Eating Disorders and Stress: DBT Coping Skills for the Holidays

Eating Disorders and Stress: DBT Coping Skills for the Holidays

Eating disorders and stress tend to “feed each other.” Let’s be honest about that. This is often a triggering and stressful time of year; the holidays are rapidly approaching, the change in seasons can be tough, and it’s getting dark earlier. This particular year may be even more stressful due to the recent election, no matter what your political affiliation may be. It is very important that we pay attention to stress and try to prevent it from becoming too overwhelming. DBT can help you! DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. The word “dialectical” is defined as, “concerned with or acting through opposing forces.” This can mean that there are often two truths, or more than one truth in any given situation. If you live in Colorado you may have noticed that in mid- November the temperature was in the 70s! The holiday season can often bring on a dialectical feel: on one hand it is a time of togetherness and celebration, on the other hand it can feel isolating or lonely. There are mixed messages around food and holiday eating, too. We are surrounded with sweets and other decadent foods, yet our culture expects us to “be healthy.” This all adds to eating disorders and stress. Using the Distress Tolerance and Mindfulness modules of DBT can be very effective for combatting eating disorders and stress. If you need immediate relief and want to improve a moment follow these steps. Think of the acronym IMPROVE to help guide you. I: Use IMAGERY. You can do this by imagining a relaxing scene – either a place you have been, or create a beautiful scene in your...
Eating Disorders and Trauma: Holiday Coping Skills

Eating Disorders and Trauma: Holiday Coping Skills

The holiday season can flare up remembrance of past trauma. Perhaps it is reminders of loved ones who have created the trauma, being around non-supportive folks or maybe even how traumatic experiences occurred right around the holidays. So how then, can we wrap up trauma with a pretty little bow? Being able to wrap up or contain our trauma from affecting our daily lives is a difficult task. Here are a few ideas for how to start the process: Grounding Coping Toolbox Self-Care Grounding is a way to put you back in the present moment. This tool is helpful when experiencing flashbacks, if you start to drift off or disassociate, and to serve as a reminder that you are safe in this exact moment. To “ground” yourself, you can begin by using your five senses (i.e. sight, touch, smell, taste, hear). Using these senses, you are not only able to slow down your racing thoughts but also become reconnected with your body. When you are not grounded, the traumatic event(s) can hijack your thoughts, emotions and body. You are taken right back to that moment in time where you felt scared, powerless or stuck. Another method to grounding can be as simple as tapping your fingers on your knees or shoulders and saying “In this moment, I am safe.” A coping toolbox can also be extremely helpful to ground you and to create calm in a time of distress. Your tools can help with breathing, the release of the physiological parts of trauma and help you outside of traditional therapy sessions. Bubbles: Target and the dollar store have small...
Eating Disorders Help for the Holidays

Eating Disorders Help for the Holidays

‘Tis the season – for family gatherings, Holiday parties… and lots of food. It can be enough of a challenge to stay on course with your eating disorder recovery in your day-to-day life. It’s even more challenging when you’re triggered by your Aunt Mary’s comments about your weight, or your Grandmother’s pumpkin pie. Here are a few strategies for eating disorders help for the holidays: Know Your Triggers – Identify the people, places and events that are the most challenging for you to deal with. By acknowledging that your Aunt Mary always makes a comment about your weight, you can actually be less triggered when she makes a comment this year. She might say, “You look so good – how much weight have you lost?” Or, “What happened – you gained so much weight since the last time I saw you!” Knowing that she will make some kind of comment, you can be prepared and therefore less triggered. Similarly, knowing that you are going to a family function where you will encounter foods which can trigger your eating disorder behaviors, you can diffuse the power of the trigger simply by being aware of it. You know that your Grandmother will bring pumpkin pie – and you also know that she will push you to have a piece. You also know that she’ll give you a “sad look” if you decline to have a piece, and she’ll push you to have seconds if you agree to have one. Have a Plan to Deal with Your Triggers – After you have identified some of the main triggers you might encounter, come up with specific action steps for each. When...
Binge Eating Help for the Holidays

Binge Eating Help for the Holidays

Making Peace With Food During the Holidays Cheesecake and poundcake and fruitcake, oh my!  It can be challenging to be surrounded by so much food during the Holidays. You might tell yourself you just won’t have any of those sweet treats you really like… only to find yourself obsessing about eating them, and then ultimately binge eating and possibly purging. What would it be like to make peace with food this year during the Holidays? Binge eating help is here! Try these Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT)™ strategies at the next Holiday Buffet or Family Gathering you attend: 1. Check in with your hunger.  Your body’s unique hunger signals are a direct link to your intuitive wisdom. When you pause to align with your hunger, you can work with your body to overcome anorexic avoidance or binge behaviors. How hungry are you right now?  What subtle signs indicate you are feeling hungry? What specific food would best satisfy your hunger?  Is that specific food available at the buffet or party you’re attending?  If not, what can you substitute to adequately address your body’s need for specific nutrients? Do you have a snack with you which you could enjoy instead? 2. Check in with your desire.  The sight and smell of food can trigger a desire to eat. These desires for food can feel confusing and sometimes overwhelming. When you pause to notice your various desires for food, you can clarify your true desires and eat intuitively rather than impulsively. What specific foods do you have a desire to eat right now? Are there some which have more appeal than others? If you could only choose...