Please note that this is an Archived article and may contain content that is out of date. The use of she/her/hers pronouns in some articles is not intended to be exclusionary. Eating disorders can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights.

Coping With A Loved Ones’ Eating Disorder During the Holidays

For most people, the holiday season is a wonderful time of year. It is often a time of family reunion, socializing, and celebration – a time when families, friends, and coworkers come together to share good will and good food. The season is meant to be bright, happy, and full of the best of relationships. Yet, for those who suffer with eating disorders, this is often the worst time of the year. For those who are trapped in the private hell of anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, the Holidays often magnify their personal struggles, causing them great internal pain and turmoil.

When going into a family or social event, especially if people are aware of the eating disorder problem, it is helpful that everyone talks honestly about what will help and what will not help during the event. Armed with this knowledge, family and friends can set up some structure around holiday activities that is agreeable to all parties involved. Give reassurance about your desire to “be supportive” of them without trying to control every problem. You can respond to their feedback about what may be helpful to them by making positive adjustments. It helps to express love, gratitude, respect, and acceptance for your loved one.

It is not your job to fix or solve the eating disorder. It is your job to encourage nourishment of the body and provide nourishment to the soul. Working too hard to stop the eating disorder behaviors during the holidays can fuel dishonesty and defensiveness which actually feeds the problem. You are not responsible to say or do everything right. Nothing you do or not do will take away your friend or family member’s own responsibility to overcome and recover from their eating disorder. She/he is the only one who can do that job, but you can care, empathize, encourage, and share the process with them. The good intent you express is often more helpful than what is actually said or done. If your friend or family member knows that your heart is on their side, then you become a source of comfort, support, and safety to them.


News & Announcements

Center for Change National Conference for Professionals on Eating Disorders
Putting the Pieces Together…An Integrated Approach
January 28th-29th, 2011 (Optional Ski Day Jan 30th)
Center for Change, Orem, UT
Early registration discount ends November 30th
Click here to register today!

Approved for 13 Continuing Education Credits through the American Dietetic Association Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) for Registered Dietitians (RD) and Dietetic Technicians, Registered (DTR).

This program has been approved by the National Board for Certified Counselors (Approval #SP-1850) for 13.25 continuing education contact hours.

This program is approved by the National Association of Social Workers (Approval #886558729) for 13 continuing education contact hours.

Pending 12.5 Continuing Education Credits through APA.


Where’s Jenni

Friday, December 10, 2010
Orem, UT
Center for Change Family Week
Jenni will be speaking with patients and their family members at Center for Change. This event is not open to the general public.

Friday and Saturday, January 28 & 29, 2011
(Optional ski day on January 30th!)
Orem, UT
Center for Change
Center for Change National Conference for Professionals on Eating Disorders:  Putting the Pieces Together…An Integrated Approach.