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'We can't just switch it off': How it feels to have an eating disorder at Christmas – Herald Planet

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Matthew Broberg-Moffitt, 37, remembers the first Christmas clearly. He was 16 years old and was helping his grandmother cook in the kitchen of their home in Nebraska, US. She asked him to taste the gravy she was making and tell her whether it needed seasoning. But he couldn’t bring himself to put the spoon in his mouth. Two decades later, he still has that feeling. Last year, when his mother-in-law took over a stuffing he was making, he felt so upset he had to leave the festivities for the day.

Broberg-Moffitt has had a non-specified eating disorder since late childhood and says, like many with disordered eating, that the festive period – with its intense focus on food, alcohol, treats and overindulging – is particularly difficult. In order to deal with it he tries to be involved in the preparation of food, so he can control what goes into the dishes. Pretending to snack while cooking is also an excuse he uses if he doesn’t want to eat later.

Daniela Beck, from Woking, was diagnosed with anorexia in 2017 and also makes sure she is in charge of cooking at Christmas to manage her food-related anxiety. “I find it easier that way,” she says. The 23-year-old also practices eating the components of her Christmas meal in the weeks before, and asks family not to gift her any food or clothes. But the hardest bit? The narrative of over-indulging and then dieting in January. “You have to participate and then a week later are told to go on a diet because you were ‘naughty’ at Christmas,” she says.

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There are approximately 1.25 million people in the UK with an eating disorder, according to BEAT, the UK’s largest dedicated charity. The disorders affect predominantly girls and young women between the ages of 12-20, but men also make up 25 per cent of sufferers. Recent research from the NHS information centre showed up to 6.4 per cent of the population displayed signs of an eating disorder. 

Although eating disorders can be triggered at any time in the year, many with conditions like anorexia or bulimia – which the NHS says are characterised by people to try and restrict their weight – can find Christmas particularly challenging. “With such an intense focus on food and family, Christmas can be an understandably difficult time for people managing an eating disorder,” Sarah Murphy, associate director for advice at Rethink Mental Illness, tells The Independent

Caroline Price, director of services at BEAT says she often sees people particularly struggling in December. “The Christmas period can be extremely difficult for people with all kinds of eating disorders. The pressure to eat large amounts can be triggering for people with binge eating disorder and bulimia, as well as causing anxiety for people with anorexia.”

“Christmas itself doesn’t trigger my eating disorder but the opportunity to be triggered is much more than usual because of all the things that are associated with the holiday,” says Jason Fisher from Manchester who has had binge eating disorder since he was 10. Although the 20-year-old loves Christmas – “I put my tree up on 1 November” – his coping techniques, like meal prepping, are hard to maintain with lots of spontaneous meals out and abnormal treats like advent calendars. “I find myself sneaking extra food during the holidays, and one Christmas I just spent lying on the floor night after night full of nothing but hatred for what I was,” he says. “I desperately wanted some help and support for how I was feeling.” 

Some people find the period so hard they create ways to remove themselves from the festivities entirely. 

Sophie Smith, 28, from London, who suffers from periodic anorexia and recurrent bulimia says she would purposefully ask for more shifts in her bar job in the weeks leading up to Christmas, so that she could avoid socialising and therefore reduce her calorie intake. She would also spend long parts of Christmas Day in bed asleep for the same reason. “It was a safe way to remove myself from these situations without being judged or questioned,” she explains.

Others find that they are unable to cope at home and are admitted to hospital or a treatment programme over the period. Rebecca Quinlan, 31, from Chelmsford in Essex, who was diagnosed with anorexia in 2008, had to spend several Christmases in hospital because of how extreme her eating disorder became around the holiday period. 

Before she was admitted she remembers getting up at 5am on Christmas morning to exercise in the kitchen for two hours, before anyone woke up. She worried having one extra Brussels sprout would make her gain weight, and would even stop herself smelling the food in case she “inhaled calories”. One year she got so angry at the portion of turkey served by her mum she threw the plate across the room in front of her family.

“[Christmas] was a stark reminder that while I thought I had been doing well and my eating disorder was getting smaller, actually it was still very much there,” she says. “I was so down the whole time because I was obsessing about what I was eating and how I could burn calories.”

Similarly, Hope Virgo, 29, from London, who was diagnosed with anorexia 16 years ago, says she remembers a Christmas that really showed her how far her illness had come to taking over her life. She was so determined to avoid eating she caused a scene at the dinner table and used the distraction to hide food in her pockets. 

“I would shove it in to my pockets then empty it out later on when I had the chance. It was horrid looking back there was meat and gravy in the pockets of my jacket, dripping through. But I felt like it was the only way. Up until that point it had been fairly easy to go under the radar, but my family were on eggshells around me that Christmas.” 

Ms Quinlan says what triggers her eating disorder at Christmas, more than food, is the perception that it is the “most wonderful time of the year”. She says: “I feel so far removed from this so Christmas heightens my feelings of sadness and loneliness.”

