How to support those struggling with an eating disorder over the holidays

Adrien Paczosa, Chief Clinical Officer at Nourish, speaks to Daybreak about the best ways to support someone coping with an eating disorder over the holidays.

AUSTIN, Texas – The holidays are often referred to as the happiest time of the year, but for those struggling with an eating disorder, it’s often the worst time of the year.

Adrian PaczosaRD, LD, CEDRD-S, is the Chief Clinical Officer at nurture in Austin. Nourish is a nationwide, initially virtual, nutrition group focused on tackling America’s public health crisis through better access to nutritional care.

Paczosa says when it comes to the holidays, one of the biggest misconceptions about people with eating disorders is that society portrays certain eating disorders as body types.

“I want everyone to remember that eating disorders come in all body shapes and sizes. Someone might be struggling inside and not be able to express what’s going on,” Paczosa said.

Eating disorders can vary from person to person and can be related to body image, a specific food, or something unrelated to food. According to Paczosa, the easiest thing family members or those struggling with eating disorders can do is make a plan and talk to loved ones before the holidays arrive.

Experts recommend people with eating disorders to contact their nutritionist at various holiday celebrations and pre-congregation gatherings and come up with a plan to ensure they have support.

“Make sure you have a plan of what you actually want to do during this meal? I think one of the best things is an exit strategy. Sometimes we are just too overwhelmed in such situations. how will you go How are you going to take care of yourself and plan for great self-care afterwards?” said Paczosa.

Paczosa says that an eating disorder is very personal, so one person’s trigger may be different than another person’s.

“I think one of the things a lot of our nutritionists do at Nourish is we like to talk at the table, no diet, no body image. That’s one of the most important things we really educate about, that we make eating fun. exciting to have other conversations than diet or body,” said Paczosa.

If you find yourself at a table where someone may have an eating disorder but hasn’t spoken out about it, there are some red flags. This often involves becoming very still, turning inward or outward. Additionally, when it comes to the conversation around the table, keep it light and positive.

“I think one of the most obvious is that we don’t comment on anyone’s body. And even if it’s from a place of kindness, oh you look so healthy, that’s probably the worst comment ever. So to have comments or conversations, they are neutral, how is school going? How does the work? Something that’s very neutral, unrelated to the body, unrelated to the eating disorder, is actually very appropriate,” explained Paczosa.

This rule applies to everyone, regardless of age, as Paczosa’s patients who struggle with eating disorders and mental health can range in age from five to 65.

The National Association on Eating Disorders has a hotline that people can call along with various resources at Nourish. More information on where to find a provider can be found here here.

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Laura Coffey

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