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'It was like walking into a nightmare': How holiday meals heighten the stress of eating disorders –



Jenni Schaefer doesn’t consider the holidays a stressful time of year anymore, but it wasn’t always that way.

“It’s like night and day compared to back when I had an eating disorder,” says the Texas-based author of Living Without ED and senior fellow at The Meadows, a treatment centre for people grappling with eating disorders and other conditions.

“It’s really hard when a time of the year that’s supposed to be so joyful can be so triggering and so hard for people.”

Schaefer remembers struggling with her body image since she was four years old, staring at herself in the mirror in dance class and thinking she wasn’t good enough, she said. By the time she reached college, those insecurities had morphed into “full blown” anorexia.

When Jenni Schaefer was coping with an eating disorder, the holidays were ‘like walking into a nightmare,’ she says. (Valerie Fremin Photography)

When it came time for the holidays, “it was like walking into a nightmare because you never knew what people were going to say,” she told Cross Country Checkup.

Schaefer recalls family get-togethers being centred around food, with relatives cooking, constantly talking about what they were eating, and commenting on the appearance of family members, especially if they hadn’t seen each other in a while.

Meanwhile, she was stressing about whether she’d eaten too much, how she looked, and when she could “sneak in the next cookie.”

“The eating disorder really just strips away the joy and the meaning [of the holidays] and it strips away the family, and it’s devastating and it feels like it’s never going to end,” she said. 

But it can get better — with support, says Schaefer. She has been fully recovered from her eating disorder for over a decade now.

How to cope during the holidays

Schaefer says it’s important for people to avoid asking loved ones about food or their weight if that person is struggling with an eating disorder. Instead, ask what you can do to support them, she suggests.

“It always helped me when my family planned things that did not surround food,” she said. “For instance, we would go bowling on Christmas Day, or go outside for a walk, or play a basketball game or go to a movie.”

Schaeffer recommends being truthful with loved ones about an eating disorder, so they can give you support. (Zivica Kerkez/Shutterstock)

If you don’t know what’s going to be served at your holiday dinner, you can call ahead to find out and make a plan for how to approach the meal, Schaefer says. If you have a dietitian, she recommends getting their guidance.

Maureen Plante, co-director at the Eating Disorder Support Network of Alberta, also suggests finding a friend to text or call if you start to feel anxious about going to a holiday event. 

As someone who has also struggled with anorexia, bulimia and over-exercising, Plante says too much focus on food can cause people with eating disorders to isolate themselves by limiting social interactions.

Plante says it’s important for family and friends to really listen to a person who is struggling with an eating disorder, and to find out how they can support them. (Submitted by Maureen Plante)

“So I think it’s so important [for people with eating disorders] to be able to talk about it,” she said. 

Although it may take courage, Schaefer suggests telling people the truth about what you’re struggling with.

“There’s so much secrecy and shame around an eating disorder and the holidays a great time to be able to be honest,” she said. “That’s what the holidays are really about: connection and meaning and purpose.”

Plante says it’s important to really listen to what a person with an eating disorder has to say.

“Family is so important. And just taking the time to be present with that person, to talk to them, to check in with them, not being judgmental, and even coming up with a safety plan if need be,” she said.

Where to get help

National Eating Disorder Information Centre

Toll-free helpline: 1-866-633-4220

Canada Suicide Prevention Service

Toll-free 1-833-456-4566

Text: 45645


In French: Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553) 

Kids Help Phone: 

Phone: 1-800-668-6868

Text: TALK to 686868 (English) or TEXTO to 686868 (French)

Live Chat counselling at 

Post-Secondary Student Helpline:

Phone: 1-866-925-5454 

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre

If you’re worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them, says the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. Here are some warning signs:

  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Purposelessness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Feeling trapped.
  • Hopelessness and helplessness.
  • Withdrawal.
  • Anger.
  • Recklessness.
  • Mood changes.

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DeMille Anticipates Broader Rollout Of 4th Dose Vaccination – Country 105



The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) is getting ready for the annual flu shot campaign, as well as a broader ask for arms to get the fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The province expanded the second booster dose eligibility on April 7th to those who are 60 and over as well as First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals and their non-Indigenous household members aged 18 and over.

“At this time, I’m not hearing any indication of the province opening up (eligibility) to the broader population, and I’m not sure really we would have evidence that would be needed at this time,” DeMille told Acadia News Monday. “We are much lower in terms of the amount of COVID-19 (cases) in the province of Ontario. With the summertime, we see overall less spread (of the virus).”

DeMille did mention that the District anticipates the call will get broader in the fall.

As of June 21st, 133,334 people within the TBDHU have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 80,719 have received three doses.

Officials have given fourth doses to 18,687 individuals as of the last update.

