Navigating the holidays with an eating disorder

Published: Nov. 24, 2022 at 2:21 PM EST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Gathering around the table for a meal over the holidays can be overwhelming for someone with an eating disorder.

During the holidays, family is in town, and the meal is bigger than average. That can create a stressful environment for someone with an eating disorder.

“Making sure that it’s quality time with that person. It doesn’t matter what’s on their plate or what their body looks like,” said Katie White, Director of Adolescent Services with A Center For Eating Disorders.

White said to avoid making comments about someone’s weight or plate.

“It’s okay if their plate looks like their normal dinner plate from every single day. Its one holiday, its one year, and next year may be different because hopefully, they are in a better spot with their eating disorder,” says White.

Lisa Wilson, the Primary Program Coordinator with A Center for Eating Disorders, recommended making ground rules with your loved ones before the meal if you feel comfortable.

My experience has been that in the beginning, depending on the crowd if you make a joke about it. Like only commenting on the turkey’s body or whatever. Something silly. But it lightens the mood,” said Wilson.

If not, consider bringing a friend also in recovery with you to the party, or ask a family member to be your safe place for the evening.

It’s helpful if there’s an ally in the family. Someone who knows their history and is able to support them. Maybe even have like a code word or wink that they need to step away. Whatever that might look like,” said Wilson.

And remember that not every get-together has to be around a plate of food.

“Maybe it’s starting a new family tradition that doesn’t involve food, like going to a movie after or playing a game together,” said White.

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