PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – Any situation involving food can be difficult for those with eating disorders, and when the holidays roll around, it can be even harder.
Tim Bromley, Director of Behavioral Health at Saint Francis Medical Center, said people with eating disorders like having a sense of control. They want to feel safe and have options that will make them feel secure.
Events like Thanksgiving, where food is the focus, he said, give people with eating disorders a hard time.
To help, he recommends giving them an outline of how the dinner will go, what they can expect, how they can step off to the side, and offer support.
“This is just one meal. It’s one time with your family, [and] you can make adjustments afterward if you really feel you need to,” he said.
If the family knows a family member struggling with the disorder, Bromley suggests having an open discussion about how to help the person feel more comfortable. Ways to do that can involve making comments about their eating habits, or going on with the holiday without mention of the disorder.
For people struggling and who do not want to share with their family and friends, Bromley said to find somebody they trust to discuss the issue.
“Just try to make the best of the meal and try to enjoy yourself. Let go of the eating disorder for a brief moment and try to enjoy your family time,” he said.
Some might eat what they can through the dinner and feel bad afterward, so having a trustworthy friend or family member to talk to after is ideal, said Bromley.