DeMille was also asked about a return to school in September, and what that might look like after Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told Federal MPs on June 8th that there is a real threat of the seventh wave of COVID-19.

The Medical Officer says it’s hard to look into the crystal ball and pinpoint what will happen based on the fact that right now a majority of the new infections are the Omicron variant.

“The schools overall did fairly well,” DeMille stated. “We know that a lot of people did get infected, which can cause a lot of disruption because people still need to isolate so that they are not spreading (the virus) to others. Likely a lot of spread happened in the schools when we re-opened in January and through the last few waves.”

DeMille noted that the schools took a lot of measures that helped in previous waves, including improving ventilation.

“I anticipate that (masking) will always be optional, but when the Omicron variant is spreading, it’s always helpful when people are masking in indoor spaces when they are interacting with others,” said DeMille. “(Down the road) we might recommend that people wear masks in schools, but that advice will really depend on what we see circulating, how much it is circulating and what the impact is on schools.”

DeMille mentioned whether it is the school, the workplace, or any other indoor space, the goal is to return to as normal as possible in an eventual post-pandemic world.

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Monkeypox is not yet a global health emergency, says WHO – Global News



Monkeypox is not yet a global health emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) ruled on Saturday, although WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was deeply concerned about the outbreak.

“I am deeply concerned about the monkeypox outbreak, this is clearly an evolving health threat that my colleagues and I in the WHO Secretariat are following extremely closely,” Tedros said.

The “global emergency” label currently only applies to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing efforts to eradicate polio, and the U.N. agency has stepped back from applying it to the monkeypox outbreak after advice from a meeting of international experts.

Read more:

Canada signs $32.9M contract for smallpox drug with manufacturer Chimerix

There have been more than 3,200 confirmed cases of monkeypox and one death reported in the last six weeks from 48 countries where it does not usually spread, according to WHO.

So far this year almost 1,500 cases and 70 deaths in central Africa, where the disease is more common, have also been reported, chiefly in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Monkeypox, a viral illness causing flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, has been spreading largely in men who have sex with men outside the countries where it is endemic.

It has two clades – the West African strain, which is believed to have a fatality rate of around 1% and which is the strain spreading in Europe and elsewhere, and the Congo Basin strain, which has a fatality rate closer to 10%, according to WHO.

Click to play video: 'More than half of Canadians confident in monkeypox response, but 55% worried about spread: poll'

More than half of Canadians confident in monkeypox response, but 55% worried about spread: poll

More than half of Canadians confident in monkeypox response, but 55% worried about spread: poll – Jun 17, 2022

There are vaccines and treatments available for monkeypox, although they are in limited supply.

The WHO decision is likely to be met with some criticism from global health experts, who said ahead of the meeting that the outbreak met the criteria to be called an emergency.

However, others pointed out that the WHO is in a difficult position after COVID-19. Its January 2020 declaration that the new coronavirus represented a public health emergency was largely ignored by many governments until around six weeks later, when the agency used the word “pandemic” and countries took action.

(Reporting by Jennifer Rigby; additional reporting by Mrinmay Dey; Editing by Sandra Maler)

© 2022 Reuters

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Kingston, Ont., area health officials examining future of local vaccination efforts – Global News



More than 455,000 people in the Kingston region have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Now health officials say they’re using the summer months, with low infection rates, to look ahead to what fall might bring, urging those who are still eligible to get vaccinated do so.

Read more:

Kingston Health Sciences Centre to decommission COVID-19 field site

“Large, mass immunization clinics, mobile clinics, drive-thru clinics and small primary care clinics doing their own vaccine,” said Brian Larkin with KFL&A Public Health.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Gerald Evans says those who are still eligible for a third and fourth dose should take advantage and roll up their sleeves during the low-infection summer months.

“Now in 2022, although you still might get COVID, you’re probably not going to be very sick. You are less likely to transmit and ultimately that’s one of the ways we’re going to control the pandemic,” added Evans.

He expects another wave of COVID-19 to hit in late October to early November and that a booster may be made available for those younger than 60 who still aren’t eligible for a fourth dose.

Read more:

Kingston, Ont. COVID assessment centre cuts hours for the summer

“The best case scenario is a few more years of watching rises in cases, getting boosters to control things and ultimately getting out of it with this being just another coronavirus that just tends to cause a respiratory infection and worst-case scenario is a new variant where all the potential possibilities exist to have a big surge in cases and hopefully not a lot more serious illness,” said Evans.

Public Health says they’re still waiting for direction from the province on what’s to come this fall.

“We’re expecting that we would see more age groups and younger age groups be eligible for more doses or boosters but about when those ages start, we have yet to have that confirmed,” said Larkin.

The last 18 months of vaccines paving the way for the new normal could mean a yearly COVID booster alongside the annual flu shot.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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