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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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Jordan to vaccinate children aged 12 years and older against COVID-19 – WNWN-FM



Jordan to vaccinate children aged 12 years and older against COVID-19 | WIN 98.5 Your Country | WNWN-FM | Battle Creek, MI

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COVID spread continues to slow in Waterloo Region –



WATERLOO REGION — The incidence rate of COVID-19 in the region continued a slow decline over the weekend, and has now reached the lowest level since last October.

According to the latest numbers released Sunday by Waterloo Region Public Health, the seven-day moving average rate of cases per 100,000 population fell to 2.5 cases per 100,000.

Although the incidence of COVID in the region is still three times higher than the provincial rate of 0.8 cases per 100,000, it’s a considerable improvement over early July, when new infections in the region were being reported at six times the provincial rate.

Sunday’s incidence rate is the lowest the region has seen since Halloween.

Part of that decline is attributable to vaccination, as more people get shots in arms.

As of Saturday, 81.36 per cent of the region’s residents over age 12 have received at least one dose, while 64.63 per cent have been fully vaccinated.

But it’s clear that it’s becoming more challenging to reach the remaining residents who haven’t yet been vaccinated.

The pace of daily vaccinations has dropped by almost half since peaking July 11. This mirrors a provincial decline as those eager to get immunized have done so.

The vast majority of shots given in July have been second doses to complete full vaccinations. Only 510 first doses were administered Saturday out of 4,969 given to regional residents, some of them from a new mobile vaccination bus that visited the St. Jacobs market.

The number of positive cases in the region increased by nine, for a total of 18,280 since the pandemic began. It’s the first time since Oct. 26 that the daily increase in cases has been in single digits.

Other indicators also showed positive trends.

The number of active cases dropped overnight by 10 to 124.

The number of outbreaks decreased by one, for a total of eight outbreaks.

The number being treated for COVID in hospital remained steady at 13, while the number of those who have died from the virus was also unchanged at 282. Thirteen people were being treated in intensive care, unchanged from Saturday.

The number of variants of concern remained steady at 4,579.

A total of 537,724 test have been carried out in the region.

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Jordan to vaccinate children aged 12 years and older against COVID-19 – Egypt Independent



BEIRUT, July 24 (Reuters) – Jordan will start vaccinating children aged 12 years and older against COVID-19 from Sunday, the state news agency said on Saturday.

Children can be given the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine with the approval of a guardian with no prior appointment necessary, the agency quoted the health ministry as saying.

The decision comes as Jordan lifted most restrictions at the start of July, reopening gyms, pools and night clubs at hotels after cases dropped from a peak in March when several thousands of new cases were recorded daily.

Total active cases reached 7,489 on Friday with 331 new cases and four deaths.

Since the start of the pandemic, Jordan has recorded a total of 763,437 cases and 9,933 deaths.

Several other countries in the region are vaccinating children, including Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Reporting By Maha El Dahan Editing by Clelia Oziel

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