With the festive season approaching, people coming together for happy Christmas meals and lots of celebrations taking place, the time is unfortunately not so ‘merry’ for all. Over the last 30-40 years, the incidence of eating disorders has increased and become a widespread problem across the UK and worldwide. Statistics suggest that between 1.25 and 3.4 million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder (BED) and other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED).
So, how does the winter period affect those living with these conditions? Christmas can be one of the most difficult times of year for individuals dealing with these challenges. There is a huge emphasis on food and drink around this time and this can result in additional pressures on those with disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia. With meals becoming a social occasion as people gather together, individuals can experience feelings of guilt and shame. For example, the focus to eat large amounts can trigger those dealing with a binge-eating disorder, or may cause anxiety with anyone suffering with anorexia. Not to mention, conversations regarding New Year’s resolutions may be centred on weight loss and this can occasionally be the hot topic discussed at the table. In turn, this period can be very challenging for individuals, which can cause isolation for people dealing with it privately.
This is why we believe there should be more support in place for the many that are secretly facing obstacles, in what should be a joyful time for all. There are many ways to help ease worries and concerns surrounding this period, which are outlined below:
With a very different and difficult year coming to an end, Christmas is going to be slightly unusual. Therefore, planning and preparing in advance is key and it is important to remind yourself it is completely okay to not meet expectations. Do not put more pressure on yourself and know that you are never alone.
If you or someone you know is struggling to cope with Christmas, S.E.E.D offers a range of services to help, including online support groups and low-cost person-centred counselling. Remember that we are always here to help and we truly believe that it can get better.