Published on: 1 December 2021

People with eating disorders can find the festive period extremely stressful. There is often a big focus on food, normal routines are disrupted and often families have visits from friends and wider family members who may not be aware of the eating disorder.

Our CAMHS-ED service supports young people and their families to overcome eating disorders and help them to find healthy ways to manage their emotions. This year, the service is running a workshop on Thursday 16 December that will help parents and carers of young people being supported by the CAMHS ED service to manage better during the festive period.

The challenge during the festive period

When an eating disorder develops within the family home, this can cause parents and carers to develop high levels of anxiety and can cause young people to have both psychological and physical health complications. Parents and carers unfortunately can feel isolated and can get into situations whereby they inadvertently do things to try to ease the young person’s distress, but can actually reinforce eating disorder psychopathology. These are sometimes referred to as 'accommodating and enabling behaviours'. You can find more information on these on the Beat charity's website.

Eating disorders often cause 'high expressed emotion' and during the festive period, and it is important that parents and carers can manage this, without it escalating into arguments. It may therefore mean that some accommodating and enabling behaviours by parents and carers is necessary.  

A useful article on Christmas to support young people who have eating disorders and their parents/carers can be found on the Schoen Clinic website.

Workshop details

The Coping with Christmas workshop is running on Microsoft Teams on Thursday 16 December from 4pm till 7pm (with a 15-minute break in the middle). It will help parents and carers to:

  • Reflect on what they are worried about at Christmas
  • Identify the young person’s hopes of Christmas
  • Gain ideas on how to educate visitors and support them in what they may say or do
  • Collaboratively plan meals with the young person so that they can cope with the day
  • Talk with the young person so that Christmas can focus on other important things, not just food
  • Develop a plan with the young person to help them manage their anxiety
  • Be aware that they may need to allow some accommodating and enabling behaviour during these couple of days to ensure that everyone enjoys Christmas
  • Focus on the New Year and how this can be challenging for a person with an eating disorder as well. 

Booking your workshop place

The workshops are open to any parent or carer that has a young person within our CAMHS-ED service. Places are limited.

If you would like to enrol for this one-off workshop, please email the CAMHS ED admin team: and