Navigating the Easter Holiday
Holidays, such as Easter, can be both exciting and stressful for numerous reasons - spending more time with loved ones, having a change in our routine, traveling, and eating new or different foods, just to name a few. Especially for those in eating disorder recovery and/or working on their relationship to food, being mindful of the unique challenges and how to handle them with positive, healthy coping skills can help to foster a more enjoyable, manageable celebration.
If you’re able to, try to plan ahead as much as possible. Ask whoever is hosting the celebration who will be there, what food will be served, and at what times? From here you can try to identify support persons, as well as a schedule for your day to incorporate adequate meals and snacks alongside the holiday meal. You can also decide with your treatment team if there are certain foods you are not yet ready to eat how to best navigate this.
On the day of, try to dress as comfortably as possible. Easter is often a holiday where dressing up is expected in many households. If you cannot find an outfit to “dress up” in that is also comfortable perhaps you can wear one outfit to one activity, such as church, and then bring more comfortable clothing to change into where you will be spending the rest of the day and having any eating experiences.
During the actual celebrations, try to remain present and engaged with those around you. Work to enjoy the experience and have meaningful conversations with those around you; at the same time, if conversations around triggering topics are being had around you, give yourself permission to leave the room/discussion and go do something else.
One of the tougher parts about Easter for most is likely Easter candy. Remember - Easter candy is technically available year round! Sure maybe not in the shape of eggs or bunnies, but the candy itself. When we restrict food, it leads to an increased desire for it. Working to give yourself unconditional permission to enjoy Easter candy will actually drive desire down. This process is known as habituation, which you can read more about on the blog, here.
Along with working against physical restrictions, it’s important to bring awareness to any mental restriction that may arise. Mental restriction can sound like “I’m allowing myself to have the candy because it’s Easter, but I can’t have any tomorrow when the holiday ends” or “I am so bad for having candy today, tomorrow I will skip breakfast to make up for this”. Focus on noticing these thoughts and re-framing them to incorporate more permission, such as “I am allowed to have this candy any day of the week” or “I’m not a bad person for eating any foods because food is neither good nor bad. I enjoyed the candy tonight and will still work to eat breakfast tomorrow”.
Throughout the entire weekend of celebrating Easter (or any holidays for that matter), please practice self-compassion and be gentle with yourself. And remember, while it may seem really big and scary, it is only one weekend out of the entire year and only encompasses a few of the meals that you will eat overall in your lifetime!