Eating Disorders and the Holidays

We are so lucky to have the opporutinity to welcome Becky Henry as our guest blogger. She is the Author of Just Tell Her to Stop, an award winning book for families who care for an member with an eating disorder.  She is the founder of Hope Network a wonderful support sommunity.  I recommend her book to clients with eating disorders and also to their family members as it is the only book of its kind on the market.

Families living with an eating disorder can find the holidays extra challenging with all the focus on food. There are so many different stresses and foods that can be frightening for people facing eating disorders.

Two years ago I got to have a conversation with Peter McClellan on his radio show 401k Latte about eating disorders at the holidays. We talked about the huge spreads of food that can be overwhelming and stress inducing. Take a listen:

Peter asked some great questions to open up the conversation about how both parents and health care providers can support someone with an eating disorder. A few things we talked about were:

  • As family member; put on your oxygen mask first-make a Top Ten list and do 1 self-care/fun thing each day.
  • Family members can help by: Learning to let go with love (easier said than done).
  • Don’t make comments about other people’s bodies.
  • Low fat – Low Calorie diets backfire – they don’t work – 95% failure rate.
  • Language from health care providers is important – telling patients to lose weight not only doesn’t help – it hurts.
  • Health care providers can ask open ended questions about what a patient’s health care goals are can enroll the patient in the process of making healthy choices.
  • The book: Just Tell Her to Stop can be ordered at:
  • Weight-ism is alive and well –notice our judgments about sizes.
  • People can be healthy at many different sizes.
  • Focus on overall health to achieve your health goals.
  • Insurance and eating disorders coverage – Academy for Eating Disorders works for mental health parity.
  • College professors can add the book to their curriculum as required reading.
  • Companies are invited to purchase the books to donate to eating disorders treatment centers.

What have you heard from your health care provider that has backfired for you? What comments have you found helpful while recovering from an eating disorder?

I hope you will focus on what you are grateful for this holiday season and have peace.

Hope Network:!/


  • Thanks, Janet, for having Becky as your guest author — great topic!

    Twenty+ years ago, I dropped several pounds (too many pounds) as a result of an eating disorder. It’s hard to really put into words what it feels like to get caught up in the mindset of starvation.

    As unhealthy and life-threatening as it is, it’s also very empowering. I hope that makes some semblance of sense to you. I can only speak for myself in saying it becomes a “control” issue. There are so many facets of our lives that are not within our control, but eating is obviously something you can choose to do … or not.

    My eating disorder story, like others I’m sure, is long and detailed. Let me just offer up the synopsis:

    Unimaginable stress and fear in a long term abusive relationship were at the roots of my eating disorder. Counseling helped. A divorce helped even MORE.

    Thanks for sharing your expertise and bringing this issue to the blogosphere — especially this vulnerable time of the year!

    • Hi Melanie thanks for stopping by and telling a bit of your personal story. You are exactly right, for many of us who have traveled the eathing disorder road, it is all about control … even though we
      might not recognize it at the time. I am very appreciative to Becky for sharing her wisdom during the holiday season when it is so easy to get tripped up by all the food and talk of food.
      Happy Holidays to you … and many blessings.

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