Christmas should be the happiest time of the year for everyone, surrounded by the people you love and an abundance of food and drink! However, for someone with an eating disorder, Christmas can be a really difficult time of year and for some is an anxiety ridden nightmare.
For an individual coping with anorexia at Christmas, the extreme amount of food can almost feel like it’s suffocating them and will feel an extreme pressure. The Christmas meal is always something the host wants to be as pristine as possible and so this adds to the already high levels of pressure as you feel the need to eat everything on your plate even though you may not like some of the stuff.
On the days leading up to Christmas, some anorexia sufferers will even starve themselves and only eat a few pieces of food per day in order to make themselves hungrier for the big meal. Others just feel like they want to be isolated in their room and away from anyone as they dread it that much. This doesn’t just occur over the short period of time where dinner takes place, this builds up over days and even when opening presents on Christmas morning because they know the scariest part happens after – the Christmas dinner.
This isn’t the only common eating disorder that haunts people at Christmas, another one is Bulimia. When a person binge eats a large amount of food in a short period of time and then forces themselves to exert it through a number of unnecessary ways in order to stop them gaining any weight and keep that ‘figure’ they are so self-conscious to lose. Obviously, Christmas is very well known for large amounts of food intake, and for someone suffering from Bulimia this can be really difficult and can often affect their mood and ruin the whole day for them.
Planning and Organising for Someone Suffering from an Eating Disorder
There are a few methods to help aid someone suffering from eating disorders this Christmas:
It could be useful to agree on a plan for the meal and to make a plate up for the person suffering from a eating disorder, although it is also important to make sure the person is not singled out from the rest as this may result in them feeling pressured or judged.
It could also be effective to sit the person next to someone they know well and are comfortable with so that they will have someone to talk to and can turn to whenever feeling uneasy.
Oftentimes having an activity planned after the dinner such as a board game or a movie is deemed effective as a distraction.
For someone suffering from an eating disorder, it can be very difficult to each beside anyone they don’t share dinner with on a daily basis, so inviting the right people to Christmas dinner can be significant.
Talking to family members before the event to inform them is important, small compliments or small talk even as little as “you look well” can be misinterpreted from the person with the disorder so it is best to avoid any comments regarding appearance. Generally talking about anything other than food/body before or during the meal is best, it will help keep said persons mind off their insecurities.
If you are struggling from any sort of eating disorders this Christmas, remember to stay strong and keep a level head. Reach out to any support groups / helplines that can help as well as talk to any close family relatives that can help get you through and support you. Make sure you have a very merry Christmas.