9 Ways to Manage Binge Eating Disorder During the Holidays

Medically Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on May 15, 2023
3 min read

Tempting feasts are often a part of holiday celebrations. These 9 tips can help you enjoy the season without risking a binge.

1. Build a Support Team

Positive support from family and friends can improve your body image and make you less likely to eat in an unhealthy way. Before the holiday season starts, talk to people you plan to spend time with. Tell them about your binge eating disorder, if you haven't already, and ask them to help you avoid your triggers. Tell them that negative comments don’t help. Suggest that they keep their comments positive and encouraging.

2. Create a Holiday Eating Plan

You'll be less stressed or anxious about eating if you think about it beforehand. Review your planned holiday meals with your doctor or dietitian. Talk about the foods that you expect to see. (Ask the hosts ahead of time if you're not sure.)Then, write up your holiday plan: Think about where and what you'll eat, how you'll limit portion sizes, and how you'll stop eating when you should. In some cases, you might decide to skip an event to avoid temptation or stress.

3. Host the Party

If you have the party, you'll have more control over the food choices. Fill your holiday table with healthy options, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese, and baked chicken bites. Keep the portions -- and plates -- small, so you'll be less likely to eat too much. If you go to someone's party, offer to bring your own healthy dish.

4. Eat Before You Head Out

Don't skip meals ahead of a holiday party or dinner. You'll be more likely to binge. Instead, eat a snack beforehand. A few carrot sticks, some broccoli, a small fruit salad, or a handful of almonds will fill you up, so you'll be less interested in the party food.

5. Don't Deprive Yourself

If your doctor says it's OK, go ahead and have a cookie or another treat when you get to the party. Allow yourself some of the foods you love at this time of year. Avoiding every goodie will only make you want them more, and you'll be more likely to binge. Ask a doctor how you can have a holiday treat and still stay on track.

6. Step Away From the Buffet

Food can't tempt you if you can't see it. Make one plate and sit or stand as far from the food table as possible. Surround yourself with family or friends to take your mind off the buffet table.

7. Eat Slowly

Take small bites and chew everything slowly. You'll feel like you've eaten more than you really have. Once your plate is empty, get up and walk away from the table before you have a chance to refill it.

8. Think About Your Drinks

Holiday drinks can pack as many calories as food. (Eggnog has nearly 350 calories in a single cup!) Alcohol can also boost your appetite and make you overeat. Apply the same rules to your glass as you would to your plate. You don't have to steer clear of the bar, but order lighter or alcohol-free drinks, like cranberry juice and seltzer.

9. Find Healthy Distractions

When the food table beckons, find something else to do. Go for a walk with a friend, wrap presents, or play a game of touch football.