For the person:
Christmas is a time of celebration that often includes an abundance of food and treats, as well as family, friend, and office get-togethers which all involve eating. This means an increase in anxiety and pressure.
For families and partners:
This time can be more stressful in terms of being mindful of the struggle the person with an eating disorder might have, whilst also creating an enjoyable time for everyone else in the family. It can also be stressful if grandparents or extended family are included in such events and they don’t know.
Lent is a tricky time for anyone with an eating disorder.
If a person has a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, it’s no different to a period of ‘self-imposed Lent’. If a person has bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder, the abundance of sweets and Easter treats makes managing binges even more difficult. Managing an eating disorder over this period of time can therefore mean difficult things for different people.
For someone with anorexia nervosa:
Try to avoid using this time to restrict further. The physical impact of restriction is very significant. Fatigue, cold extremities, and a lack of essential nutrients can lead to very significant physical problems affecting dental, hair, skin, bones, blood, fertility, and many other systems. It can also lead to muscle loss and affect the smooth functioning of a person’s heart, since this is also a muscle.
Restriction can also lead to problems with concentration and memory, which is especially hard for students who may need to be on top form for public exams, or in good physical conditions for sporting challenges.
Instead of focusing on changing restrictive eating habits further, focus on getting better and giving up something that will benefit instead, like smoking, vaping or procrastinating.
For someone with bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder:
Restriction doesn’t work for anyone, but is especially difficult for someone with bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder, especially when there is easy access to a surplus of treats.
Stick to a regular eating plan, permit some variation in eating over this period, and include some treats so that they don’t become the ‘forbidden food’ that, when eaten, bring on feelings of guilt.
Ramadan is the holiest month during which Muslims across the world fast from dawn to dusk. Fasting or restrictive eating is a feature of both anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Ramadan is therefore extremely challenging for someone with an eating disorder because fasting can trigger, maintain, or worsen an eating disorder. Iftar is a celebratory meal that follows Ramadan and for people with bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder, this might trigger binge eating.
Some steps to manage an eating disorder over this period: