Expert chat: Eating at Christmas time

Kim and Renata are from the Community Eating Disorder Service for Young People in East London. They both see young people every day who have difficult relationships with food and are experts in providing the right care and guidance.

p>[Lisa: I'm hoping that this year will be different as it's my first vegan Christmas but for the past three years I haven't been living at home so being home at Christmas is the longest I spend there all year and everyone is constantly watching what I eat which is obviously really nerving & provokes me to be quite anxious, I also am really restrictive which results in bingeing

Kim & Renata: Sounds like being at home for Christmas is not easy for you. How do you manage when you are not at home?

Lisa: Well I live with two friends so it's a lot easier for me to be restrictive and mostly I have bingeing under control, just when I get stressed it gets bad

Kim & Renata: Binge eating is often a response to other emotional difficulties that are happening in life. How long is the restricting and bingeing going on?

Lisa: Ever since I was really young, I've always been weird with food, engaging in bad habits etc.

Kim & Renata: Did you ever get any help with it?

Lisa: No it's been a secret for a long time but I told my mum a few years ago. Every time I'd eat she'd ask me if I really needed it and I started eating in secret and then skipping days of eating, making myself sick but I know she didn't mean any harm she just thought I was trying to diet and was helping

Kim & Renata: Restricting and bingeing often come together. The more you restrict the hungrier you feel and you become more likely to binge. We would suggest to seek professional help. We also recommend a book ''Overcoming binge eating'' which is a self-help guide.

Lisa: I have a meeting at Uni with a counsellor tomorrow so maybe I could mention it then? I think Christmas this year might be easier because I've been vegan since February so I can choose what I'm eating

Kim & Renata: Talking to a counsellor sounds like a really good idea.

Evelyn: So I have depression and around these winter months, Christmas, new year and everything obviously the weather gets colder and it gets darker earlier and it greatly impacts my depression and these dark days make me feel really low and I turn to food to make me happier and the jealously of seeing others happy makes me feel worse. So I binge a lot on food - it's like a source of escape but it's a really bad thing

Kim & Renata: We are sorry to hear that Jessica. Is the depression just in winter or all year?

Evelyn: It's all year but it gets so much worse during the winter - summer evenings I tend to go out on walks but I can't because it's too dark and cold. I hate my relationship with food but it's almost a source of escapism and comfort

Kim & Renata: It can be easy to turn to food but we wonder what are the other things you do to make you feel happier?

Evelyn: I honestly don't know. Like you say, food is very easy thing to just go to.

Kim & Renata: it would be good to talk to your counsellor to help you understand your relationship with food

Evelyn: I have never spoken about that before so thank you for giving me the space to talk about it

Kim & Renata: it was brave to talk about it. Thank you for sharing your story.

James: Remember everyone, we've got a load of info around food and eating right here on The Mix: under Eating Disorders

Michelle: I've just started my new job as a door staff on night clubs and I normally eat really well through the year but when it comes to winter I tend to sleep a lot so skip meals and now with my new job over Christmas I'm nervous that I will just live of red bull and not have the energy for my horses

Kim & Renata: It can be really difficult to eat healthy around shift work. Can you let us know what your hours are?

Michelle: I work 10-3 weekdays with two days off and then weekend 6pm-3am and then I get to my horses in the morning around 6am because I enjoy riding with no one around. My hours are longer over Christmas and the thought of sitting down to Christmas dinner makes me feel sick

Kim & Renata: Are you able to plan your breaks when you are working? Perhaps take some snacks with you to have instead of red bull? Can we just ask you why sitting down to Christmas dinner would make you feel sick?

Michelle: We don't really have break a 15-minute smoke break half way through but I could try, cause there's always so much food and

Kim & Renata: It does not sound very long especially if you are working from 6:00pm to 3:00am. It is positive that you noticed it might be a problem so you are trying to address it. We think some time spent planning sleeping and eating times would be helpful. Glad to hear you are still riding horses and enjoying that :)

Next Steps

  • Beat help people overcome eating disorders through helplines, online support and self-help groups. Call 0808 801 0677 or, if you're under 18, call their Youthline on 0808 801 0711.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

Updated on 05-Jan-2017