The “most wonderful time of the year” is often anything but for those battling an eating disorder or working toward recovery. It should come as no surprise that the holiday season is frequently a time for relapse or exacerbation of eating disorder symptoms. After all, the much-beloved traditions and events this time of year are teeming with potential triggers. Increased exposure to fear foods, activities centered around eating, and extended time with family can magnify an individual’s struggles.
For a peek behind the curtain of these illnesses, consider a holiday meal at a relative’s home. Being immersed in a group setting can elicit tremendous pressure for those in recovery, particularly around the holidays when the expectation is to engage in the “normal” food and social activities of the season. Those in any stage of recovery may avoid holiday gatherings altogether out of the fear that every eye will be on them, silently (or not so silently) assessing their appearance, weight, and the contents of their plate.