Eating Disorders During the Holiday Season

Most people look forward to the holiday season. But for some, it’s a living nightmare.


To those who know someone struggling:

To those who suffer from an eating disorder, the year-long stress over what, and how much, they eat is only heightened during the holiday season, where big dinners are the norm. Whether you deal with anorexia, bulimia or a binge eating disorder, these big dinners can be like your own personal hell, being surrounded by so many people filling up their plates miles high without a second thought.



Eating disorders aren’t always visible, especially when they are in the early stages. Don’t assume someone isn’t struggling just because they don’t look like they are. You never know how an off-hand joke or comment can affect someone. Watch what you say around the table this year.


If you know anyone who has dealt or is dealing, with an eating disorder, please reach out. Individuals with eating disorders tend to isolate themselves. Ask them what they need or how you can help them. Make sure they know they aren’t alone.


To those struggling:

Don’t stay silent about your struggles. Find someone you can go to when you’re feeling triggered. Tell your family how you’re feeling so you’re not suffering alone the whole holiday season. Everyone deserves to enjoy the holidays.


Find ways to get involved during the holidays that don’t involve food. Play a game, start a conversation with someone, sing a Christmas carol. Try and be present instead of drowning in the spiral of unhealthy, negative thoughts.

Don’t punish yourself if you experience a setback during the holiday season. Recovery isn’t linear. Every minute is a chance to start over. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed with shame or guilt is you mess up.


If you are in recovery or working on getting into recovery, don’t go into the holiday season unprepared. Make a plan so triggering situations do not get the best of you. Whether it’s a quick walk, or watching a funny video, or listening to music for a few minutes, just find methods of quieting your self-destructive thoughts. Also, arrange an exit strategy with your friends or family in case a situation gets too stressful and you need to escape. I know when I become stressed out at family dinners and need to get away it can appear rude to my mother, so talk to your family first so they know you are just taking care of yourself, rather than being anti-social.


Finally, if you don’t feel like you can turn to anyone for support, know there are available hotlines and chat rooms with people who know how to help those who feel how you feel.


Click the link above for access to the National Eating Disorders Association page with their hotline number and chat room. I can personally say I have used the chat room and found it very helpful.


Make it a happy holiday season.