January & Diet Culture

Christmas may be a difficult time for people with eating disorders because of the long lead up period and the emphasis on food. In January, the messages shift. The focus on diets, weight loss, going to the gym, appearance, increased physical exercise and healthy eating can portray a straightforward picture of perfection, happiness or easy changes.

For those with an eating disorder, such messages can feel confusing, loud and intrusive. A person may feel caught between trying to recover, following the advice of a medical team, trying to develop new coping mechanisms and reducing behaviours that are punishing or restrictive. On the other hand, the person can feel conflicted around diet talk because this is something the eating disorder will try to take advantage of.

Boundaries can be useful. If you’re in a social situation or conversation that focuses on diet, try to step back, or if you are comfortable doing so, change the subject. This can be very challenging if you’re not close with those in the conversation.

Try to think about what is motivating you and your recovery. Recovery takes time and is a process.

For families also, the aftermath of a stressful Christmas may intensify. Their family member may have become more unwell or isolated. If you feel this applies to you, and are uncertain about how to cope, the free Bodywhys PiLaR programme will be delivered to a number of locations in 2019, starting with Kerry (Jan 17th), followed by Laois (Feb 28th) and Mullingar (March 28th).

If you’re a friend, be aware that, sometimes, getting better can feel worse. Try not to determine how someone is doing based on their appearance.

The reality of eating disorders is that they are recognised as serious and complex mental illnesses which must be taken seriously.

Eating disorders are not

  • “A lifestyle choice”
  • “A phase”
  • “A diet gone wrong”
  • “All about food”

If you’re struggling with this time of year contact alex@bodywhys.ie or 1890 200 444 for support.