The world is judgmental. It would be great if people didn’t judge others on seemingly every little thing. It would even be better if everyone liked everyone else, but sadly this in not the case.

For individuals and families struggling with eating disorders, the holidays can be a particularly difficult time of year. There are expectations, family members who say the wrong things, and celebrations that focus on a meal.  These triggers can make for a stressful holiday time. The good news is, you can learn to avoid the triggers and make your holidays happy. Here are some eating disorder treatment pointers to help.

For individuals:

  • Let go of perfectionistic ideas and behaviors. Free yourself from the shame of imperfection.
  • Communicate honestly. Be proactive by letting others know what you need, so they don’t have to assume.
  • Take time for yourself. Make your holiday time more than just the meal.  Play a family game.  Go for a walk.
  • Delegate. Don’t do everything yourself!
  • Listen to yourself. Pause and identify how you are really feeling.

For Families:

  • Be aware of the triggers.
  • Validate and support. A comment like this works well: “I don’t know what you’re going through, but I want you to know, I care, and I’m here for you.”
  • Don’t focus on food, weight, body, or body image. Diet talk after a holiday meal is a big trigger!
  • Don’t ask how they are doing. Better is to greet them with “It’s so good to see you. I’m glad you could make it over.”
  • Get support. The recovery process takes time. Educate yourself to help you cope.


Healthy Futures specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, but also offers other specialized counseling. Contact us today at (480) 451-8500.


Jeanne Phillips: Hello, my name is Jeanne Phillips. I’m a therapist and life coach as well as certified eating disorder specialist at Healthy Futures. On behalf of myself and my wonderful staff, I’m saying the holidays are here. Although it’s the most romanticized time of the year, it’s probably one of the most difficult times of the year for individuals with eating disorders and their families.

I would like to take a little bit of your time, and give you some pointers as to how to survive the holidays. For my patients out there who are struggling, I would say, “Let go of your perfectionistic ideas and behaviors.” That will only trigger your shame. Listen to your body, use your skills.

Let people know what you’re wanting. Be honest, be authentic in your communication. They can’t read your mind. I want you to know for sure that you’re going to be triggered by those people out there, who think they’re saying good things to you to help you get through this, but often times, you know what your triggers are. Use your skills, not to let that put you in a funk.

Take time for yourself, do things outside of just focusing on the meal. Before or after, play games with your family, go for a walk, watch a movie that’ll probably make you cry because that’s how Christmas movies always are, but that’s OK as well. Don’t focus on doing everything by yourself. Delegate, delegate, delegate.

I want you to think about this. Many of you out there feel like, “Oh, my gosh, I feel fat.” Fat’s not a feeling. What I would say to you, when that happens, I want you to think back and say, “No, I’m feeling fearful. I’m feeling anxious, and I’m feeling threatened.” I want you to breathe, and I want you to step back, and listen to your body.

For you folks out there who are supporting your loved ones, it’s really important that you be able to be aware of what their triggers are, not walk on eggshells, but at least be aware of what their triggers are.

This is a really hard one for individuals out there because they often times don’t understand the language of eating disorders and when a patient comes to them or a child or spouse, and talks about what they’re feeling, often times they can’t understand what that’s about because they’ve not experienced that.

I’d suggest to you, please, just validate and support. You can even say, “I don’t know what you’re going through, but I want you to know, I care, and I’m here for you.”

Family members, don’t focus on food, weight, body, or body image. Please don’t talk about how you’re going to go on a diet after the first of the year, very triggering. Besides diets don’t work, so why set yourself up as well.

It’s also really important when you address a patient or your loved one again that you ask them not how they’re doing, but rather, “It’s so good to see you. I’m glad you could make it over,” because saying, “How are you?” or “Oh, you’re looking great,” huge triggers, just a little beware there.

