Recovering from an eating disorder is not an overnight event. It’s a process that takes time and will most likely have its ups and downs. It tends to transition through different phases, so having the resources you’ll need along your journey to recovery is important.

Holidays Are Challenging

For many coping with an eating disorder, holidays are challenging – all holidays, not just Thanksgiving and Christmas. The 4th of July, for example, can be a trigger for destructive behavior.

Like most American holidays, food is a large component of our 4th of July celebrations. If you look at ads for local restaurants, for example, you’ll see most offering specials on meals and alcohol. You’ll see baked goods, confections and all sorts of goodies touted as treats necessary for celebrating the nation’s birth.

Tackle the 4th of July

As the holiday approaches, it is important that you plan for dealing with it. Regardless of the type of eating disorder, you’re struggling with, there are steps you can take to get through the celebrations.

  1. Just another day. Rather than stress over plotting specific restrictions or spending time poring over menus to decide what you will allow yourself to eat, treat the 4th of July like any other day. Plan to eat three balanced meals throughout the day. Avoiding alcohol is also a good idea; this will help keep your appetite, energy levels and emotions in check.
  2. Plan your meals. Prepare yourself to eat foods that you’re comfortable eating. If there are certain foods that work as triggers for anxiety or harmful behaviors, give yourself permission not to eat them.
  3. Take a friend along. If you’re fearful of an eating disorder flare-up at a social gathering, take a trusted friend along with you. Work out a signal – such as a hand gesture or special phrase – to indicate you need to exit.
  4. Dress for yourself. Clothing choice can be a stressor for some people who are recovering from an eating disorder. Wear clothing that’s comfortable, physically and emotionally for you. Go for your favorite color and fabric or whatever makes you feel your best.
  5. Use your “opt out” option. Remember that you are not obligated to put yourself in any situation you’re not ready to face. You have permission to opt out. You can politely opt out without giving any more details than you feel ready to give.

Focus on Fun

Make your 4th of July about having fun and enjoying yourself. Focus on things that interest you and the interests of those around you – make the day about fun, not food.