Holiday survival tips (not to follow)

Holidays are not the easiest time for people with eating disorders (and really, people in general). Some not-so-helpful people have published tips on how to survive the season, and I am looking at some of the less than shining gems here.

From HealthDay: "For the Obese, Holiday Tables Serve Platefuls of Doubt"

The premise of this "advise" is initially sound: for people whose weight doesn't fall within the normal range (of either societal or familial norms), eating occasions are typically fodder for the peanut gallery. But instead of telling you to follow your hunger/fullness signals the best you can and snappy/polite comebacks for some of the more vocal peanuts, it has these "tips."

  • Indulge in the inner spirit of the holidays, not the eating. Focus on spending time with friends and family.
  • When faced with food temptation, use portion control. If it's a holiday meal and you eat a bit more than normal, it won't harm your weight loss effort as long as you get back on track the next day.
  • If you're doing the party circuit, spend time socializing, not eating. Put something on your plate and use it as a prop.
  • Make a resolution to find out what you really hunger for in life and what you're looking for that you can't find in food.

The sheer number of incorrect assumptions is atrocious. Using food as a prop? How about shoving that piece of pie into the face of the person who tells you not to eat it? (Just kidding. Kind of.)

The worst assumption, however, is that the problem is with YOU and not your judgemental family. You can do anything you'd like, and if people are going to judge, they're going to judge. That is also their problems and not yours.

The other advice was for eating disorders specifically: "Holiday Help for those with Eating Disorders."

Some of the advice is sound (find things to talk about besides food), but some of it is about one step from pandering to the eating disorder. Sorry, if someone shows up to a holiday gathering and isn't eating, damn skippy you should say something! Maybe not right then, but it essentially tells the eating disordered person that their behavior is semi-acceptable. Home should be safe- safe from the eating disorder.

Of course, how close you are to the person with the ED is going to make a difference as to how you approach it. But the eating disorder must be addressed if the person is going to have a chance at a happy, healthy life. Hopefully the sufferer and his/her caregivers will be doing so, but don't feel bad if you have to be the one to put your proverbial foot down and stop overlooking a serious mental illness.

Oh, and my respect for Craig Johnson totally tanked with this comment: "In many cases, eating disorders are linked to issues of control or abuse, Johnson says." He's doing research on the genetics of eating disorders. I had hoped he would know better. Sigh.

Being able to enjoy the food and the company will come with recovery, but sometimes you'll have to white knuckle through more than a few uncomfortable situations.

Happy holidays, everyone!

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Lisa said...

WebMD is the top offender in my book. From a "naughty holiday foods" slideshow to an instruction manual on how to be an exercise bulimic (in time for the holidays!), that site has completely lost any credibility.

Tracey said...

Dear Carrie-

Just dropping in to Wish you a Very Blessed and Joyous Holiday!**

XO- *t

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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