Lastly, what I would recommend is you find support for yourself because eating disorder recovery is a process. Your loved one didn’t get this way overnight and he or she is not going to get better overnight. Educate yourself, so you too can survive the recovery process. On behalf of myself and my dream team at Healthy Futures, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday.

Many people ask themselves, “Why me? Why did this happen? Why am I like this?”  But, when we answer these questions, we tap into our shame and guilt.  This leads to negative thinking that we are a terrible person.

Instead, when you ask why, ask a different question.  Ask, “How can I?”  Turn it into a motivational question that can lead to finding a solution.  “How can I find a solution to this problem? How can I learn from this?”  This will take the blame off you and give you some control in solving your problem with a positive solution.

The questions you ask yourself can change your thinking and change your life to a more positive future.  Dr. Kim DiRé, a Psychotherapist from Healthy Futures in Scottsdale explains this in the following video.  Contact Healthy Futures in Scottsdale if you would like to change your future to something more positive and visit our website at

Dr. Kim DiRé:  Hello. My name is Dr. Kim DiRé. Oftentimes, patients come into my office and they ask the question why? “Why me? Why did this happen? Why am I like this?”

I’m going to offer to you a new way to be when you hear why or when you ask why. Oftentimes, why, we answer it like, “I’m awful.” We tap into our shame and guilt by answering why. “I’m a terrible person because I did this awful thing in my past.”

I offer that when you ask why, that’s a prompt to a cue to asking a question of, “How can I? How can I become more motivational, become a way to a solution?” Instead of why me, or how can I move to this difficult situation, or how can I learn from this. Use the how can I to find a solution that’s more meaningful. It takes the blame off of you.

The next time you ask the question why, try asking, how can I, and see how fast you come up with a positive solution. Thank you.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy, also known as DBT, helps clients gain skills they can use in stressful moments.  Often times we go let our minds play the “what if” game and it takes us to a negative place.  “What if I don’t get the job?”  And the stressful moment becomes worse just imagining the bad that would come of that.

With DBT training, you can use imagination to help improve the moment.  Imagination is a fascinating thing that we all use.  We take something in our mind and create a pictorial story.  If you can capture the skill of imagination, you can use it to send positive messages and better sensations to your body.

The next time you play the “what if” game, use imagination to imagine a positive outcome.  See yourself thinking about the job, interviewing for the job and getting the job.  The  sensations you send your body will actually help you get that job, and you’ll feel less stressed.

Using imagination is one of the life skills you can learn with DBT training.  In the following video, Dr. Kim DiRe, a Psychotherapist from Healthy Futures explains more.  If you would like to find a skills for life class based on Dialectical Behavior Therapy, contact us and visit our website at

Dr. Kim DiRe:  Hi. My name is Kim DiRe’ and I’m a psychotherapist. I use Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT, to help clients work with skills that they can use in stressful moments, or times when they need to regulate.

One of the skills is to improve the moment. One of the improve the moment skills is to use imagination. Imagination’s a fascinating thing because we all use it. We take something in our mind and we create a story with it that doesn’t have a sight in order to tell the story, but something that gives us a picture in our mind. Children use it all the time. If you can capture the skill of imagination, you can use it to your benefit to set up great things that are going to be inspirational and send better sensations to your body.

Oftentimes, we use imagination to do the what ifs and the negative, but here’s how we could use it to what ifs in the positive and create something that’s going to be helpful. Let’s say, for example, you’re applying for a job. If you use your imagination to think about the job – sitting in that job, getting the job, getting the call from the job, that you’ve got it – then how it feels to have this job and be successful, that’s going to inspire you and give you sensations that will help you in the interview, and even the motivation to fill out the application in the first place.

Oftentimes, we use the motivation or imagination to the negative, where we’re going, “What if I don’t get the job?” If you’re going to do that what if, do it to the positive, because in our imagination we can change all kinds of things. Make sure you change it to your favor, and try imagination for the next time you want to start to feel better, using sensations from your imagination, to give a reality to something that’s going to be successful or beneficial for you.

Thank you.