For carer support, call us today: 0800 2 EDANZ or (09) 5222 679

December 2022 Newsletter

In this issue...

  • Free Webinar: Navigating the festive season
  • Tips for parents and whānau to plan and prepare for the festive season
  • Interoception in Anorexia Nervosa
  • Upcoming support meetings

While the festive season can be fun, for parents and caregivers caring for young people with eating disorders it can be the most challenging time of the year. The constant focus on food, often at gatherings with large groups of people, along with the lack of routine, can make it particularly difficult.

We have plenty of resources on our website that can help, and have also included some tips below for parents and whānau to prepare for the celebrations. 

Remember also that our helpline is available throughout the holiday period. The volunteers on the helpline have lived experience of supporting a loved one with an eating disorder. We have been there, we understand and we can provide hope.

Where you can, we encourage you to take a moment to have a break. We know that supporting those with eating disorders is relentless. We would also like to reinforce our message of hope – remember, recovery is possible.

We wish you, and your families, a safe holiday season. We can all look forward to the start of a new year.

The EDANZ Team

Navigating the festive season

Navigating the festive season Webinar

Eating Disorders Victoria (EDV) is running this free webinar sharing some strategies and tips on ways to navigate this festive and holiday season. 

EDV CEO Belinda Caldwell will be joined by panelists Vicki (EDV Carer Coach) and Dannii (EDV Stories of Recovery Ambassador) will answer your questions around navigating the holiday season. The event will be recorded but you need to register to receive the recording!

When? Tuesday 6th December, 9:00pm - 10:30pm NZDT, online via Zoom. 

Register here

To plan and prepare for the festive season

Speak with your loved one ahead of events

Ask your loved one how they are feeling about upcoming events or occasions. Try to be open and empathetic, to allow them to share with you the challenges they anticipate may arise and what they are worried about. Ask them how you can best support them, what they need, what would be helpful.

This will help you both to be prepared, as well as allow you to be realistic, and better able to manage expectations around group meals and eating together.

Reduce surprises

Uncertainty can cause increased anxiety in people struggling with an eating disorder. Preparation ahead of events to reduce surprises can be really helpful by allowing both you and your loved one to feel confident and clear about what to expect. 

If you are holding the event yourself, of course it is easier, but if others are hosting, it may still be possible to plan ahead to provide clarity and confidence.

For example, ahead of time:

  • Know who is going to be at lunch/dinner 
  • Know what is on the menu 
  • Ensure some “safe foods” are a part of the menu – perhaps you could ask the host to have certain foods included, and/or of course bring a contribution! 
  • Make a plan to be available to your person if they need you – some people find it helpful to have an agreed signal that gives the message “I’m struggling, help needed now”  

Inform others

Assist those whose company you will be in to understand what is going on for your loved one, and what they can do to make time together easier for them and for everyone in attendance. By giving others information and advice, you are setting the scene for them to be prepared and even to play a part in supporting your loved one.

Some people find it useful to send out a message in advance… here are some ideas you may find helpful:

As you may know XXXX is currently unwell with an eating disorder/Anorexia Nervosa/Bulimia Nervosa/ Binge Eating Disorder/ARFID, etc. An ED/AN/BN, etc is a serious biological brain-based illness. It is not a personality trait, a choice or a diet taken too far.     

This Illness causes XXXX very real anxiety and fear about eating. This can be confusing for others, since most of us have a hard time relating to a fear of eating nutritious, delicious food. As a result, it’s not uncommon to hear people trivialise or even joke about behaviours that for those who are ill with an ED/AN/BN, etc are symptoms of a very real illness, without realising this can be very hurtful and even damaging.

In the case of Anorexia Nervosa – to help put it in perspective – think of your worst fear (heights, claustrophobia, spiders, etc.) and being required to face that fear (stand on the edge of a cliff, ride in an elevator, encounter a snake) 6 times a day, every day. That would be really scary! That is what eating is like for XXXX right now. 

I realise everyone cares deeply for XXXX, and wants to assist in his/her recovery. Here are a few practical guidelines:  

Do not comment or ask questions about his/her weight or what s/he is (or is not) eating. In fact, it is best not to comment on anyone’s appearance, weight or food choices.

  1. Comments about appearance, though of course are usually well meaning, can be upsetting – instead how about greetings and comments such as: 
    It is really wonderful to see you / I always enjoy seeing you / I’m so thrilled to see you! 
    Or, if necessary:
    That colour looks so good on you / Your new hairstyle really suits you / I love your earrings
    Or even:
    Your gorgeous smile lights up the room…
  2. Refrain from comments about your own weight and/or desire to be thinner. Many of us do this without even realising it… usually in a self-deprecating way.
  3. DO spend time with XXXX as you normally would and include her/him as usual in activities and conversations.
  4. Be aware and respect that XXXX’s meals and snacks will be prepared and monitored by me. That may or may not include items from the ‘group’ meal
  5. XXXX is not allowed to participate in meal planning, food preparation or meal clean-up
  6. If you have questions about what s/he is (or is not) allowed to eat, please refer those questions to me. XXXX is not to be consulted about food choices
  7. Do not ask ‘why’ or other questions designed to figure out how this happened. While I realise that these conversations would be initiated with good intentions, there simply is no good answer. Conversations about the root cause of the illness can cause feelings of guilt and stress.
  8. I would be happy to share some great information with you about eating disorders/Anorexia Nervosa/ Bulimia Nervosa/Binge Eating Disorder/ARFID, etc. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you would like to know more about the latest knowledge of the illness and treatment…

Any ‘blame’ should be laid squarely at the feet of the illness itself. 

Interoception in Anorexia Nervosa

Interoception in Anorexia Nervosa

From Exchanges – Blog of the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders

Recent research suggests that bodily processes, in addition to unhelpful thought patterns, may be at the core of AN and other eating disorders. Find out more.


EDANZ Support Group Meetings

Upcoming support group meetings

EDANZ believes parents/carers have unique abilities to support one another and we hold regular meetings to which you are warmly invited. Currently, we're joining together around the country once a month thanks to Zoom videoconferencing technology. 

If you would like to participate in a virtual support group, please RSVP to and we'll send you the link.

We alternate monthly between evening and daytime meetings.

Next meeting:

    December: Friday 16th, 12pm-1pm

More information can be found on our website Parent/Carer Support Groups page

Remember: EDANZ helpline is open throughout all Covid 'traffic lights' – please don’t hesitate to contact us or leave a message on the phone 0800 2 EDANZ and we will get back to you as soon as we can. If you are concerned about the safety of someone, please ring 111 or go to the Emergency Department of your nearest hospital.

Did you know, we receive no regular funding?

Many families have told us they consider our support to be essential and life-saving. However, we are a volunteer organisation and rely totally on donations and grants to provide our services – many of which are currently self-funded. 

Demand for our services has reached unprecedented levels, but sadly donations are down as the pandemic has hit Kiwis hard over the past two years.

If you can, please consider donating to EDANZ

Your donation will enable us to continue our work providing support to families, education to healthcare providers and the community, and advocating for improved access to evidence-based treatment for all affected New Zealanders. 

Make a Donation