The idea of fearing, 'gaining weight' over the holidays is one that has been repeatedly beaten into our heads from a young age. This, in turn, perpetuates body hate and poor body image. With a constant worry about gaining weight, it is hard to focus on what really matters during the holidays.
Parents and caregivers need to be aware of the amount of stress someone with an eating disorder feels over the holidays. Oftentimes the treatment team (if there is one), doesn't even address with us (the caregivers), how to handle the tense situations and emotions that come up.
Many providers still tell parents, "It is important to remember not to talk about food." Well, we need to talk about food, because FOOD = MEDICINE. Remember Hippocrates — 'Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food'.
What we don't want to talk about is fear of gaining weight and discussing calories. Discussing these topics will only make it more difficult for a sufferer to deal with the stress they are already feeling around food. These topics serve no purpose (I won't go into a whole Health At Every Size discussion right now) and only serve to increase the anxiety in the person with the eating disorder.
It is also important to set a good example for your child. This means eating regular meals and snacks, typically eating six times a day. As mentioned, it is vital not to discuss your weight, or your worries about gaining weight, because this will then be taken badly by a sufferer. It may be reiterated into their minds that gaining weight is bad; eating too much is bad, and so on.
5 Tips for surviving the holidays when you are a parent/caregiver of someone with an eating disorder:
· Remain vigilant. Be aware of symptom use in your child, and be aware of how your own behavior can affect your child.
· Try to keep the focus of off food. Instead, plan social activities and time to be together.
· When someone else in your family begins talking about their weight in front of your child, pull them aside to ask them to stop.
· Remember to spread body positive attitudes by not body shaming yourself or
· Practice SELF-CARE!!!! It's not selfish, it's your oxygen mask that keeps you able to support your loved one. If you need more support, check out our caregiver programs on www.hopenetwork.info. Sometimes that means letting things be "Good Enough"
My best wishes for a peaceful and relaxing holiday season~ Becky Henry, Founder, Hope Network, LLC. (Practicing letting things be "Good Enough" by posting this photo that isn't perfect...me looking at camera and not at you. :) Walking the talk here.