Christmas is a time of indulgence in every sense - food, alcohol, parties and spending far more money than we normally would. Whilst most of us can happily write this off as part of enjoying the festive celebrations, for anyone suffering with an eating disorder this time of year can be incredibly traumatic.
In most households, Christmas is the time for traditional get-togethers with friends and family and frequently, everyone will sit around a table with mounds of food in front of them. Whilst some of us relish the experience, anyone with an eating disorder can find this daunting, anxiety-provoking and can highlight feelings of loneliness. Furthermore, complex emotions around family dynamics may resurface and could result in a setback or relapse.
One of the biggest problems around Christmas time is that eating suddenly becomes a very social thing. In our busy everyday lives it’s easy to grab food on the go or eat at separate times from the rest of our family and it’s therefore easy to hide any issues. During the holiday season however, office Christmas parties, outings with friends and family and Christmas Day lunch involves us all eating together which makes it near on impossible for someone with an eating disorder to hide it. Even patients currently receiving treatment still find it incredibly painful to eat in front of other people.
Psychologist Dr Jessica Frankl-Weinberger commented:
“For a person who is struggling with an eating disorder, the general preoccupation with food in association with social scrutiny inflicted by a relative can be the ultimate feeling of pressure and loss of control. Both play a central role in the perpetuation of anorexia and bulimia.”
If you have an eating disorder and are worried about getting through the festive period, please have a read through our blog, Surviving Christmas with an Eating Disorder. Alternatively, please feel free to visit our Eating Disorder Treatment Page for more information about symptoms and treatments available.