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Food Is Not The Enemy: Getting Through The Holidays With An Eating Disorder

Many of us look forward to holiday feats, but a focus on food can be a source of anxiety for others.

The vacations are just around the corner, and gatherings, feasts, and turkey dinners are on the way.

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Experts say many will not pay attention to what they eat in feasts and holiday gatherings. As Christmas Day is nearing, many don’t experience the joy and happiness that people experience in the holiday season because they are focused on eating.

According to the Eating Disorder Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (EDFNL), 7.8 percent of the global population has an eating disorder, more than 40,600 people province-wide.

Paul Thomey, Executive Director of the Foundation, agreed that the holiday season might be triggered.

Thomey said, “The holiday season with their focus on food and body image and large gatherings make it much more difficult for somebody with an eating disorder.”

The result may be anxiety and depression, but also isolation when invitations to dinner and partying are rejected to avoid facing this fear.

An eating disorder is a generic term that includes anorexia nervosa,  bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and avoiding and restricting eating disorders.

EDFNL has published two newsletters to help people through the holidays, one for living experience and another for their friends and family.

Thomey does not recommend that food or weight be the main object of conversation.

Thomey says it is crucial for those suffering from eating disorders to be mentally prepared to trigger conversation to know what to do when they feel overwhelmed.

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Thomey continues, “If you are not comfortable with it, find a way to get yourself out of the situation, or at least be prepared with an answer that will move it in a direction that you are more comfortable.

“Try to look past the eating disorder, and try to enjoy your life and food, because the food is not the enemy.”