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Eating Disorders are Never in Season

Eating disorders and holiday foodBecause so many holidays revolve around food, it’s important to remember that many things like parties, family gatherings and more are triggers for anxiety among people who are facing an eating disorder. Whether it’s because of painful memories, stress or any other reason, the holidays can bring about strong emotions. For someone with an eating disorder, the season can be far from festive.

One big part of the holidays are, of course, the big traditional meals we associate with Thanksgiving and Christmas. More often than not, there are pressures to eat more or eat less. Comments about appearance are often brought up when families get together. Things as simple as asking someone if they’d like a second helping or complimenting their outfit might seem harmless, but these simple gestures can trigger anxiety in those suffering from eating disorders.

If you know someone with an eating disorder, make sure that they’re not deviating from their food plan and be sure to communicate with him or her before a gathering. If they’re uncomfortable discussing their disorder, make sure everyone at the party knows that – it’s better to be safe, just in case. If he or she is in a treatment program, maybe suggest that they make an appointment to discuss the holidays and plan for those situations that might bring them anxiety. Finding a support partner, whether it’s a therapist or a family member, can be extremely helpful during the holidays. A clear, open line of communication can really help someone dealing with depression or anxiety around food or the holidays themselves.

Maintaining a healthy food plan and mentally preparing for upcoming events can not only relieve some of the stress associated with the holidays, but also throughout the year. Having the support of a therapist, to discuss your holiday and food anxieties, is an essential component of a treatment program. If there’s someone you know who needs help handling eating disorders during the holidays or any time of year, make sure to suggest that they seek help from a treatment program.

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