11 Tips For Navigating Thanksgiving In Eating Disorder Recovery

11 Tips For Navigating Thanksgiving In Eating Disorder Recovery

At BALANCE, we know Thanksgiving can be a difficult Holiday to navigate while in eating disorder recovery. Our team shares 11 tips to have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving!



1. Remember What The Holiday Is About

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a day for expressing gratitude and spending time with people we care about. Our Lead Dietitian Liz Carrara MS, RDN, CDN suggests that instead of engaging in judgements about yourself, your food choices or others food choices to focus on what you are grateful for and connecting with those around you.

2. Help Others Help You

Our Founder & CEO Melainie Rogers MS, RDN, CDN, CEDRD-S said one of the best things you can do ahead of time is having a conversation to inform loved ones on how they can best support you. She suggests sitting down with someone from your support system and being clear about what you would like them “to do, not do, say and not say.”

3.  Don’t Engage in ‘Body Talk’  

Being around family and loved ones can often bring about unwarranted comments regarding our bodies or appearance. Well intentioned or not, you can always change the narrative. Our Lead Dietitian Liz suggests answering comments about appearance with something such as ‘it’s great to see you, what have you been up too?’ She reminds you that “you can be the change you want returned!”

4. Prepare To Shift The Conversation

Liz also suggests thinking of a few subjects you can offer up to swiftly shift the conversation if you feel it moving towards bodies and food. Bring up light topics such as movies, pets or traveling.

5. Think of Thanksgiving As Just Another Meal

Liz wants you to remember that Thanksgiving is just another meal. She said to treat it as the “lunch or dinner it really is - meaning nourishing yourself normally around the meal - yes, this means breakfast, snacks, etc.”

6. Feel Gratitude For Food Freedom

It’s that time of year where all the “what to eat, what not to eat” chatter starts to dominate our dining tables and homes. Our Clinical Director Cassandra Lenza, MS, LCSW, RYT says what she finds most empowering is “instead of buying into diet culture (or arguing about it), I give myself a pat on the back. I remind myself how being an intuitive eater feels like I’m participating in the world’s best-kept secret. Finally, I send out a prayer: May all my loved ones one day learn the same food freedom and joy.”

7. Be Gentle With Yourself

Melainie says to remind yourself throughout the day to “be gentle with yourself, you are doing the best you can!” Instead of being critical of yourself, try to combat any negative thoughts that come up by treating yourself with unconditional compassion.

8. Do What Is Best For You

If things get challenging, Melainie wants you to remember to “never be afraid to excuse yourself, leave early or take a walk to get away from it all.” Honoring what you need is extremely important in healthily handling stressors during the Holidays.

9. Reach Out For Support

Just like any other day in recovery, things may not go exactly as planned and we may need some help to get through unexpected hurdles. Our Clinical Outreach Coordinator Leslie Davenport, LCSW suggests reaching out for support when you need it rather than trying to cope alone. Most importantly, she reminds you that “you are not alone.”

10. Its OK to Not Be OK, Thanksgiving Does Not Have to Be Perfect

With or without an eating disorder, Holidays can be a difficult time for many people. You may feel pressure to have the ‘perfect’ Thanksgiving or to be happy throughout the day. For many, a big part of recovery is learning to accept imperfection and allow ourselves to feel all of our emotions. Thanksgiving is no exception! Our Communications Coordinator Emily Costa wants you to remember “you do not have to pretend for anyone, especially for yourself. Navigating a day like Thanksgiving is hard while actively in an eating disorder or in recovery. No matter where you are in your journey - feel what you are feeling, talk it out if you need to and know there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ Holiday.”

11. Know It Gets Easier

Know that no matter how difficult things may feel right now, it will get better. Melainie wants you to keep in mind that “it won’t always be like this. With recovery, it’ll get easier year after year!”


We hope these tips are helpful for you or your loved one.

The entire team at BALANCE eating disorder treatment center wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Looking for eating disorder treatment programs or services in the New York City area? Learn more about our options at BALANCE eating disorder treatment center here or contact us here.