How Family & Friends Can Host a Thanksgiving Supportive of Eating Disorder Recovery

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The Thanksgiving holiday this week signifies the beginning of a difficult season for some who struggle with eating problems ranging from emotional eating to eating disorders.  Friends and family who are hosting Thanksgiving gatherings can create a friendly and welcoming environment to all by following these tips according to a recent article posting on the Huffington Post, written by Allison Epstein.

Stop asking people if they’ve lost or gained weight: When seeing people once per year, it can certainly be more obvious if weight has been lost or gained.  Rest assured that the individual is aware in either case, and nothing good is going to come from commenting on it.  There are plenty of other ways to make conversation.  Even talk of someone’s weight loss can have a negative impact on that individual or those within earshot.

Talk about things other than food: This might seem difficult as the Thanksgiving holiday is certain to revolve around food.  Try to focus on gratefulness–anything other than what someone is or is not eating.

Stop rationalizing your food choices: Keep statements like, “I’ll go to the gym for two hours tomorrow,” or “I’m not eating for the rest of the week,” to yourself.  These statements can be triggering to other people, and aren’t healthy for you either.

Put your bathroom scale away: This won’t take very long for you to do, and it could make a positive difference for your guests.

Don’t use ED specific language as a joke: In some ways, it’s good that we are all more familiar with terms like anorexia and binge eating since it’s a sign that ED awareness is increasing.  However, when it’s used in jokes or sarcastic comments, it becomes very hurtful and stigmatizing.  Avoid statements like, “I just binged on pumpkin pie,” or “I wish I could be anorexic.”

Offer something to do before and after the meal: Anxiety for people with eating problems can strike before and after a meal, so offering some kind of activity such as playing with the kids, going for a walk, or even doing the dishes could be helpful.

Don’t make observations about what people are eating: This relates back to #2, and should probably be obvious.  If you think someone is struggling with an eating disorder, the Thanksgiving holiday is probably not the best time to talk to them about it.  No one needs the extra stress of someone observing what is on their plate.

Following these 7 tips could make a big difference for someone at your Thanksgiving table.  We wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday!

 

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