Addressing Eating Disorders Around the Holidays

woman curled up on bed hugging a pillow

With food often at the center of holiday celebrations, this season is a challenging time for individuals coping with an eating disorder.

How Can You Help?

  • Create an environment that doesn’t revolve only around food but rather one of togetherness.
  • Include activities such as volunteering, making holiday crafts or watching holiday movies.
  • Don’t talk about food portion sizes or why the person isn’t eating in front of others.
  • Support your loved one by listening and joining them in activities that ease their anxiety.

Loved ones’ struggle with an eating disorder may become more apparent during the holidays, says Tamer Wassef, MD, medical director of Behavioral Health Services at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Somerset.

According to Dr. Wassef, important signs to look for that indicate they may be suffering from an eating disorder can include physical, emotional and behavioral signs.

Physical Signs

  • Unhealthy weight loss
  • Intolerance to the cold
  • Cessation of menstrual periods
  • Fatigue
  • Physical changes such as hair thinning, dry skin or swelling of the arms and legs

Emotional and Behavioral Signs

  • Unusual food behaviors such as lying about how much food has been eaten or hiding food
  • Excessive exercise that reduces their social, school and work activities in order to fit in their exercise routine
  • Emotional changes and social withdrawal RWJUH Somerset offers comprehensive treatment for individuals ages 14 and older who suffer from all types of eating disorders, including hospital-based inpatient care, partial hospitalization care and intensive outpatient care.
  • The hospital’s newly renovated eating disorders inpatient care unit is one of only two in the state.

Call 1-800-300-0628 or visit RWJBH Behavioral Health Eating Disorders Treatment for information about our behavioral health services or a referral to a mental health specialist near you.