Ms Price, from BEAT, says this is common among those with eating disorders. “People with eating disorders often try to hide their illness and at Christmas when eating is a social occasion – often with people who they do not see frequently – they may feel ashamed and want to isolate themselves from others,” she says.

This emotional impact cannot be underestimated. Jodie, who did not want her surname to be used, 24, from Hertfordshire, was diganosed with anorexia in 2019 and says getting ready to spend her first Christmas with the eating disorder diagnosis is “terrifying”. “This year I don’t just feel stressed. I don’t just feel anxious. I feel absolutely terrified. I feel full of dread.”

Cara Sturgess, 29, from Hampshire, who has had anorexia for 17 years, also says that one of the most misunderstood parts of eating disorders is that it cannot be “switched off” just because the social calendar requires you eat and drink. She says: “We can’t pretend that everything is okay for the sake of Christmas.”

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So how can the festive period be managed best for those managing eating disorders? Ms Price says for the sufferer themselves there are a few things they can do, including planning ahead and sharing concerns with those closest to them. “It’s important to plan ahead and openly discuss when and how food will be involved over the Christmas period.

“It can help to steer attention away from food, so once meals are over, find activities that focus on something else, such as a family walk, playing board games, or watching a funny film together.”

But more importantly, for family and friends, avoid comments such as ”don’t you look healthy?” or “haven’t you done well eating your dinner?” as these could be misinterpreted and cause more harm than good.

Ms Quinlan says people should try not to talk about over-eating. “This triggers my ED into panic mode and I [feel] I must never ever do that.”

Rebecca Lindley, 26, from Sheffield, who has had anorexia for 12 years, says: “Stop talking about the diet you’re going to go on in January and don’t use words like ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’ around food. This whole mentality makes people with ED feel that they can’t enjoy themselves around Christmas without making up for it later.”

Ms Murphy recommends that the most important thing for friends and family to do is show patience, love and understanding. “Accept that you might not understand everything that a loved one is going through. Instead positively reinforce your relationship with them as much as possible.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this article, you can contact the following organisations for support: the BEAT helpline on 0808 801 0677​ or Mind on 0300 123 3393​.

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Dentists, teachers disappointed they won't be prioritized for vaccine in B.C. – BarrieToday

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VANCOUVER — Dentists, bus drivers and teachers are among the essential workers who are disappointed they won’t be given priority to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in British Columbia.

B.C. rolled out its vaccination plan on Friday, revealing that after the most vulnerable groups have been immunized, shots will be given out according to age, with the oldest residents first in line.

That means many people who have not been able to work from home during the pandemic, including grocery store workers, police officers and mail carriers, will have to wait to get the vaccine along with others in their age group.

The British Columbia Dental Association has written a letter to Premier John Horgan strongly urging him to include dentists in Stage 2 of the vaccination plan, alongside family doctors and medical specialists.

“Dentistry is an essential service. More importantly, dental care, including aerosol-generating dental procedures, are provided to patients who cannot wear a mask during treatment,” said association president Dr. Anthony Nadolski in the letter.

“B.C. dentists continue to do everything they can to ensure dental offices are safe for patients and staff. Early access to vaccines will ensure continued access to urgent and emergency dental care.”

Other agencies such as the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have included dentists and dental workers in Stage 2 along with doctors and specialists not directly involved in providing care to COVID-19 patients, Nadolski added.

More recently, Ontario included dentistry in its second stage because dentists generally provide in-person care and many dental procedures are urgent and cannot be delayed, he said.

The B.C. Ministry of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

The province initially suggested that people delivering essential services such as teachers, grocery store workers and those in law enforcement could be prioritized to get the vaccine. 

But when the finalized plan was released on Friday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said scientific evidence supports an age-based approach because older populations are at much higher risk of infection and death from COVID-19.

Currently, hospital workers, Indigenous communities and long-term care home residents, staff and essential visitors are among those being vaccinated in Stage 1 of the plan.

Stage 2 will begin in February and include people 80 and over, Indigenous seniors over 65, general practitioners and medical specialists.

In April, the province will start vaccinating the general public according to five-year age groupings, starting with seniors aged 75 to 79 before moving on to those aged 70 to 74 and so on.  

However, Henry added that the approval of more vaccines may mean the province’s plan could be revised to vaccinate essential workers between April and June.

Metro Vancouver bus drivers are “very disappointed” they will not be prioritized while they risk their lives to provide transportation to the public, said Balbir Mann, president of Unifor Local 111.

The union is calling on the provincial government to immediately change the plan and include transit operators in Stage 2.

“We’re basically frontline workers, taking people to work and grocery shopping. Our members are real heroes,” said Mann. “They’re putting their lives in front of this to help out the general public.”

Teachers are also disappointed there is no prioritization for front-line workers who have kept schools, public services and the economy open, said B.C. Teachers Federation President Teri Mooring.

“However, the vaccine supply limit is beyond our control and those among us who are most vulnerable of death and serious illness must be vaccinated first,” she said in a statement. 

