HOW TO: Own Your Physical & Mental Health During the Holidays

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Hey friends and Happy Monday!

I cannot BELIEVE that Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK!! Even though it is super late this year, it’s absolutely snuck up on us!

So — just last week, I got a lovely message from one of my Patreon VIP members, with a post suggestion!

For those who don’t know – I have a Patreon, where for as little as $1 a month, you can help support this blog, and get some pretty great perks too – like podcasts of all my posts — or, in this friend’s case — the ability to chose the week’s blog topic!

I am so grateful for all my Patrons, it is what allows me to continue this online desktop ministry!

SO – the requested topic was: Holiday tips when it comes to eating without losing control.

Talk about a “biggie!”

Thankfully, being 12 years strong in my recovery from anorexia, the holidays are no longer a source of fear and anxiety like they were when I was just beginning recovery. But BOY, do I remember those pit-inducing times like they were just yesterday.

The holidays are particularly difficult for people in recovery from eating disorders because it is a season that completely revolves around FOOD. It’s a time of intense “togetherness,” where you’ve got all these eyes on you, and what you are and aren’t eating. You’ll be thrown so many comments by well-meaning loved ones about your appearance, or your recovery. But more than that — there are so many “fear foods” that come with this time of year — and the name of the game is “overindulging.”

So yeah — I just remember feeling almost paralyzed with anxiety whenever this time would roll around.

BUT, in an effort to make this as applicable as possible, I thought I’d broaden the umbrella to include 9 tips on How to Own Your Physical and Mental Health During the Holidays!

1) Know Your “Togetherness” Limits: Take Some “Me” Time

The best thing about the holidays is that you’re with your loved ones. I literally start looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas in….about, oh….end of August. I love being with my family.

But, I know that for me to truly be able to be my best self, and be in the moment, fully present, fully joyful — I need some alone time to recharge my batteries.

So don’t be afraid to take an hour for yourself. For me, this looks like going running or taking a walk. If you need to just go up to your room and close the door for an hour, do that. Take an extra long shower. Volunteer to make a grocery run, and then take your sweet, sweet time.

Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to do what you need to do. Because ultimately, it’s going to be the best thing, not only for you – but for your loved ones too.

2) Leave the “All or Nothing” Mindset at the Door

This is a huge one. The “All or Nothing” Mindset is rampant when it comes to eating disorders, particularly binge eating. You have one cookie, and then – BAM – in your mind, you’ve completely “messed up” and so now, that one cookie turns into the entire box, plus the leftover pie in the fridge, ALL the brie cheese, AND the pint of ice cream in the back of the freezer.

The “All or Nothing” Mindset is probably the biggest “sabotager” we have to combat. Part of it is perfectionism. Part of it, is — particularly if you’re restricting — your body is pleading for nutrition, and so it will do anything it can to spark you to adequately nourish it. ((Hence why people binge!))

So — just remind yourself, that you can have a treat, and then go back to your normal routine. No problem. Life goes on.

(And for tips on overcoming binge eating, check out my article!)

3) Don’t Let Food Be Your Security Blanket

Another aspect of the whole — food/mind connection — is that when we are emotionally stressed, or emotionally exhausted, or emotionally on edge — turning to food is a common response. I mean, Ben and Jerry’s has become synonymous with breakups, has it not? — A crying, recently dumped girl, crying into a pint of Chunky Monkey, in sweats, watching reruns of Friends. It happens.

And so, naturally, when the holidays roll around, let’s face it — with lots of “togetherness” can come heightened emotions. So yeah — as a result, food can become a source of safety or comfort — be it over doing it, or “under doing it.”

Let food be food.

Find positive coping mechanisms: Journal. Take a walk. Take a moment to yourself and listen to a song. Or take some space.

Keep food in its proper place: as a source of nourishment and fuel for your body.

4) Give yourself some grace

Here’s the long and short of it: find peace in giving yourself permission to enjoy.

Food is freaking delicious. God made it that way to delight us. I mean, seriously: He could have made all food taste the same. Heck — God didn’t have to give us TASTE BUDS either! But He did, because He loves us, and wanted to delight our senses and our tummies.

So allow yourself to enjoy! Yes – you will probably over eat, but it is just one meal. The human body is an incredible machine that is designed to be able to process food. So if you overdo it a little bit, or a lot a bit, give yourself some grace. Forgive yourself, and trust that your body will use what it needs, and discard the rest.

One overindulgent meal is not going to make you get f*t. Just get back on track tomorrow.

5) Keep Food in its Proper Place

And I’m not talking about not eating on the couch in the living room.

The holidays are a time for family. And gratitude. And remembering the birth of Christ, and all the blessings we have.

Don’t let food steal the show.

