Labor Day is here, which means a long weekend filled with sunshine, barbeques, and if you’re lucky, no work! Labor Day marks the end of summer and the official start of school! People like to soak up the sun while neighborhood pools are still open and before the school year gets hectic! Holidays can be hard for individuals struggling with an eating disorder, disordered eating patterns, and/or body image issues. Food is a large part of celebrating holidays in our culture! Summer holidays can be particularly hard because it typically means swimsuit season! This can be a stressful time for individuals with an eating disorder or history of an eating disorder as you may be faced with eating “fear foods” and being in a bathing suit. Check out my blog post on Swimsuit Season if this is something you or a loved one is struggling with.
So how can we still attend these events without feeling triggered and actually enjoy ourselves? First, you do not have to over-indulge because it is a holiday. Plate your meal and make sure you are including a variety of foods. Be mindful of your hunger/fullness cues. You are allowed to enjoy a slice of cake or cookie because it tastes good! Also, it is very normal to have a burger or hot dog with a couple of sides! Your body still needs energy even if you are “just” relaxing in the sun! Remember, one meal will not cause you to gain weight. Eating disorders love to isolate. If you are thinking about skipping the swim party, ask yourself why? The more you give into your eating disorder the more power you are giving it. Lastly, enjoy yourself. Practice being in the present moment. If you are worried about being in a swimsuit, know you are not alone. As a society, we hyperfocus on what others will think of us when in reality most people are more focused on themselves. With that being said, avoid body comparing — it is not helpful for anyone! If this is something you are worried about, talk to someone about it. This could be your therapist, dietitian, or supportive friend/family member.
Holidays are meant to be enjoyed. You are allowed to go to that party, eat what you (not your eating disorder) wants, and relax because you are more than deserving.
Authored by Emily Baum, M.S., RDN, LD