For most people, the holiday season is a wonderful time of year. It is often a time of family reunion, socializing, and celebration – a time when families, friends, and coworkers come together to share good will and good food. The season is meant to be bright, happy, and full of the best of relationships. Yet, for those who suffer with eating disorders, this is often the worst time of the year. For those who are trapped in the private hell of anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, the Holidays often magnify their personal struggles, causing them great internal pain and turmoil.
At Center for Change, we have asked many patients over the years to share from their private experiences what the Holidays have been like during the years they suffered with an eating disorder. The women quoted in this article are of different ages, but all suffered with the illness for many years. As you read the following passages you will feel something of the agony of suffering with an eating disorder at this festive time of year.
“Unlike any other normal teenager, I always hated it when the holiday season would roll around. It meant that I would have to face my two worst enemies – food and people, and a lot of them. I always felt completely out of place and such a wicked child in such a happy environment. I was the only person who didn’t love food, people, and celebrations. Rather, holidays for me were a celebration of fear and isolation. I would lock myself in my room. Maybe no one else gained weight over the holidays, but just the smell of food added weight to my body. My anorexia destroyed any happiness or relationships I could possibly have had.” -Nineteen-year-old woman
“The holiday season is always the most difficult time of year in dealing with my eating disorder. Holidays, in my family, tend to center around food. The combination of dealing with the anxiety of being around family and the focus on food tends to be a huge trigger for me to easily fall into my eating disorder behaviors. I need to rely on outside support to best cope with the stresses of the holidays.” -Twenty-one-year-old woman
“Over the past few years, during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season I have felt horrible. I felt trapped and like the food was out to get me. I lied on endless occasions to avoid all of the parties and big dinners that go along with the holidays. I felt horrible about my body and did not want anyone to see me eat for fear they would make judgments about me.” -Eighteen-year-old woman
These quotes from women suffering from anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating reveal the emotional intensity they feel during the holiday season. Their fear of gaining weight and becoming, in their minds, fat, gross, and disgusting, is the monster they must deal with every time they partake of any of the foods that are so wonderful and common to the holidays.
Starving for the Holidays – A Tale of Anorexia
Those struggling with anorexia are terrified of the holidays because they have no idea what a normal amount of food is for themselves. Most of them feel that anything they eat will mean instantaneous weight gain. In fact, some of them have said that just the sight or smell of food is terrifying to them because their fear of being fat or becoming fat is so ever-present in their minds. For some, just thinking about food is enough to create intense turmoil, pain, and guilt. Anorexia 먹튀 creates tremendous guilt about any kind of indulgence involving food. The eating of food becomes evidence, in their mind, that they are weak, out of control, and undisciplined. Anorexic men and women are often terrified of being seen eating food or of having people look at them while they eat. One client felt that every eye was on her at holiday gatherings. Many suffering with anorexia have shared their feelings of being immobilized by their fears about food.
“My life with an eating disorder during the holidays is a living hell – constant hiding and fear, confused about life and hating every moment being surrounded by food. There was so much pressure, so many stares and glances, and days with endless comments. My whole life was a mess. There was so much pain and guilt inside of me and I didn’t know where to turn, except to my eating disorder. I hated the pressure of eating the food, the constant worrying of offending others.” -Twenty-two-year-old woman