TW: This blog mentions eating disorders at Christmas and may be upsetting in nature. If you need to talk to someone after reading this article, call the Samaritans FREE on 116 123, 24/7.
“Christmas was a tough time for me when I was struggling with my anorexia.
I always struggled with the fact that there was lots of people around the table and so much food around me. I found myself trying to only eat my “safe foods” – but also not a lot of it. And whenever I felt I had enough, I would push food around my plate without people looking. I always asked questions – so that I was talking and not eating.
When it came to a Christmas when I was in recovery, I had the support of my family to know I didn’t have to eat everything but could take small steps and maybe eat something new which wasn’t on my “safe foods list”.
I would always try and do this item of food first, chew quickly and get it out the way. Then get back to the food I liked and trusted.
It was always good to know that I had done it and tried something new. But it was a struggle to not think negatively about what might happen now I had eaten it. But the next day waking up feeling fine was always a great feeling.
I would recommend informing your parents, loved ones or friends who are going to be at the Christmas dinner or making the meal about the way you’re feeling. You will feel more relaxed knowing there wont be any expectations on having to eat everything, or as much as everyone else.
Take things at your pace, eat as much or as little as you are comfortable with. Christmas is about family and fun. So, try not to stress too much about food during this period.
Eating a little is better than not eating at all.”
Help and Support
To help people with eating disorders – and family and friends who are supporting someone, we’ve compiled some suggestions to help you and your loved ones deal with Christmas. You can find this here.
There’s a section on the festive build-up. Exposure to Christmas and over-indulging seems to be everywhere online, but especially in supermarkets. We then focus on Christmas Day and the challenges that come with the pressure of it being a special day, and how the behaviour of others might trigger you.
And finally, we believe that talking openly and honestly with loved ones can help preempt some of the stress you face. It will make it easier to reach out for extra support if you are struggling and help you focus on other things that distract your thoughts.
Huge thanks to our blogger and Ambassador
Thanks to our guest blogger and ambassador Craig, who shared his lived experience at the start of this blog. Craig is also a Dorset Mind Ambassador. One of the requirements of this role is to share lived experience and promote better mental health to inspire others.
Thanks also to Romy, our Dorset Mind’s Restored Eating Disorder Senior Support Worker and Ambassador too. Restored supports people from age 16+ by providing mentoring and an online support group. Follow this link to find out more or email Romy at firstname.lastname@example.org for an initial talk and assessment.
We also have an Eating Disorder section in our Helpful Mental Health Resources by Subject directory, which you can find here.
Beat is a national eating disorder charity which aims to improve treatments and services. It aims to change how eating disorders are thought and talked about, and help people believe eating disorders can be overcome (something we also believe in). Find out more about them here.