If your teen is struggling with body image, weight or food issues, the holidays make it so much more stressful. This is particularly true at Thanksgiving, which is a completely food centered holiday.
According to The Huffington Post, some 10 million Americans are fighting an eating disorder. For them, the amount of food around the holiday can be downright painful. For those with anorexia, the food at Thanksgiving can be scary since there is an expectation to eat the food and enjoy it. For those suffering with bulimia or a binge eating disorder, they may be having difficulty controlling their desire to purge being surrounded by so many triggers. However, there are ways that you can not only help your teen survive the holiday, but enjoy it.
While you may be busy cooking, cleaning, or visiting with family throughout the day, don’t forget to check in with your teen and see how they are doing. Additionally, you might suggest that they reach out to a friend that they can check in with throughout the day to give them an outlet to vent. Make sure they know that they are not alone.
The Huffington Post says that your teen should have a game plan. Encourage your teen to eat a healthy breakfast. Maybe they decide to avoid the pre-meal snacks so they can focus on the main meal. At the main meal, they can then make choices that are deliberate.
Ignore the Diet Talk
There is no avoiding the diet talk. As everyone is over indulging at the dinner table it is almost certain that someone will bring up how much they will need to exercise after the meal. Or how they are going to starve themselves after consuming a week’s worth of calories. It is important to talk to your teen about the possibility of this happening so that they can remind themselves that other people’s food issues are not also theirs. Encourage them to not feel guilty about what they are eating nor deprive themselves either.
Focus on Gratitude
While it may seem like it is all about the feast, it is really about thankfulness. Help redirect your teen’s focus from the feast to something or someone that they are thankful for. Maybe have everyone go around the table and say what they are grateful for to help further cement that focus.
Encourage your teen to enjoy their Thanksgiving meal and the special time with friends and family and most importantly, their thankfulness. If you find that your teen needs additional support, reach out to someone that specializes in eating disorders. Happy Thanksgiving!