Holidays threatening for people with eating disorders

November 26, 2011 by  

Although the holidays are a time for cheer and good will, people with eating disorders may have a hard time coping, according to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Since the bulk of festivities revolve around food, persons with eating disorders can grow increasingly uncomfortable as the celebrations draw near. With the proper planning, however, these people can enjoy the holidays every bit as much as everyone else.

According to Leslie Sim, the clinical director for the Mayo Clinic’s Eating Disorders Program, people with eating disorders often begin worrying about the holiday season weeks—or even months—before it arrives. “The holiday season is really a nightmare [for them],” Sim said. “It’s something that they dread, talk about and anticipate for months.” Sim also stated that, around the holidays, food is the way in which most people celebrate, which puts untold amounts of stress on people with eating disorders. In addition, flyer printing or poster printing may help to increase people’s awareness about eating disorders.

The National Eating Disorders Association states that 1 million males and 10 million females suffer from eating disorders in the United States alone. According to Sim, there are a few tips that people with eating disorders should follow during the holidays:

• Eat normally: People with eating disorders are more likely to binge eat if they starve themselves during the day; they should eat breakfast, lunch and a small snack in addition to the evening meal.
• Family members of persons with eating disorders should not comment on their loved one’s weight; even a positive remark could be misconstrued.
• Family members should never take offense if a patron chooses not to eat.

The holidays are stressful for most, but since holidays revolve around food, they are especially stressful for those with eating disorders. By empathizing with the sufferers of eating disorders, the holidays can be brighter for everyone.