'You are expected to eat': Christmas pain for people with eating disorders
PUBLISHED: 16:09 21 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:31 21 November 2019
Christmas is traditionally viewed as a time of year when family and friends gather to eat and drink.
But for people living with anorexia, bulimia or a binge-eating disorder the festive period is a difficult time which raises feelings of loneliness and anxiety.
In a bid to help, eating disorder charity Beat is holding a day-long course in Norwich on Saturday, November 23, called for Coping with Christmas, for parents and carers of loved ones with an eating disorder.
Mother-of-two Christina Taylor, 34, from Sprowston, who was diagnosed with anorexia aged 13, is in recovery but said Christmas was a challenging time of year.
She said: "This time of year is all about food. You are expected to eat and drink. You are in situations involving food and there is general disruption. An eating disorder is all about patterns and control."
Mrs Taylor, a life insurance underwriter for Aviva, said she had worked in offices for the past 12 years and had avoided many Christmas social functions with work colleagues because of issues with food.
"It makes you feel like the little person outside watching in."
Mrs Taylor said she was better around food and started her recovery seven years ago when her first child was born.
"Both sides, family and people with an eating disorder, put pressure on themselves to have a picture-perfect Christmas.
"Do what makes you comfortable. It is not about being perfect. It is about what you can do to manage. Putting yourself under pressure to do something you are uncomfortable doing to keep up appearances isn't worth it. If you want a bowl of baked beans for Christmas Day, have one. It is about communication," Mrs Taylor added.
Caroline Price, Beat's director of services, said: "Emotions come to a head at Christmas. The Coping with Christmas course is about getting parents and carers to think differently."
Mrs Price said it allowed people to understand what their loved one was going through and plan a strategy.
"Family provides invaluable support."
The Coping with Christmas course takes place at Chalk Hill House, 19 Rosary Road, from 10am to 4pm. Visit www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk to register.
For support call the Beat advice line on 08088010677 between 4pm-8pm, from December 24 and January 1, seven days a week.
The advice line is open to anyone and before December 24 and after January 1 it is open from 2pm-8.30pm on weekdays and 4pm-8pm during weekends.