Great Britain

Christmas can be 'extremely difficult' for people with eating disorders, warns charity

Christmas can be one of the most difficult times of year for people suffering from eating disorders, a charity has warned.

Caroline Price, director of services at Beat, said the emphasis on food and drink that surrounds this time of year can put additional pressures on those with conditions such as anorexia and bulimia.

“The pressure to eat large amounts can be triggering for people with binge-eating disorder and bulimia, as well as causing anxiety for people with anorexia,” she said.

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Price added that people with eating disorders “often try to hide their illness”.

“At Christmas, when eating is a social occasion – often with people who they do not see frequently – they may feel ashamed and want to isolate themselves from others,” she continued. 

To help those who may be struggling with an eating disorder this Christmas, Beat has released new guidelines with the NHS. 

The tips include serving food at buffets rather than sit-down meals, playing games or watching films after dinner, and ensuring that guests avoid asking questions about weight or appetite.

Dr Prathiba Chitsabesan, NHS associate clinical director for children and young people’s mental health, said: “Living with an eating disorder is a constant struggle but Christmas can be particularly challenging, with an increased focus on food, drink and big get-togethers, while the added pressure of new year resolutions and the bombardment of weight-loss messaging is just around the corner.

“Helping families manage these conditions at home can be crucial and hopefully these tips will really make a difference.”

You can read more about how to help someone with an eating disorder this Christmas here.