The holiday season is a time for people to get together and celebrate the new year coming and the one behind. Everyone has their own celebrations but it is a tricky balance for people in recovery. You may be wanting to work on overall health and fitness while staying sober, but all the food and myriad snacks and treats can get in the way of this health routine. When it comes to planning out how to navigate the holidays without feeling triggered, it pays to look at how to stay healthy, as well, and keep moving forward in recovery with a mindset focused on health and wellness. 

Mindful Eating

One of the best ways to approach the holiday season in recovery is to eat mindfully. Though this applies to everything (every day), the holidays are an especially challenging time to be mindful. Distracted eating leads to people gaining more weight, eating more quickly, and enjoying their food much less than normal. Distractions take attention away and the brain is not comprehending what it is eating. Tibetan monks often practice for years how to eat mindfully, simply, and with intention. They focus on each bite, each moment, and savor the flavors and textures. This lets the body comprehend the experience and gives them a sense of being full, even when they may be eating less than what we normally think of as a portion. 

Love What You Eat

If you are going to a party or event and you are not sure what will be there, bring something. Bring foods you know you love and that you will enjoy. You may not consume extra calories but you will enjoy them. If you are a fan of mince pies, arrange to meet a friend that makes them. You can gain more pleasure from this than mindlessly bingeing on treats and snacks. Make it a mindful, joyful experience to learn how to love what you eat. 

Food is Good

Depending on how you process experiences or whether or not the food was an issue with addiction, it helps to remember food is good. Overall, food is beneficial to keep the body going. Eating the right foods is important so that you can eat and feel your best. There are some foods that can take away from your feeling healthy overall, including sugar and caffeine, along with carbs. People who overeat consume more food that is bad for them than is good. But to ban food with a strict diet plan can also lead to improper eating habits. Make sure to touch base with a doctor and wellness practitioners who can support your overall plan to be healthy with the right foods and veggies.

Give Permission

The wintertime is hard enough without being hard on yourself for what you are struggling with. When you are stressed, your body releases cortisol. Consistently high levels increase the ability of fat cells to store fat and promote the accumulation of fat around the waist. Stress-related eating is linked to weight gain. The more stress a person feels, the more important it is to look after themselves by taking time to eat a nourishing lunch or running a bath. Self-care is not selfish. The holiday season gives people permission to look after themselves and prioritize health. When people feel their best, they have more energy and headspace to offer others. 

Send Away Leftovers

Don’t keep the leftovers around. Sugary, fatty, and salty foods change how the body and brain chemistry work. This triggers reward circuits and stimulates the release of dopamine. Even seeing foods high in sugar and fat triggers the reward circuitry of the brain. Different foods invoke different responses in people. Stay on track and feel more in control by knowing which foods you find hard to resist and give those away to family and friends. 

Offer Forgiveness

End of the day, it is okay to binge on some food around the holidays. When it becomes out of control, or a way of compensating for not being able to drink or use drugs during the holidays, it may be time to seek extra support. Crossover addiction is a real challenge for people in recovery. Research shows self-compassion promotes resilience. To be more resilient in recovery, you might need to put down the fork and stop eating that turkey at some point. Or, it might just serve you to have that extra piece of pie and not worry too much about it until after the first of the year. After all, the holidays only come once in a while and you are less likely to feel overwhelmed and more likely to take responsibility once you begin the journey of moving forward with a solid health plan in place.

At Burning Tree Ranch, you will find knowledgeable and compassionate professionals that structure treatment to fit individual needs, including the identification of co-occurring disorders.  We help you develop a plan that is holistic to meet your needs while following the 12-step process for recovery. Every individual needs their own roadmap for the journey. We help co-create and design a recovery that will support you in getting off drugs or alcohol and finding hope for recovery. Call us to find out more: 855-791-7142.