As many people are looking forward to a three-day weekend, some food addicts are dreading attending food-centered picnics and events. Newly-recovered food addicts and even those who have been in recovery for years, can sometimes be reluctant to attend events where there is a lot of food. This is normal and understandable.

Oftentimes food addicts can get so caught up in trying to please everyone else that they forget to stop and think about what they need. It’s okay to opt out of a holiday picnic or event where they’ll be a lot of food. It’s perfectly acceptable to choose a less-food centered way to celebrate the upcoming holiday such as going to the beach, spending time in nature or going for a hike. And, it’s even okay to decide not to recognize the holiday at all.

Opting out of gatherings that have the potential to trigger a relapse is not only a smart thing to do, it’s necessary for long-term recovery. At times, certain holidays or people can cause deep emotional reactions or extreme stress due to family dynamics or old behavior patterns that trigger binge behaviors. As recovering food addicts, it’s important to avoid people, places and things that are associated with overeating, addictive habits.

The important thing is for the decision to be based on healthy, recovery actions rather than obligation. In other words, it’s important for each food addict to figure out his or her needs and honor them. For some, attending holiday events is okay as long as they pack their own abstinent meal. For others, spending the time in a different way doing something they like will work better. Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy the day!