Five Questions for a Nutritional Therapist
Q3: Christmas can be especially hard. Can you suggest some ways to cope with food choices over the festive period?
Christmas meals can be overwhelming. If a plate of food with "unsafe" options is presented to you, it could feel quite upsetting. Instead of rejecting all the unsafe options, why not try to have one unsafe option.
For example, if stuffing and gravy are off-limits, instead of eating neither of them, try to have a small serving of either one. Concentrate on seeing the foods as food groups carbohydrates (potatoes, starchy vegetables etc), protein (turkey other meats or nut roast) and fat (gravy, stuffing) and trying to incorporate all those groups into your meal.
So for example, if you can't face potatoes, have parsnips instead or carrots instead of sprouts. Whatever you choose, try to swap in an alternative that you feel more comfortable with.
Q4: Any tips on how to manage feelings of anxiousness about calories/meals over the Christmas period?
Remember that one meal will not affect your size and weight and that people will be interested in you, not your size.
Perhaps you could try to "give the eating disorder a break" over the Christmas period, to accept the mealtimes and take some time off from the constant rules and chatter if possible. A temporary ceasefire so to speak.
It may be useful to ask the people with whom you are spending mealtimes to not comment on what you are or aren't eating.
You may want to not sit at the table for a long time after the meal has finished and instead chat to people more away from the dinner table.
The meal probably won't be as bad as you think!
Remember that are other parts of the day that can be enjoyed - eating only takes up one part of it.
Q5: As a Nutritional Therapist with experience of recovery from eating disorders, what has been the most helpful or surprising thing you’ve learnt during your training?
It's been fascinating to learn that we need to eat a diverse and large amount of healthful foods to be nourished properly and how choosing a wide range of foods can support our mental and physical health.
It's been surprising to know that a lot of demonized foods like butter and oils can be very good for you. There are in fact no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods!
It was surprising to find out just how much food can alter our mood and how important balance is for the body and mind. My own eating habits changed from studying nutrition in that I really do not omit anything from my diet now and enjoy a wide variety of foods.
Further Support and Information
Belinda is a member of the Helpline team. We're available Wednesday to Friday each week up to and including 23rd December and can help you to find additional ways to manage over the Christmas period. Contact the Helpline
You might also like:
Our free guide 'Coping with an Eating Disorder at Christmas'