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In the last post, I talked about the holidays, but here I want to focus specifically on the office Holiday Party. This can be particularly triggering for many people. And for many people who suffer from binge eating and social anxiety, the holiday party is an anxiety provoking nightmare. And when you suffer from binge eating disorder, these parties might be the perfect recipe for a binge. Even if you don’t binge during the party, the buildup and stress about the party might cause you to binge either before or after the party. Here are some tips to help these parties go smoothly and to help you avoid a binge.

1.)Bring a date. This doesn’t have to be a romantic date, it can be your sister or your brother or your best friend or your neighbor. Just make sure that you have someone there to support you.

2.)Before you go, try to relax, breathe, and mediate. Remember that you are not the only person at a party who is nervous.Relax and watch a good movie to take your mind off the anxiety.

3.)Make a goal to talk to 5 new people. Plan on what you’d like to talk about. Coming armed with questions is always a good move. Ask people things like: how do you know the host? what do you do? do you have travel plans for the holidays?

4.)While you’re at the party, don’t try to sample every different food. Pay more attention to the person you’re with or talking to other people.  Holiday parties can be hard because of the variety of food. There is a temptation to sample everything. Pick a couple of things to eat and sit down and eat slowly and mindfully. Remember that food is plentiful and you can always make a choice to try a new food or cook a new food that you’ve not tried before.  Don’t eat standing up and don’t lose track of what and how much you’re eating . This could lead to a binge later.

5.)Don’t drink too much alcohol. Before you go, give yourself a limit as to how many drinks you will have and be accountable for that. Often people try to combat social anxiety with alcohol and it usually backfires, causing the anxiety (and  hangover bingeing) the next day.

6.)You don’t have to stay. It’s okay to go, make an appearance, say hello to a few select people and leave.

7.)You don’t even have to go. What is the cost benefit analysis?  Will going cause more anxiety and bingeing than than staying home? Think about what needs to happen to keep you safe.

8.)Smile at ten people. Make a plan that you are going to smile or say hello to ten people. Having a goal for the party will make it less scary and it will also make you more approachable so that you can meet more people.

9.)Get help for social anxiety if it is a real problem for you. Look at some different websites that specifically deal with social anxiety in order to prepare. You can also find a support group or a therapist who deals specifically with social anxiety disorder. I have found that often social anxiety can be underneath many eating disorders.

10.)Bookend the party. Let one of your support people know that you are nervous about going and you fear you might binge. Check in with them before and after the party.

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  • The Holidays are a hard hard time for those of us with issues with food. Between all the food being pushed on us and everyone talking about trying not to gain weight. Or better yet starving to lose it its nice to be reminded to take steps to keep on track. Great post…very mindful

  • I like the idea of checking in with someone afterwards. What you said about addressing social anxiety is important, too. I used to struggle with panic attacks and the idea of a big party wouldn’t sound appealing to me. Still, it was important to get out when I could, especially if I promised myself (and meant it) that I only needed to stay X amount of time and was free to go.