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The EDYS has seen a big increase in referrals during the COVID pandemic and over the festive season, families up and down the country will be gathering for Christmas dinner. For those children and young people with eating disorders, this can have a negative effect on their mental health.
Every child and young person with an eating disorder will experience their condition in a way unique to them, but it is common for them to have feelings of anxiety, guilt and shame around their condition.
“We have seen a large increase in referrals for children and young people with eating disorders this year compared to last, and a significant increase in the most severe cases, which are most likely due to late presentations because of the COVID pandemic and necessary restrictions around GP visiting and remote schooling.
“Changes to patterns and routines around eating can be difficult for children and young people with eating disorders, especially around Christmas and New Year. Planning mealtimes ahead and involving children and young people can really help to reduce their anxiety and help them to feel more secure and supported. Make the focus of the day about ‘togetherness’ and sharing a special time, rather than food and drink, but do encourage everyone to be part of the meal preparations, such as setting and decorating the Christmas table. Table games and Christmas crackers are also good because they provide a distraction and help put the emphasis firmly on ‘togetherness.”
Recognising the triggers of children and young people with an eating disorder and working together as a family to reduce triggering experiences can really help them to feel supported.
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