Easter with an eating disorder can be challenging. Like other major holidays and events, you may be expected to spend time in large groups and often there’s food involved. I can recall my first easter in recovery as being possibly one of the most horrible experiences of my life. My mother was trying to force me to eat a Cadbury’s egg alongside a massive dinner serving. There was no such thing as ‘empathy‘ or ‘understanding‘ around the disorder at the time, specifically in my family home. They didn’t understand that eating not only a large meal but also chocolate within a few hours was the most terrifying thing in the world to me. That day ended as most did at the time; In tears and turmoil.
Now, I rarely go home for holidays. Instead, I choose to spend them either working or with my very understanding husband. But on the occasion I’m expected to attend Easter or similar events, I’m better equipped to deal with the emotional storm that comes with it.
Here are just a few ways you can survive Easter with an eating disorder.
12+ Ways to survive Easter with an eating disorder.
Take some time out to look out for number one! (That’s you).
It’s important to remember your own self-care during this time. How do you decompress and deal with the anxiety of an eating disorder? And how can you improve on that? Think about things like taking time to be alone, reading a book, taking a relaxing bath or even, if you’re allowed, going for a walk. Self-care doesn’t have to be fancy, it can be as quick and simple as going for a cup of coffee alone in your favourite cafe. Or, even simpler, reciting any recovery affirmations you have on hand. You can even cater them to the easter period.
- “I am good enough and I deserve to spend time with my family/friends.”
- “I can eat a chocolate egg if I want because it’s only an egg.”
- “I am worthy of love and respect.”
Easter is possibly one of the most awkward holidays. It doesn’t land on the same day or even the same month every year which can make it a pain to plan. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and gather the key information you’ll need to have a reasonably stress-free holiday.
If you celebrate Easter with family, don’t be afraid to ask where you’re going, what food will be served and who might be attending. This will make it easier for you to navigate coping skills, and arrange support. Not only do these preparations make Easter feel less overwhelming, but they also help you to lay out clear boundaries in regard to situations or conversations you may be involved in.
Stick to your normal, everyday routine.
As with most holidays, this can be easier said than done. But in order to survive easter with an eating disorder, you need to stick to your normal routine. Especially in early recovery. You might feel inclined to change your eating patterns, but it’s important you eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and all the snacks in between just as you would with any other day of the year.
It’s also important to remember to listen to your body at this time too. During some Easter celebrations, lunch or dinner is included, and these can be quite large. While it’s important that we eat during recovery, it’s also important that we don’t push ourselves beyond comfortable limits. Don’t be afraid to set the fork down if you’re feeling too full. Alternatively, you could speak with the host about plating your own serving so that it feels more manageable.
Take the focus away from food.
At the dinner table use the time to socialise. While there is food, it’s not about the food. It’s about spending time with friends and family!
Do something you love with the easter vacation.
If you’re in school or a job that recognises easter vacation, do something you love with your time off! Go to the movies, visit your favourite local attraction or catch up with friends! If you’re more of an introvert who enjoys video games or being creative at home, then that’s cool too.
Reward yourself – even for the small things.
Whether you’re in recovery from an eating disorder or just reading this for self-care advice, reflect on your year-to-date and reward yourself. Yes, even for the small things!
Reflect on how far you’ve come.
It can be difficult to cope with large family gatherings in recovery. Whether it’s the bombardment of people, the meal, or something else entirely, sometimes it can all be too much. It’s important to remember how far you’ve come at times like these. And how far you can still go. As I say at Christmas, birthdays and any time when large family meals are given; This is just one day in your life. There are many more to come and, soon, this one won’t matter as much as it does at the moment.
Create Easter decorations with friends, partners or family.
Being creative can be the key to overcoming difficult emotions. Even if you’re creating things that have nothing to do with your current feelings or situation, it can help create a much-needed distraction. And as it’s Easter, why not create some Easter decorations?
This can be a great joint activity for you and your loved ones. Or you can tackle it alone! I’ve found several tutorials online, all of which are focused on ‘cheap’ materials for beginners!
Use ‘easter chicks’ instead of chocolate eggs for your easter hunt.
If an easter egg hunt is among your usual plans, why not replace these with easter chicks? These can be easily obtained from places such as Amazon or your local craft shop. Traditional, you keep and eat the chocolate eggs you find. But if you’re not quite ready, easter chicks are a wonderful alternative.
Plant and decorate an easter tree. Or decorate a pre-existing tree!
Easter is the perfect time to get together and plant a tree. This could be a tree in memory of a loved one, or a small, ‘infant‘ tree to watch grow. Or, you can simply choose to decorate a ‘pre-existing’ tree with coloured easter eggs, bunnies and even little chicks!
I keep talking about easter chicks as if they are a common thing everywhere but Ireland. If you’re interested in what I mean, check them out here. My grandmother loved these and every easter had an array of these hiding all over the house. We were still finding them when we were renovating after she passed away. These small, seemingly useless little creatures spark the most beautiful core memory in my mind each and every time I see them.
Boil eggs and marble the eggshell. Or paint it!
If you haven’t heard of egg marbling, then allow me to introduce you. I’ve been obsessed with marbling techniques since watching Tik Tok in early 2020. And I think it’s a great way to reimagine an old easter pastime of painting boiled eggs.
We used our decorated eggs to take part in the ‘egg and spoon‘, or hide for our easter treasure hunts along with chocolate ones. How cute would it be to hide these colourful beauties?
If you’re religious, attend your local easter service or correlation celebration.
I often have to stop and remind myself that while I may not be traditionally religious, many people are. In fact, I grew up in a Christain household and always attended various religious holidays. Many people find comfort in religion, and if you’re one of them, why not attend church? Or, if you’re curious, tag along with family or friends.
You might find the things you’ve been looking for in your journey, be it recovery, grief or something entirely different.
Remember there are people to reach out to.
It’s important to remember that there are people to reach out to, even during the holidays. Whether it’s a list of close personal friends or professional helplines, it’s a good idea to have a few numbers on hand. Even if you don’t intend to use them, it’s possible to feel better knowing that you have the option.
If you’re within the UK, here are a few organisations to turn to.
Spend time in nature and plant some flowers (specifically daffodils).
Nature can be a wonderful tool to help us decompress. It’s been proven to help relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression, both of which come hand in hand with an eating disorder. Why not take some time out to go for a walk or plant some flowers in your garden?
Declutter your clothes!
If it’s warm enough where you are, why not spend the time putting your winter clothes away and making way for warmer weather? Better yet, donate some of your old clothes to charity and make way for the new! This is especially important when you’re recovering from an eating disorder. Holding onto old ‘sick’ clothes may feel comfortable, but realistically removing them removes the temptation to ‘fit back into them.’
If you’re feeling triggered, don’t forget to take some time away from the conversation.
Finally, it’s important that if you’re navigating easter with an eating disorder you take time away from triggering conversations. Don’t allow yourself to sit in while others discuss calories, dieting, exercise or anything else that could be a potential trigger. Excuse yourself and practice self-care elsewhere. It may appear rude, but you need to put your mental health first in recovery. And if your loved ones can’t understand that then remind yourself that it’s not your fault. You can’t control how others interpret or react to a situation, and that includes how they cope with your boundaries.