One of the things I’ve learned is that, it’s not about the meal, but the company. It’s the people you’re with who make the meal, not what’s on your plate.

If you go into the holidays remembering that — remembering why you’re together, and cherishing the time you have with your loved ones, it will put food in its proper place in the pecking order.

6) Move! : Make it a Family Affair!

Staying active is part of staying healthy! So make it a family affair! Take a walk after dinner around the neighborhood as a family. Play a big game of touch football outside while the turkey’s baking. Sign up for a 5K Turkey Trot in the morning as a family. Health is such a beautiful gift to share with loved ones!

7) Have an Ally

Sometimes it can help to have a confidant at the party, with whom you can share your trepidations. Just give them a heads up that you could need a little extra support during “game time.” Knowing that someone is on the same page and knows what you’re going through goes a long way.

8) Realize that People will say Dumb Things

Here’s the thing: an eating disorder is difficult to navigate for all parties involved. And the fact is, sometimes, well meaning relatives or adults can say some pretty stupid things. And the thing about recovery from anorexia is that, yes – your body changes. Your progress is visible to people. And that’s a good thing! But not everyone knows how to react…tactfully. I remember going to a doctor’s appointment right after I got home from inpatient, and my male GI doc goes, “Wow, looks like you found McDonald’s!” 

Facepalm.


People are going to say dumb things. And just let it roll off you. You’re beautiful. You’re healthy. And you’re reclaiming your life.

9) Power in Prayer

Finally, there really is power in prayer. Sharing with Jesus your fears and anxieties and allowing Him to love you is the best thing you can do to navigate a difficult situation. Rest in His peace. And remember that your worth comes from Him.

This is the best season of the year, and to my recovery warriors: remember that you’re alive to enjoy it. Keep that in perspective. You’ve chosen life. You’ve reclaimed your health. You’ve won the battle, and sadly, not everyone does. Remember how blessed you are.

You survived. Celebrate that.

For more recovery advice, and a guided recovery companion journal, you can order my book, Bloom: A Journal by BeautyBeyondBones by clicking on the link below.

“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5

A big thank you to my foundational sponsor, BetterHelp Online Therapy. I cannot begin to express how beneficial therapy was for my recovery from anorexia.  Speak with an online therapist. Or check out content about eating disorders from BetterHelp.

***THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS ORDERED MY BOOKSBLOOM: A JOURNAL BY BEAUTYBEYONDBONES AND “MY BLOGGING TIPS“***


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beautybeyondbones

BBB: Because we're all recovering from something. // For speaking/business inquiries: beautybeyondbones@yahoo.com

92 thoughts on “HOW TO: Own Your Physical & Mental Health During the Holidays

  1. Thanks for the reminders and guidance. My recovery is strengthened through the holiday season as long as I stay conscious of avoiding all or nothing as you said. Also by really believing it is not a season about ME! Reading your post I see you have things pretty much in perspective. But the real challenge is keeping it there. Reading what you share I have no doubt you stay in a safe place this Advent/Christmas season – with God’s power of course. I stay impressed and inspired by your life. Thanks. John

    1. Thanks John! Yes!! You’re so right – it’s not about us! I love that reminder! Glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  2. Great tips! I find it’s helpful not to try to explain to folks who won’t understand (I don’t mean supportive bloggers!). If I’m with people who are into over-indulging, drinking up a storm, whatever… I have learned not to say a word about recovery or triggers or whatnot. I simply say oh that looks wonderful… I’ll have some later! “Later” is a beautiful word. 💖

  3. Thanks for sharing! I dread the holidays for a different reason. Everyone is supposed to be upbeat and the last two Christmases have been in the dumps. First I got food poisoning in 2017 from an office Christmas party. Second, I got depressed last Christmas 2018 because of a confluence of events. I don’t have a lot of high hopes this year. 🙁

    On the other hand, while hunting for new ice cream flavors to eat after oral surgery, i found this awesome ice cream flavor: https://www.benjerry.com/flavors/phish-food-ice-cream. Name sounds weird but chocolate and marshmallows ? It’s my little indulgence/ comfort food to make me feel better temporarily.

    But you’re right, food can be an idol to keep you from really trusting God. Instead of talking to God about stuff, i can bury it with all the small things or be busy so i don’t have to deal with my pain.

    Nevertheless, you always brighten people’s day with hope, sound advice and grace.

    1. Thanks for sharing that. Gosh that sounds tough! I hope that this year is better than you could ever imagine! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  4. Love this Caralyn. All points are excellent. I love how you said that we have to remember that the company, the people around us is what matters and the food should not take centre stage. It was a good reminder for me as I tend to get stressed about preparing everything perfectly 🙄.

    1. Aw thanks! I’m so glad this resonated with you! I agree! The people around us! Hugs and love xox

  5. Fire as always bbb 🔥🔥🙌. As I’m driving down the road listening to this song i found from insta story, Verano in Paris, lol , I’m reflective of a holiday season a couple years ago where i was in a dark place but found your blog and it was a refreshing place for me. Keep being you and rocking the blog and blessing people 🙏👊

    1. Haha aw thanks Nathan!! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! OH MY GOSH isn’t that the best song ever!!? I love it! Hugs and love xox

  6. This is a great blog post, and you made some really good points about staying healthy during the holidays. I’ve decided to give up added sugar a few days ago, and it’s been a journey so far. I’m allowing myself to have some treats during the two weeks of Christmas where I’ll be with relatives, but after that I’m going back to my normal eating habits. I have an all or nothing mindset which can be detrimental. For me, sugar is an addiction. I can’t just eat “a little sugar.” Just a little sugar turns into a binge. So now, I treat sugar like an addiction and really try to cut down on it wherever I can.

    I quit caffeine two months ago, and will seldom drink coffee now. If I do, it’s unsweetened. Quitting the coffee habit is very doable. So now, I figure that I cut down on added sugar this month and next. It will be hard navigating what to eat during Christmas but in the end, it will be okay (Thanksgiving in Canada was last month).

    1. Thanks Hilary! I’m so glad this hit home with you. I feel you – sugar is incredibly addictive – scientifically. You got this girl! Cheering for you! Hugs and love xox

  7. I wish someone would write about protecting your mental health during the holidays; between finances, friends, and family it can be a lot. The holidays are most depressing for me.

    1. Thanks – yeah a lot for sure. I’m sorry to hear that. I hope this Year is difffernt and filled with joy! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

      1. Just wanna tell you your support and likes for a nobody offensive controversial poet like me means the world to me. All differences aside, I’m glad we both still follow and support each other. Never taking anything personal. You’re amazing

      2. Absolutely 🙂 I’m grateful that our paths crossed so long ago! Hugs and love xox

  8. Thanks for sharing this Caralyn. I recently found out my daughter had relapsed and is actively in her eating disorder again (bulimia) so this is very helpful to me as her mom. It will help me encourage her the right way and educate family on what not to say. I’m going to go back and listen to your talks again because they will help a lot as well! Thanks for always sharing quality content.

    1. Thanks so much Shell for sharing that. I’m so sorry to hear that your daughter is struggling right now. Hang in there. She is strong and will get through this. I’ll be praying for you all. Hugs and love xox

    2. And please email me if you need someone to talk to or have any private questions. Truly, I’m here for you 💛

  9. What a well written and wonderfully expressed post. The true meaning of Thanksgiving is being thankful for what we have. Family, friends and health. Etc. Food is just nice to have. But yeah. I don’t eat as much as I used to. I’m restarting the gym.

  10. Okay, for that patreon 1$ a month of like a raffle, and.rhe winner gets to pucker up and kiss you -no tongue- just a pucker like the one u display in the white too with those beautiful chinese eyes…and yes we know ur not Chinese….

  11. You are a really beautiful girl. I struggle with weight issues as a child but I would not wish anorexia on anyone. All the best and keep fighting, girl. 🙂

    1. Thank you KM, I appreciate your kind words of encouragement. Means a lot. Sending you so much love. Xox

  12. Sometimes it’s helpful to remember that God included feast days in the ancient Jewish calendar. He wanted times for them all to come together, to be enjoy each other, to worship him, to escape the routines of life and, yes, to indulge in foods they weren’t able to eat at other times. I like God’s balance of discipline and enjoyment, austerity and plenty. Thanksgiving makes me think about that.

    1. Oh my gosh what a terrific point! Thanks Beverly for that awesome reminder! Hugs and love xox

  13. Great post!!! 😀 Also, the picture of you in the chair by the fireplace is adorable! If that is your home, it looks like something out of a magazine! <3

    These are great tips and definitely something that everyone should think about. Most of the time, we are so concerned with how others are feeling during the holidays that we forget to check in on ourselves. This year, I'm finally focusing on limiting my "togetherness time" with family and focusing more on "me time." It's been extremely helpful for my mental health!

    1. Thanks so much! Haha aw thanks – that was last Christmas! I can’t wait to put up the tree this year 🙂 thanks – that’s my parents home! So glad you’ve found that helpful!! Hugs and love xox

      1. Hahah I actually just texted them your kind words, and my mom was ecstatic! So touched! Thank you again! You made her day 🙂

  14. what a wonderful post, and a great reminder of what Thanksgiving is all about. Best wishes to you for a happy Thanksgiving day. And I agree with girlwiththepawprinttattoo – that is a great Christmas picture at the top of the post!

