Eat The Cake: How to survive the Holidays in recovery.

 My back tattoo is the logo for the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). Many people in recovery get this tattooed as a symbol of their journey. 

My back tattoo is the logo for the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). Many people in recovery get this tattooed as a symbol of their journey. 

The holiday season can be extremely rough for any one recovering from an eating disorder.

With food being the focal point at any event, feeling overwhelmed and triggered is natural. I am here to remind you that it is okay to eat what you want.

Here are some tips in order to stay healthy this holiday season…


Make a plan.

Talk to a therapist or loved one before events if you think they may be triggering.  Asking for extra support during this time is important. This also lets your support system know how they can help you if you are triggered. I have mantras I keep on a note in my phone, that is filled with healthy reminders or self love if I ever need a pick me up.


Track your food, in a healthy way.

There is an app called Recovery Record that is specifically for those fighting or in recovery of an eating disorder.  It allows you to log your meal without putting calories next to it. It checks in to see how you are feeling and what coping skills you used in order to be successful in staying on tract. Every time you eat, it gives you a motivational quote and inspirational image.


Let yourself eat anything!

No food is off limits. No foods are bad or evil. You are able to eat anything that is available. Om nom nom.


Bring a side dish.

Worried that there may not be healthy options? Bring your own! Thanksgiving, as much as I love it, can always be triggering. I also make sure to help cook and provide some healthier options.  Get yourself in the kitchen and make more safe foods that will help make your meal a little easier.


Know what words and phrases trigger you.

Any time someone says “I don’t need to eat for a few days” or “I hate so much, I feel gross” or something along those lines, I tell myself that that is a trigger phrase and they are wrong. Their comments are not your reality, and do not lead to a positive and healthy mindset. If you eat a large meal, you can still eat the next day. If someone ate too much they feel gross, you are not gross for also eating. Disassociate yourself from any phrases that could be detrimental towards your well-being. If you can, let people know ahead of time that those phrases affect you.


Give yourself a pep talk.

Before meals, I have to remind myself sometimes it’s okay to eat. With holiday parties, I have to give myself these talks constantly. Tell yourself the purpose and the value of this meal. “I am going to get a taste of all the food I want to try, allow myself to enjoy it, and engage in loving, supportive conversations with my family and friends”. Remind yourself you are worthy and accepting of this and it’s okay to have your cake and eat it, too.


Keep active.

Prioritizing healthy exercise, and making time in order to fulfill that need is essential. It also helps relieve any holiday stress that may be building. If you go to the gym, give yourself a time limit for the cardio machine (not a calorie minimum) and hit those weights. My favorite way to sweat during this time is a group exercise class that allows you to have fun in a supportive environment. Start a dance party at the holiday party. Or take a walk with a friend for something more low-key. Being active with others takes the pressure off the exercise and allows you time to connect with others, benefiting yourself not only physically, but mentally, and emotionally as well!


Listen to Beyoncé.

Seriously… Music can be extremely powerful in helping improve moods. Create a playlist that makes you happy and reminds you how much of a boss a$$ b*tch you really are. I have a go to playlist I listen to whenever its necessary and dance and sing it at the top of my lungs like no one is watching.

Feel free to listen to my badb*tch playlist available on Spotify.


End your day with gratitude.

Before you go to sleep at night, acknowledge the accomplishments you made in the day. Be grateful for your progress and the patience you have with yourself in recovery. Think of at least 3 things that you are proud of yourself for.


You are allowed to sit around a table with people important to you and share stories over food. To be present with them, and not judge yourself based off what is on your plate.

Be gentle with yourself and let yourself enjoy the experiences as much as you can.  Take it day-by-day, hour-by-hour, and minute-by-minute when it comes to it. You are worth staying strong over.

Have your cake, and eat it, too.




Alyssa Root