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A Thanksgiving Guide for Eating Disorder Recovery

Any holiday can bring stress for someone in recovery from an eating disorder. Exposing your body to your entire family, worrying about their ignorant comments, and the fear that comes with tables and tables of food can be overwhelming.

For years, I hated Thanksgiving because the holiday is solely based around food. I love spending time with my family, but what good was an anxiety attack in the bathroom every single year?

Here’s how I learned to LOVE thanksgiving again through recovery.

1. Get a small/moderate portion of everything you want.

  • Don’t deny yourself of anything that looks or smells good. Anything you want, take a small portion.

2. Eat this entire plate until you are full.

  • If you are still hungry (be honest with yourself), get more food. If you are honestly full, at least you ate an adequate amount. (You can go back for seconds as soon as you’re hungry again! Don’t be shy!)

3. Eat dessert!

  • No food is bad food! Eating dessert is not a criminal offense. Pick the desserts you used to love as a kid and are now restricting yourself from. Pick new desserts family members worked so hard bake. Pick what YOU want, not ana.

4. Comments from your family:

  • A lot of ED warriors have a hard time eating in front of others, even family. I suggest asking your closest family member to talk to everyone else so they know not to comment on your weight.

  • “Is that all you’re eating?" “Eat more” “That’s not enough.” When these comments roll in, they’re well-intended, but they can still hurt. Explain to them that you’re trying your best.

  • It’s okay for them to try to push you to eat a cookie or a bit more stuffing, but don’t let them force you. They are not your nutritionist and explain that to them if you have to.

  • “Wow. You ate all that?” “Going back for more?” “Are you gonna finish that whole plate?” These comments are not okay, but they might come. Try your best to ignore them, and understand that everyone has different nutritional needs and that you are doing what you need to do for your body.

5. Try to have fun with your family

  • Holidays shouldn’t be spent anxious or depressed. Holidays are supposed to be a special time with family, don’t let food and ana take over.

  • Keep yourself talking through mealtimes to distract you, and just get to catch up with your family. After the meal, play games or watch TV with your family.


Thanksgiving is meant to be fun and joyful. Don’t let ANA ruin good times with your family. Don’t let ana ruin the taste of food. Don’t let ana ruin your day.

And guess what? If you fight her on thanksgiving, you can fight her Friday too, and Saturday and Sunday. You can do this.

For more from the author of this post, Juliet, take a look at the original post and check out more information regarding ED recovery here:

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