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Holidays may cause distress for those with eating disorders

Miguel Octavio
Updated: December 23, 2019 04:32 AM
Created: December 22, 2019 11:35 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- The holidays can be a pleasant time of year with family, friends, and loved ones, but for some living with an eating disorder, it can be difficult when more food is around.

"I completely secluded myself from holidays, from my family, from the people that I loved because it was so hard,” said Meghan Sandve who struggled with an eating disorder over the course of a decade. “I was very ashamed, I was very embarrassed, I thought that I was alone."

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And over the holidays, things can worsen when there’s more food around.

“But then imagine that you have an eating disorder where you manage stress through food,” said Dr. Leslie Sim, a psychologist for Mayo Clinic. "A lot of people don't even know they have an eating disorder or their loved ones struggle with an eating disorder."

She says consulting with your doctor about available resources is one step you can take. And if you want to lend a hand, do it discreetly.
"It's a balance of not drawing attention to it in the moment with a bunch of family members around,” Sim said.

Dr. Sim also said diets and fitness resolutions can make things worse. She said focusing on small, measurable goals like having scheduled times to eat or looking at hours of sleep are better ways to improve your health.

And if you overindulge in food, it’s normal.

"Don't try to punish yourself,” Sim said. “And I think kindness to yourself is so critical during the holidays."

"You're not flawed, it's just something you're experiencing in that moment,” Sandve said.

Meghan now works as a fitness coach and wants others to know not every day will be perfect.
"We all are doing the best that we can do,” Sandve said. “If you had a bumpy day, or a couple days, we can just pick up and start again."


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