Ok, we all love the magic of the Holiday season...and we all get stressed out with how busy it is, and how much is expected of us. Add in our fat-shaming culture, and a patriarchal society that only values women as decor and baby-makers, and this food-centric season can be especially rough for ladies.
But if you're a person suffering from and/or in recovery from an eating disorder, those issues get compounded in big ways. Food is EVERYWHERE, and it's not just food: think about how you would hesitate to take a slice of your aunt's pie after she made a big fuss about making it. Think about how you like to bring an extra tray of cookies to your workplace to share.
We use food to show our love, and there's nothing wrong with that, but we have to be sensitive to the fact that for some people, navigating these caloric social interactions is a nightmare!
Here are some articles to get you thinking about how you can make the holidays easier for those around you dealing with this all too common mental illness...and remember, that's all it is. An illness. Like chicken pox. Like cancer. Your friend or family member didn't choose to have it, and willpower or other people thinking they're thin or pretty has nothing to do with it.
This article is specifically about Thanksgiving, but it's totally relevant for the end-of-year Holiday Avalanche: a simple list of do's and don't's for the loved ones of eating disorder sufferers. I wish I had this resource a long time ago!
This article also talks about Thanksgiving, but again, it's good for any meal you're sharing with other people, and what I love about it is that it's not specifically for people who know they'll be eating with someone living with an Eating Disorder. Many of us are around people struggling with this issue, and don't even know it. Many people may not be diagnosable with an eating disorder, but still struggle with an unhealthy relationship with food. Our whole society basically has an unhealthy relationship with food! Aside from sparing your loved ones, you'll be a mentally healthier person, too, if you ban these ways of speaking, and thinking, from your table.
This article particularly deals with men who suffer from eating disorders.
Up to now, these articles have been mostly directed at people who aren't personally struggling with eating disorders, but statistics being what they are, odds are, more than one person reading this is struggling with this disease. Here is an article from the National Eating Disorder Association offering twelve ideas to help you navigate this difficult time. Know that you are worth it, and you are strong enough to recover. If you haven't already, please reach out to someone you love and trust, and if you have, keep reaching out. Stay connected. You can do this.