Articles & Information

December 12, 2016

Eating Disorder Ceasefire: How To Create a Safe Space Over the Holidays


Providing a safe space at the dining table for someone suffering from an eating disorder (ED) is not easy.  Holidays can create anxiety for many of us.  We are all susceptible to food and body shame in the subtlest of messaging.  But for those with an ED, comments about food, eating habits and bodies can set them back BIG TIME in their recovery.  At the holiday table especially, establishing a ceasefire with the ED is Priority 1!

The Inspiration

A recent Buzzfeed article: What Not to Say About Food at Thanksgiving inspired me to create a resource – an invitation.  The invitation letter is an example of what to send out when inviting folks to special occasions.  The letter asks invitees to refrain from ED triggering language and subject matter.

Setting the tone for the celebration ahead of time will increase awareness and hopefully minimize any harmful comments or actions.

First, Some Considerations

This is for caregivers and loved ones of ED sufferers and survivors.  Do the best you can to setup a safe space prior to the get-together.  You want to avoid those potential triggers where the eating disorder thoughts and behaviours are provoked. Consider some of these ideas:

  1. Host the celebration.  Be in charge of creating a neutral environment, where the eating disorder cannot thrive
  2. Ask your loved one with the ED what would make the celebration successful and maybe even enjoyable for them
  3. Avoid centering on any one individual or on the ED specifically
  4. Draft an invitation that is kind, yet firm, around the types of conversation that is off limits

The Invitation:

Holiday Invitation PDF

The following is the text in a JPEG format. I’ve also provided a link to the PDF version so you can copy-paste, then make changes as you see fit.  Please email me if you are having trouble accessing it and I will email the text right over to you.

Whatever you celebrate, I hope this invitation helps making a safe space over the holidays a little easier for you and your loved ones.

And here is another format: