Holidays and Eating Disorders

Nothing can be more fun and joyful than gathering around the table for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years. But what if one of the people around your table is suffering from an eating disorder? When you know how hard a friend or family member is struggling with an eating disorder, it’s hard to get excited about cooking a feast that will be hard for everyone to digest. Instead, make simple plans for the holiday to ensure everyone is in the right mindset and able to enjoy a holiday meal.

Make New Traditions

If old traditions are painful for those with eating disorders, skip them. Invent new traditions that are easier to enjoy – especially ones that don’t center on eating large amounts of food. After all, Thanksgiving and Christmas are just days in the year that we choose to make important. If it’s easier to eat a normal meal with close family members, do it.

Stick with Routines

For many patients working to recover from an eating disorder, the holidays are one of the most challenging times. Use this holiday season to show how much you care for each other by sticking to the routines – even if it means skipping some favorite items or routines. Eat at the same time you always do. Eat in the same places you always do. Make it easy to navigate through a meal just like you would any other day of the week or year.

Avoid Pitfalls

While it’s nice to be surrounded by family members on holidays, if having Uncle Ed and Aunt Gwen over to comment on your sister’s weight and her eating habits makes things stressful for everyone, don’t invite them. Or compromise and invite them over to have coffee and a good visit in the evening instead of the full dinner. Take the importance of away from food and simply avoid those who would make these holidays more difficult than they should be.