(Trigger Warning: disordered eating, addiction)

This holiday season, we’re exploring what it means to be cozy, mindful homebodies. This time of the year can presentunique questions about how to navigate mental health, relationships, and wellness with compassion and care. We’re dialoging with you about the issues that matter to you as you head Homebody for the Holidays.

By Jordan Metzman

It feels wrong when people call me a picky eater. I love greens, grains, legumes; and the more colorful the veggie, the better. But, despite my passion for produce and poultry, I’ve always had a lot of trouble deviating from my eating routine. I love to eat meals from my mental cookbook and experience anxiety when asked to stray. So, instead of the label of “picky eater,” I’d rather call myself a particular one.

While navigating my food-related rituals (and the ways people like to publicly bring them up) is a work in progress for me, therapy has helped me regain control over my food anxiety. Somehow, inevitably, the holidays always reignite the stress though. As the time for gathering approaches, I find myself with FOMO (fear of missing out) on reconnecting with friends and family because I don’t always love grabbing drinks or dinner.

And I know I’m not alone. From disordered eating to digestive illness or a family history of alcoholism, eating and sipping your way through the holiday season might not be so merry for you. I want you to know I see you.

Since I’ve had this on my mind lately, and I suspect many of you have too, I thought I’d pose the question to our community.

Here’s what you — the GNI community — said about how you work through uncomfy food and drink feelings during the holidays:

“Do not be afraid/ashamed to say ‘no thank you’ to events with family who have disrespected your eating decisions in the past. Eat what YOU want, not what anyone else says that you ‘must try!’ You don’t have to eat or drink anything that you do not want to. Aim to eat similarly to how you eat everyday but add in those special holiday treats that you love. For example, I fill half of my plate with vegetables because that’s how I normally eat. Another tip - bring a dish that you love!! I always bring Brussels sprouts so I know there will be a green veggie, and I love sharing them with loved ones.” - Elly

“A tip for those of us who don’t know what it’s like to be have an addiction or disorder: DO NOT pressure anyone to eat or drink anything! Even if you think it’s well-meaning (ie. “one drink won’t hurt!” or putting more food on someone’s plate without being asked to do so). DO NOT make any comments about how much/little or what someone is eating (ie. “You eat like a bird.” Or “What, no meat?!”). And DO NOT under any circumstances comment on anyone’s weight loss or weight gain.” - Jean

aSweatLife covered this recently too! I think most important is confiding in a friend if possible and knowing that it’s okay to say no to or leave a party.” - Kristen

“Try and treat yourself like you would your best friend or that cute little kid in your life. Would you judge them for having holiday cookies or getting up from the table to go have a moment by themselves? You would probably feel proud of them! While it’s easy to be hard on ourselves during this time, it’s the season of giving. So why not give yourself a little compassion and ease?” - Emma

“A lot of people’s personal struggles with food or drink may be invisible to you or even to the closest people in their lives. I think the key is to not make any assumptions. Even if you think it’s something they ‘shouldn’t feel embarrassed about,’ it’s likely they may not want to provide a public explanation about a digestive issue or family history of alcoholism, just because you asked why they weren’t digging into your DIY cocktail station.” - Tyler, GNI Team

“If you’re experiencing something food- or drink-related, I recommend bringing along someone that’s prepared to change the subject (or do an activity away from the food table!) if anything triggering comes up. And don’t be afraid to stop by and let your friend know in advance that you can’t stay for long.” - Anonymous

Do you have any favorite ways to celebrate the holidays away from food and drink? Let us know in the comments below. 👇

Image by Steve Johnson on Unsplash.