    1. Thank you so much Jim! I’m so glad this hit home with you. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving as well! hugs xo

  15. Thanks for the post. Regarding people saying stupid things, I remember coming back from a semester abroad and seeing a friend (a lot of struggles with ED) who was making progress and she really looked good. The words that came out of my mouth seeing her for the first time in months was something along the lines of, “Damn! You look good.” Don’t know if that was stupid or not, but there it was.

    1. Yeah, EDs are tricky to navigate as loved ones. Because the progress is so visible and it’s truly such a relief to see your loved one doing well. and words can get twisted by the disease, so that makes it difficult. But it was coming from a good place, and I’m sure your friend knew that. 🙂 glad you stopped by! hugs xox

  16. I find it admirable that the thanksgiving tradition has survived to today but while it marks an important historical event that must be preserved wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all made every day a day of thanksgiving to our gracious God who supplies all our needs. Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. Isn’t it wild that we’re still celebrating the same way with the same exact foods on the same final thursday of November!? Talk about a tried and true tradition! amen to that! thanks Ian for stopping by! hugs xo

  17. Well, I need to make some nice cream… 🤨
    Currently making a health-smoothie, a regular of mine 🙂

    Oh, not always a fun time of year…

    A lovely photo with your niece 👍🏼

  18. I want to congratulate you on your many years of freedom from your past. I hope you continue moving forward and never feel haunted by what happened in the past. Keep your eyes focused on the prize.

    1. Oh my gosh thank you so much for such a kind note of encouragement! That is such wise advice too! eyes on the prize! hugs xo

    1. awww, thank you so much Margi!! I appreciate you stopping by!! hope you have a wonderful evening and terrific thanksgiving!! hugs xox

    1. Thanks so much Lisa! Yes! We all need a recharge! Especially during the holidays! hope you have a beautiful Thanksgiving!! big hugs to you and yours! xox

  19. Good tips. I tend to enter my own little private world of Christmas movies, music, and television specials. I avoid too much socializing, now that I don’t drink and party anymore. My new favorite movie is Joyeux Noel from 2005. It is about the Christmas truce during World War I. The Catholic mass in Latin is an amazing scene… and the singing…well, I don’t want to give anything away. You can watch it for free on the Sony Crackle website. It has quite a few English subtitles, and you have to deal with ads, but it is well worth it. If you want to hear a Christmas song I wrote about a soldier who died on Christmas Day (it’s a true story) you can go to Youtube and type ‘John Hamilton – The Greatest Christmas Gift of All.’ My talented Facebook friend sings the lyrics to the song.

    1. Thank you so much John!! Oh gosh–are you a fan of Hallmark movies!? I absolutely LOVE them!! OOh I’ll have to look up Joyeux Noel – it sounds captivating. So many great reccos! thank you! i can’t wait to check them out! bighugs xox

      1. I’m a 56-year old divorced grandpa from Virginia. I’m not really supposed to admit I like those Hallmark movies. I do love Roadhouse and Point Break though. Okay, I do like A Gift Wrapped Christmas with Meredith Hagner and a few others.

      2. Haha own it John!! I think they’re the best movies out there, to be honest! I’ll take a hallmark classic over some marvel superhero movie any stinkin day of the week!!! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  20. Great post 🙂 You have come a long way indeed with combating anorexia and I am so glad to hear that you are continuing to succeed 🙂 This article about mental health is fantastic. You know, it is interesting, I have been reading lately that more and more men and women have been talking deeply about it than they have before. As to their ideas, I would have to read them as well or talk to the professionals I know. Nevertheless, one person I know goes on a Hallmark movie binge around this time of year to keep themselves calm. It is not even so much because of getting stuff done as it is trying to maintain their sanity. Whatever works 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    1. Thank you John! I truly appreciate your encouraging words. I’m glad you enjoyed the article! Oh hallmark movies – I have to say, I get the appeal 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    1. Aw thank you 🙂 I’m glad you thought so! For as amazing as the holidays are, they can also provide some challenges. Thanks for taking the time to read it! Hugs and love xox

  21. Thank you, I NEEDED this! Sometimes, especially at holidays I find myself teetering on that balance beam between recovery and my old habits. It’s very difficult some days to keep my mind centered. These are great, proactive plans you give here, to put in place. A very happy and love-filled Thanksgiving to you Caralyn <3

    1. Thank you so much Mindy! I’m so glad it resonated with you!! I hope you have a beautiful Thanksgiving as well! Hugs and love xox

  22. Thanks for sharing! Excellent work. Your testimonies are AMAZING and we all knows that God is in this project. Never quit you are transforming other lives. God Bless You. Happy Thanksgiving Day!

    1. Thanks Marvin! Oh my gosh what a kind thing to say!! I am seriously touched by your encouraging words! I hope you have a beautiful thanksgiving as well! Hugs and love xox

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