I’m frightened I’ll say or do the wrong thing this Christmas. Help!
We all know hosting and gift-buying at Christmas can be tricky.
It’s hard enough when you know that person inside out and when they’re fairly thick-skinned.
But what about if you’re due to host someone with an eating disorder?
What if they’re your close pal and you want to buy them something special – without stepping into difficult terrain?
Here are some top seasonal suggestions to make that period a little easier…
1. Understand it’s tricky.
Realise that although you may not fully understand the disease, your empathy and compassion for that person’s battle are one of the best gifts you can give.
2. Gifts of food are not necessarily off limits.
We understand how challenging it is to know whether you should gift someone some food or invite them to a meal you might with other friends, but to not do so, could just as easily make the person feel alienated. If in doubt, for goodness sake ask.
3. ‘Host’, don’t ‘hide’.
Many a time we’ve heard from people who said they feared offending a person with an eating disorder so much at Christmas time that they’d hide boxes of chocolates as that person appeared, or not bring out the mince pies, and not suggest a mug of hot chocolate during an afternoon visit. Stop with that. Keep it normal. Your friend is hopefully ‘trying’ to battle their eating disorder. Having small snacky festive items might be enough to encourage them.
If you’re hosting them for a bigger meal, consider chatting in advance about what makes it easier for them. Many with an eating disorder will say that a buffet approach to serving themselves is slightly easier than having a plate piled high by the host.
4. Be a listening ear.
Whatever you do, remember that, just as we all find Christmas tricky because of relationships, gift issues, family conflicts, financial burdens, travel traumas, and excessive expectations, someone with an eating disorder has their own reasons for finding it an awkward period. Enable them to talk, shed a tear or vent their frustrations – just as you’d hope they would do for you.
- Dec 2019