Hopefully more vaccines are approved and the immunization strategy will be appropriately adjusted and accelerated, she said.

Mooring added if teachers are not prioritized for vaccines, the government must take immediate action to improve safety measures in schools, including mandatory masks, better physical distancing and ventilation upgrades.

“There is no denying that teachers are stressed, anxious and even afraid. We do not have the layers of protection in our schools that exist in other environments.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021.

Laura Dhillon Kane, The Canadian Press

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Dentists, teachers disappointed they won't be prioritized for vaccine in B.C. – St. Albert Today

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VANCOUVER — Dentists, bus drivers and teachers are among the essential workers who are disappointed they won’t be given priority to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in British Columbia.

B.C. rolled out its vaccination plan on Friday, revealing that after the most vulnerable groups have been immunized, shots will be given out according to age, with the oldest residents first in line.

That means many people who have not been able to work from home during the pandemic, including grocery store workers, police officers and mail carriers, will have to wait to get the vaccine along with others in their age group.

The British Columbia Dental Association has written a letter to Premier John Horgan strongly urging him to include dentists in Stage 2 of the vaccination plan, alongside family doctors and medical specialists.

“Dentistry is an essential service. More importantly, dental care, including aerosol-generating dental procedures, are provided to patients who cannot wear a mask during treatment,” said association president Dr. Anthony Nadolski in the letter.

“B.C. dentists continue to do everything they can to ensure dental offices are safe for patients and staff. Early access to vaccines will ensure continued access to urgent and emergency dental care.”

Other agencies such as the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have included dentists and dental workers in Stage 2 along with doctors and specialists not directly involved in providing care to COVID-19 patients, Nadolski added.

More recently, Ontario included dentistry in its second stage because dentists generally provide in-person care and many dental procedures are urgent and cannot be delayed, he said.

The B.C. Ministry of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

The province initially suggested that people delivering essential services such as teachers, grocery store workers and those in law enforcement could be prioritized to get the vaccine. 

But when the finalized plan was released on Friday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said scientific evidence supports an age-based approach because older populations are at much higher risk of infection and death from COVID-19.

Currently, hospital workers, Indigenous communities and long-term care home residents, staff and essential visitors are among those being vaccinated in Stage 1 of the plan.

Stage 2 will begin in February and include people 80 and over, Indigenous seniors over 65, general practitioners and medical specialists.

In April, the province will start vaccinating the general public according to five-year age groupings, starting with seniors aged 75 to 79 before moving on to those aged 70 to 74 and so on.  

However, Henry added that the approval of more vaccines may mean the province’s plan could be revised to vaccinate essential workers between April and June.

Metro Vancouver bus drivers are “very disappointed” they will not be prioritized while they risk their lives to provide transportation to the public, said Balbir Mann, president of Unifor Local 111.

The union is calling on the provincial government to immediately change the plan and include transit operators in Stage 2.

“We’re basically frontline workers, taking people to work and grocery shopping. Our members are real heroes,” said Mann. “They’re putting their lives in front of this to help out the general public.”

Teachers are also disappointed there is no prioritization for front-line workers who have kept schools, public services and the economy open, said B.C. Teachers Federation President Teri Mooring.

“However, the vaccine supply limit is beyond our control and those among us who are most vulnerable of death and serious illness must be vaccinated first,” she said in a statement. 

Hopefully more vaccines are approved and the immunization strategy will be appropriately adjusted and accelerated, she said.

Mooring added if teachers are not prioritized for vaccines, the government must take immediate action to improve safety measures in schools, including mandatory masks, better physical distancing and ventilation upgrades.

“There is no denying that teachers are stressed, anxious and even afraid. We do not have the layers of protection in our schools that exist in other environments.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021.

Laura Dhillon Kane, The Canadian Press

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A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Jan. 24, 2021 – BarrieToday

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The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:30 p.m. ET on Sunday Jan. 24, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 15,213 new vaccinations administered for a total of 816,451 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 2,154.265 per 100,000.

There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 1,122,450 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 72.74 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland is reporting 3,258 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 8,549 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.326 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 16,500 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 51.81 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 1,423 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 6,525 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 41.134 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 9,225 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 70.73 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting 2,975 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,575 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.836 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 28,850 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 36.66 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 21,675 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 48.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 8,503 new vaccinations administered for a total of 218,755 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 25.565 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 238,100 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 91.88 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 4,427 new vaccinations administered for a total of 280,573 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.101 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 411,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.16 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting 1,389 new vaccinations administered for a total of 28,941 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.017 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 55,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 52.01 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 654 new vaccinations administered for a total of 33,039 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 28.019 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 32,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 101 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 240 new vaccinations administered for a total of 99,047 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 22.50 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 122,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 80.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 110,566 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.546 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 144,550 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.49 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,730 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 89.382 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 35 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 25.9 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,893 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 41.956 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 32 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 13.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,822 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 98.693 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 12,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 31 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 31.85 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 24, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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