One More Bite

Insight and family-based treatment to combat eating disorders

Taking Notes

What to do when an eating disorder sits at the holiday table.

Holiday meals are a time for us to come together with loved ones in shared celebration. When an eating disorder takes a seat at the table, food can literally go flying, sending everyone into a tailspin. Celebration quickly becomes the last thing on the family agenda.

If your child has been diagnosed with an eating disorder, you may be more aware than ever of the differences you see in eating style between this Thanksgiving and last Thanksgiving. As upsetting as it may be to see these changes, try to be truly present at mealtime. Put your anxiety to the side for this special meal and decide to be an observer. Take mental notes. Note where there is progress and where improvements could benefit your child. Are food choices become more variable or more restrictive? Are portions appropriate for your child’s growth needs? Are there any rituals you notice with respect to how or when food is eaten? Is your child participating in the social aspect of the meal or is the focus strictly on food or avoidance of eating (i.e., shuffling food around the plate, hiding food in the napkin, lots of participation in cooking but not eating, etc.)?

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

Please share with me your observations from the holiday mealtime.

Most importantly, use your observations to further refine your refeeding strategy and even the most difficult meal, even if it is upsetting or not ideal in some way, can be utilized for future recovery.


Dr. Joy Jacobs is a clinical psychologist and author who provides individual, family and group therapy for children and teens with eating disorders, body image concerns, and/or weight concerns. more...

Subscribe to One More Bite

Current Issue

Let It Go!

It can take a radical reboot to get past old hurts and injustices.