Lowestoft resident’s fight against eating disorder

PUBLISHED: 10:00 01 January 2016

Chloe Cullen

Chloe Cullen

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015

While you have been into your Christmas turkey, it is worth sparing a thought for a group of people who dread the festive season and the traumas it can evoke.

For people with eating disorders Christmas can be a particularly difficult time of year, as many of the celebrations focus on large family meals and enjoying sweets.

Chloe Cullen, 19, of Lowestoft, admits to dreading Christmas and its subsequent focus on food.

She is joining calls from national charity Beat, based in Norwich, for families to be particularly aware and supportive at Christmas of members who have an eating disorder.

There are more than 725,000 people in the country who suffer from an eating disorder, according to Beat.

Chloe, who has suffered from an eating disorder since she was at primary school, said: “My family would have their Christmas meal and I would have something completely different, and then the questions would come so I felt under attack. You just want it to be over.”

Shona said: “Meals with people are very hard for someone with an eating disorder.

“You feel like all eyes are on you. It’s a horrible experience.”

Lorna Garner, chief operating officer of Beat, said: “Christmas is a very hard time for people with eating disorders.

“Some don’t like to be watched while eating, some might eat in a particular order, and some might cut things up differently first, so for those people large Christmas meals with lots of family can be very stressful.

“Many times it can be a comment from a grandparent, who don’t see their family very often, about how thin a member has become which can trigger a negative reaction.”

So how can families and friends help someone with an eating disorder through Christmas in future?

Ms Garner said: “Rather than focus on the food, families should focus on the fact that everyone is together at Christmas.

“And don’t draw attention to a person’s eating habits.

“If you have concerns about someone you should have a chat with them privately, not in front of everyone at the table.”

For more information about Beat and to get help call the charity’s helpline on 0345 634 1414 or its youthline 0345 634 7650.

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