It’s that time of year! No, I don’t mean the holiday season, not exactly. This time of year, with the many holidays coming up, is when those who are food dependent relapse more than any other.

At SHiFT, through the years, we’ve seen many who are food dependent convince themselves to have “just one” of their trigger foods only to end up in devastating relapses even before the new year begins. We also see it in even those who are normal eaters when they make New Year’s resolutions and begin weight loss programs.

Let me be crystal clear, eating even one bite of foods that cause an emotional and/or physiological reaction in your body leads directly to relapse. While it may not happen immediately, it won’t take long before the overwhelming cravings become too powerful to resist.

Though this may sound pessimistic, the good news is that you have a choice. Even though you may already know this, seeing this warning written down, will help to make it real and making it real means that you can prepare yourself to prevent a relapse.

This holiday season, more than any other that I can remember in my lifetime, is different and more challenging than those before. As a nation, we are dealing with many issues.  As individuals, we are experiencing challenging feelings and fears about what our holidays will look like this year.

The single most important way to deal with these feelings and to prevent a relapse is to stay as close to your recovery program as possible. Connect with others who are food dependent.  Keep going to support groups. Plan and re-plan to make sure you have the foods you need to continue following your food plan. And, most of all, don’t take chances with your recovery.

Stay away from people who encourage you to binge or eat foods not on your food plan. Don’t go into places where you have no business being. There’s no need to try and prove how “strong” you are or how much “willpower” you have by buying or cooking foods you don’t eat.

If you are an alcoholic, you have no business going into a bar. If you’re food dependent, you have no good reason to go into a bakery. While it is possible for each to go into these places and not relapse, the question to ask yourself is why would you put yourself in this position?

If your recovery truly is the most important thing in your life, the foundation of every good thing that’s come into your life, why would you risk it during what has been proven to be a dangerous time?

Check out your motives during this time of relapse. Doing this one simple thing may prevent you from losing the greatest gift of your life.