing with him. If you don’t have any pets, visit your local animal shelter. They are always in need of an extra dog walker or someone to cuddle with the cats.

  • Focus on gratitude. Try writing three things you are grateful for every night. This can even be something you invite friends or family to join you in during the holiday season.

  • Take a bubble bath. Make it more festive with holiday-themed scents.

  • Give yourself permission to enjoy the festivities. Many people spend more time worrying about how they “shouldn’t” be eating/drinking/doing something, that they forget to just let themselves relax and enjoy the treats.

  • Take some time each day to unplug from technology.

  • Decorate your room/apartment/office. Seeing decorations throughout the day can bring a smile to your face.

  • Drive or walk around the neighborhood to look at holiday lights. You can do this with loved ones or on your own.

  • Take a nap. (And also make an effort to get enough sleep each night.)

Just as important as it is to include these little self-care ideas into your life this holiday season, it is also important to take care of yourself throughout the day by setting boundaries and preventing yourself from becoming overwhelmed by all of the various activities. In next week’s blog post, we will be talking about ways to handle and prevent the stress that might arise with family and friends during the holiday season. 

by Megan Anderson, Ascend Dietetic Intern

Active Parenting Leads to Active and Healthy Children

An article published in The Washington Post in June, “When Fathers Are More involved Kids Obesity Rates may Go Down,” highlights on the tenets of the UnWeighted model: a balanced and thoughtful approach to one’s entire lifestyle and environment can positively shift health.  The article shares that:

“Researchers examined how often fathers participated in parenting activities such as caregiving, making meals and playing outside, and how much they participated in decisions related to nutrition, health and discipline when the children were 2 and 4 years old.

Children were 30 percent less likely to be obese at age 4 if their fathers had increased their parenting time in the preceding two years than were those whose dads did not.

Each additional daily caregiving task that fathers handled — such as help with getting dressed, baths, brushing teeth and bedtime routines — was associated with an additional reduction in their child’s odds of becoming obese, the study found.

“It is possible that when fathers are more involved, the total amount of time both parents dedicate to child caregiving increases — it’s not just the mother providing care but the father as well,” said lead study author Michelle Wong of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.”

This study points to several of the more often overlooked factors potentially relevant in trying to improve one’s health: self-care, balance, enjoyment, attachment to positive activity and change.  These findings could deduce that increased flexibility between parents, shared caretaking and decision making, among other factors, helps create an environment of positive health.  The UnWeighted model reinforces this notion.  It permits choice in flexibility and change in decision-making over a person’s lifetime.  Just as seen within positive family frameworks, the UnWeighted model defines success as unique for each individual.  Thus, when families create space for shared responsibility, shared positive change may occur.