It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but holidays are very hard for children with eating disorders and their parents. Below are some tips I hope will provide you with some support and guidance this holiday season.

1. Keep to your treatment protocol. Often gathering for one large meal is different than the regularized meals eaten during treatment. Stay with your clinician’s advice.

2. Minimize stress. If getting together with large numbers of relatives or traveling long distances will raise stress beyond manageable levels, don’t do it.

3. Set expectations to be present and mindful. Often as parents we want everything to just be “normal” for one day. But, it’s important to remember, that while your child may not be able to eat that pie at the holiday gathering, your efforts are not in vain, and you are working toward a time when they can.

4. Holidays don’t last that long. It is often only an afternoon or an evening. It often seems less overwhelming to view it as a finite period of time.

5. Set new traditions that celebrate the true meaning of the holiday and don’t settle for anything less. Think about what gratitude means as a family and as a parent. Celebrate it. Create new traditions, plant a tree, or give to an animal shelter. Be positive and create a sense of family and giving to your community.

– Advice from a former parent of Walden Behavioral Care’s Adolescent IOP

For more advice, and to join the conversation on helping your child recover from an eating disorder, connect with Walden on: