We know that the holiday’s can be a stressful and difficult time for everyone. At BANA we’ve put together some ideas that might help make the season a little more merry and bright.


Eat regularly and in some kind of reasonable pattern to help avoid the desire to binge. Do not avoid eating because you are worried about bingeing; it’s more likely to happen if you don’t eat regularly. Try to keep to a normal routine. Don’t skip meals in an attempt to make up for what you recently ate or are about to eat.

Try to allow yourself to incorporate foods you haven’t had for a while, but don’t feel pressured by others if you don’t feel ready. If you are concerned about bingeing due to the large amounts of “fun” foods in the house, try having a conversation with your family. Maybe it would be easier if you don’t overstock but only buy what’s necessary to reduce the likelihood of bingeing on trigger foods, or if you put trigger foods out of sight after meals.


Resist categorizing foods as “good” or “bad”. In normalized, healthy eating, all foods fit and there are no good or bad foods. Instead, think in terms of moderate portion sizes. An appropriate amount of even high calorie food is not the end of recovery. Enjoying these foods in appropriate amounts and at appropriate times is actually part of having a healthy relationship with food! Remember that holiday food is special and is meant to be enjoyed. Plan to allow yourself to eat “treats” and “extras.” This is socially and psychologically healthy! Try not to count calories and avoid the scale. And remember: Weight fluctuations throughout the day are normal so avoid the scale after eating.


Aim to have balanced meals that include all four food groups. Use the plate method below as a guide. And don’t forget to include a moderate portion of fun food at the end of that meal for a sweet ending!  If you are at a big party where there is lots of food, you may find it helpful to scan the table before selecting your food choices. That way you can see all that is available and select what you really want.


  • Plan ahead for different situations once you know your activities for the holidays. For example, if you are traveling, pack some snack foods both for the time in transit and to have upon arrival at your destination until you can go shopping. If you are unsure of what food may be offered at a holiday event, offer to bring something you know you will be willing to eat. Planning this way will decrease anxiety all around.
  • Plan for possible discomfort around feelings of fullness. Distract yourself by engaging in a pleasurable non-food related activity, e.g. volunteer for a charity, go caroling with family and friends.
  • Plan to be compassionate towards yourself. If you end up bingeing or purging, do not beat yourself up over it. Remember that these behaviours will decrease in regularity with healthier attitudes and eating behaviours. Put it behind you and get back on track at the next meal. Each meal is a new opportunity. One meal does not make or break your recovery.


Confide in someone. Tell someone who will be with you during meal times your concerns and allow them to give you advice on what is appropriate. Choose someone that is recovery focused. They can reaffirm you when difficult situations arise. Consider allowing them to be your “reality check” with food e.g., fix a plate for you or provide feedback on portion sizes you make for yourself. They can also help redirect conversation if the dialogue starts heading in the direction of dieting and body shape. Together, you may even want to brainstorm topics of conversation unrelated to food.


Know what you expect of yourself and your family ahead of time. Set reasonable goals and limits for how much time and money you are willing spend. Having a vision of what you’d like your holidays tolook like will help reduce the chance you’ll fall victim to the ”tyranny of shoulds” where we put others’ expectations of ourselves above our own priorities. Sticking with your regular routine as much as possible also lends structure to a sometimes chaotic time of year.


It can be very tempting to try to “do it all” over the holidays, but being willing and able to say “no” can help you maintain balance in your life. Carving out time for yourself is also important. Prioritize activities that you enjoy and that reduce your stress level.


Let us know how we can help you best prepare for the holidays! It’s our mission to help you and your families have a wonderful, stress-free holiday season, so from everyone here at BANA:

Information retrieved from the following sources:

  • National Eating Disorder Information Center. Available at: http://nedic.ca/coping-holidays
  • National Eating Disorders Association. Available at: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/twelve-ideas-help-people-eating-disorders-negotiate-holidays
  • Mirror Mirror Eating Disorders. Available at: http://www.mirror-mirror.org/holiday.htm
  • Casa Palmera Treatment Center. Available at: https://casapalmera.com/food-eating-disorders-and-coping-with-the-holidays/
  • The Ranch Mental Health Center. Available at: https://www.recoveryranch.com/articles/eating-disorders/eating-disorder-recovery-holidays/