Holiday Trigger Tools

Nikki Ostrower, Founder of Nao Wellness, and I started an eating disorder support group in December of 2017. We wanted to give back to others and help build an eating disorder recovery community in NYC. Our first meeting was centered around holiday stressors. Collectively, we created a list of ways to handle the holidays in a healthy way.

  1. Buddy Up – Ask someone you feel comfortable with in your network to be your accountability buddy.  Text before and after the meal that is stressing you out, share your action plan with your buddy, or create a different plan that works for you. You can also bring them with you to the event or dinner for support.
  2. Writing/Journaling – Writing down your feelings instead of eating them, stuffing them, purging them, or restricting them can truly help when you are struggling. It can help to see on paper what’s causing you pain. It can even help to read it to a friend.
  3. Avoid Showing Up Starving – Have a snack before showing up to the event.
  4. Stay Hydrated.
  5. Eat Mindfully – Slow down and fully chew your food. Enjoy conversation and company.
  6. Drink Alcohol Consciously – Enjoy one drink and then have a seltzer.  Set boundaries on the amount you are going to drink before it becomes triggering.
  7. Bookend – Challenge yourself to use a recovery tool before and after your triggering event.
  8. Be Present – Focus on the company and being present to all the greatness around you. Actively think about gratitude and things that make you feel grateful in your surroundings.
  9. Gratitude list – Write a list of five things you are grateful for and why.
  10. Plan Your Work & Work Your Plan – Make a plan that you know will be satisfying and recovery-filled. Ask your support team for help if you need it.
  11. Create Loving Boundaries with Triggering People – Be prepared for triggering people that might be at the event and create an action plan. It can help to come up with a phrase if you encounter someone who can easily hurt your feelings. For example, you can say “I appreciate your opinion or suggestion” and politely walk away from that person if needed.
  12. Be Mindful of Trigger Foods & It’s OK to Say No – There will be plenty of safe times to challenge yourself to a trigger food.  Don’t force yourself to a challenge if you are in a stressful environment.
  13. Be Honest with Family & Friends – You may need extra support at the event. Don’t be shy to ask for help whether it’s taking someone to the bathroom to avoid a purge or telling someone what your action plan is. This will help you feel supported at all times at your event with family and friends that care about you.