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In the recovery from any chronic health condition, there are ups and downs on the road to recovery and improved health, and a mentor can help in navigating the rocky road.
For many people who have struggled with an eating disorder in the past, the holidays may be a time of difficulty.
With the holidays there are many settings which can be emotionally challenging for anyone, as spending more time with family can have ups and downs.
The settings of holiday parties are predominantly food and beverage focused, and many people find themselves eating in excess as a part of festivities.
For those who don’t struggle with an eating disorder, this still may challenge their mid-line and how they feel about themselves, and often provokes New Year’s resolutions for changes surrounding such.
For individuals in recovery from an eating disorder, the holidays can be an overwhelming focus on food and a struggle to figure out how to follow a meal plan as well as feel or act “normal” in these settings surrounding food.
Having a person who is familiar with your struggles and you are able to connect with regularly can be a significant help through the holidays. There are a wide variety of people who may be helpful as a mentor, and if do not have someone who plays this role in your life there are several qualities to consider as you seek someone to have such a connection with.
Some people appreciate having a mentor who can speak from their personal experience, and experience that they have had in supporting others. A mentor such as this may look similar to that of a sponsor which is advocated in 12-step programs. 12-step programs for individuals in recovery from eating disorders also exist and include Overeater’s Anonymous or Eating Disorder’s Anonymous.
These are not the only settings in which one can find a mentor who has a personal experience they can share but definitely are places where a person such as this can be found.
The benefits of having a mentor who can share their personal experience are that many of the struggles you experience will be something which this person also has gone through at some time in their lives.
So no “little thing” that you are finding stressful (what do I eat, did I eat too much, how can I handle being in the kitchen all day) will be something that this person hasn’t had as a challenge at some point or another!
A spiritual mentor or guide can also be a person who helps you through the challenges of the holiday season. This may be someone from a religious setting or meditation class who has the same focus of spiritual views which help to guide their lives, choices, and outlook in the face of struggles.
A spiritual mentor can help you to look beyond the struggles you face with eating and food to the larger principles that help to shape your life and relationships. This doesn’t need to be a spiritual leader or guru, but anyone who is walking the same path in faith or a spiritual practice.
Having a mentor of this nature can help you to find greater connection and meaning in the things outside of just the food struggles or focus. A spiritual focus can help to reframe the struggles of an eating disorder and help you to see that the challenges leading to the food focus are much like the challenges that everyone faces.
Therapist or Professional Support
The holidays also may be a time to set up a more regular schedule of support with professionals who are supportive to your recovery around an eating disorder.
Professionals such as therapists are very familiar with the challenges people face around the holidays whether this is dealing with family, memories of loss, or loneliness in this and other settings.
Working more with your therapist to specifically verbalize the things which you anticipate to be challenging and putting together a plan to get through these challenges can be great way to approach them.
Of cours,e many challenges are unanticipated, and just having a discussion of what things might happen, and following up with your therapist subsequent to them to process things which may have come up also may be necessary. Life offers challenges in many settings which we don’t expect, but having a plan will at least make you in part ready!
Close Family Member or Friend
Finally, some people may find that they have a close family member or friend whom can be supportive during the holiday season. This may be a sibling or cousin or close friend who has known you for some time, and as such understand the challenges that you have faced with your eating disorder, your recovery, and the dynamics of your family and household settings.
Friends or family who have been with you through the years can be a great form of support, as they have known you through the test of time, and also probably are familiar with the things which have happened in holidays past.
With such a supporter, you may even find yourself able to laugh from time to time as you encounter struggles with a predictable pattern, and family members whose personalities may be challenging.
Most importantly, taking it all in stride and reminding yourself “this too shall pass” can help you through any challenging moments that you experience!
Contributor: Carrie A. Decker, Naturopathic physician
opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on November 17, 2015
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com