The holiday season is finally upon us. As the calendars turn over to the winter months, families, friends and loves ones across the nation will soon start to gather to celebrate the festivities. First on the docket is Thanksgiving.
"Thanksgiving is a celebration, but also a time to be aware of issues that are compounded by holiday pressures."
An interesting holiday because of its ability to evoke painful family tensions as much as cheerful memories, Thanksgiving can be a tricky event for any host. It's also a holiday with particular triggers for those who've struggled with substance abuse or an eating disorder. Alcoholic drinks are more regularly imbibed during the holidays, especially during Thanksgiving dinner and afterward, which can create pressure-filled situations that may lead an affected or recuperating individual to drink to cope or fit in. If for nothing else, Thanksgiving is famous for overindulgence on food, heaps of turkey and third plates on second plates. Imagine then the intense stress or anxiety and loathing a person with an eating disorder may experience – hardly a warm, holiday feeling.
It's important for hosts, family and friends to recognize these potential triggers (as well as to look for signs of a hidden condition) during Thanksgiving. Everyone deserves a happy holiday, and here's what you can do to help that happen:
Keep an eye open at the table for excessive drinking, have options for other beverages
Anybody hosting Thanksgiving day certainly has a lot on their plate to manage, from the menu to the guests to chairs for the kids table. One duty they should not forget, however, is to ask anyone attending about accommodations they would need in light of recent or continuing sobriety. It's an easy enough consideration to slip through the cracks given all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but will be highly appreciated by any family, friends or significant others with struggles in their past.
A couple steps to take include: ensuring there are ample options for nonalcoholic beverages and cutting off those who've maybe had too much so as not to create a hostile environment.
But not everyone will always be forthcoming with their struggles with alcohol, as it is a difficult condition to confront, much less talk about. Anybody at Thanksgiving, and not just hosts, should know how to spot potential problem drinking. Something to be particularly watchful for is making holiday excuses for overconsumption and pretending to be sober. Covering up being intoxicated or playing it off due to the occasion can be indicators that something deeper may be amiss.
If you're drinking, try to pace yourself; and as always, be vigilant in making sure nobody drives after having too much to drink. More motor fatalities related to alcohol use are recorded during the holidays, and everyone at the table has a responsibility in preventing tragedy.
Be conscious of the pressure to eat on Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is almost singularly known for being the holiday where it's OK to eat more than is normally socially acceptable. While that's oversimplifying the issue, think about it from the perspective of someone who's struggled with an eating disorder: Not only are they encouraged to eat more, but even feel pressured to do so. As a Thanksgiving host or anybody else attending, it's important to take some measures to ensure the day is enjoyable for everyone:
- Make it about more than the food: While Thanksgiving dinner and desserts will also be a central feature of the day, there's still a number of hours in the day that can be used for other activities. Planning family holiday-themed games and even watching a seasonal movie together can provide needed respite from all the focus and talk of food.
- Avoid talk about appearances: Though there's nothing as quintessentially Thanksgiving as the collective unloosening of belts after dinner, the situation can be an uncomfortable one if someone attending has an eating disorder. Try to be cognizant of talk or comments about bodies and appearances, though it is difficult to keep in mind.
Thanksgiving is a beginning of a run of winter celebrations, but it's still as good a time as ever to find help for you or a loved one who struggles with a issue that's compounded by holiday pressures. Substance abuse and eating disorders are sensitive problems to address. Fairwinds Treatment Centers operates a number of locations where interested individuals can seek help or assistance, contact us today.