All the latest news and updates from
Calgary Silver Linings Foundation.

December 2016

Warm Holiday Wishes from the Board

The holiday season is upon us and on behalf of the Board of Silver Linings Foundation, I want to extend our warmest holiday wishes.. Knowing that Christmas time can be especially  stressful for families and individuals struggling with eating disorders, may you find some relative much deserved peace and quality time with loved ones. To help with this, please check out the article below by one of our clinical advisors, Adele Fox, that is full of practical coping strategies for the holidays. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to again thank everyone who supported Silver Linings in 2016! Our Grand Canyon Run, the Brett Wilson Garden Party and the Calgary Women’s Run were certainly fundraising highlights. But every investment of funds, volunteerism or survey feedback  helps us keep progressing towards our goal of enhancing and expanding eating disorder care for Albertans by establishing the province’s first specialized residential eating disorder treatment centre.

Yours in leading the way to a Silver Lining,   

Cendrine Tremblay
Board Chair

Surviving the Holidays with an Eating Disorder

By Adele Fox
Registered Psychologist with and
Calgary Silver Linings Board member and clinical advisor

For most people, the holiday season is a wonderful time of year. It is all about families, friends and coworkers reuniting, socializing and celebrating. Yet for those who suffer with eating disorders, often this can be the worst time of the year. For those trapped in the private hell of an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, the holidays can magnify their personal struggles and cause them great internal pain and turmoil.

The overwhelming prevalence of food during the holiday season makes coping with an eating disorder extraordinarily difficult. Turn on the television and you are greeted by an advertisement for sumptuous Christmas fare; go to the supermarket and you are bombarded by brightly packaged goodies; go to a family gathering and you are offered food, food and more food. All of this is far from “merry”. 

An alcoholic can avoid drinking situations. A compulsive gambler can avoid betting shops. But altogether avoiding eating and food is simply not possible. Therefore Christmas, with its preoccupation with feasting, often can invoke for those with eating disorders, overwhelming feelings of panic, anxiety, fear and even revulsion.

In addition to food excess, the holiday season is characterized by an increase in media advertisements promoting weight loss and other appearance-related motivations for entering the New Year. For someone with an eating disorder, this too can worsen symptoms. 

Lastly, for many there may also be social pressure to eat with relatives or friends who do not know about their struggles with food, eating or body image, and who may unintentionally expose or criticize these struggles. The distress and anxiety provoked by this can be so severe as to cause tears, panic attacks, angry outbursts or total avoidance. Tension and arguments may also ensue. 

So as you can see, Christmas is not a particularly “merry” time for those with eating disorders and their loved ones. However, we have some suggestions for managing and supporting the illness during the holiday season that we believe can reduce stress and increase peace of mind. 

1) For someone struggling with an eating disorder

Be Proactive! The holiday is not a time to challenge yourself, but rather  a time to embrace as much joy as possible by setting your environment up for success. Plan out when you will eat meals and snacks, what they will be and who will be present, as this will enable you to have as predictable and safe an experience as possible.

Prioritize. The holidays can be a whirlwind of parties, gift exchanges and visiting family and friends. This can add stress and compound what is already difficult. Scale back on events and obligations to give yourself time to relax and recharge.

Have an exit strategy so that if you become overwhelmed you can make an escape. Tell people you can not stay long as you have something to do or someone waiting for you or ask a trusted friend to call you at a certain time as a reason to step away. Try to avoid putting yourself in situations where you have no control over being able to take care of yourself.

Eat regularly. Do not starve yourself in anticipation of Christmas dinner or an event. This can lead to an increase in symptoms and stress. Eating 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day will better enable you to manage your urges and supply your body with the proper fuel it needs.

Take a time out if having to eat at a buffet or family style (food in serving dishes on the table). When you sit down for a family style meal, review all the food options, unless you are able to find these out ahead of time, and then excuse yourself in order to breathe and visualize what you will choose for your plate. Similarly at a buffet, do a walkabout of the food table and then step back and consciously make your food selections. Fake a bathroom break if you need more time to plan! Remember that even though there are numerous food items to choose from, you do not have to choose them all. 

Limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol can cause you to become disinhibited and lead to binging/purging behaviors and difficulties with managing your emotions. As well, you may find yourself being reluctant to eat because you believe that you have already consumed your calories in alcohol.   

Take one or two food items that are safe for you if attending a house function, so that, worst case scenario, you will feel comfortable eating something. Another option is to plan to arrive at a function after the meal to simply partake in the after dinner component.

Most of all, do not let your eating disorder monopolize your holiday. Take the time to acknowledge all of the things around you that do put a smile on your face: a loved one’s bad singing voice, your friend’s crazy holiday sweater, lights on a tree or your co-worker’s antics at the office party!  

2) For loved ones

Avoid talking about dieting and making weight/shape or appearance related comments. If you want to share a compliment, focus on non-appearance related traits: a person’s laugh, how their eyes light up when they smile or their great sense of humor or intelligence. 

The holidays are not the time to cheerlead or challenge a loved who has an eating disorder. Doing so may only draw unwanted attention and cause added stress. If you are not sure what your loved one needs ask them.  Saying “What do you need me to say or do that can help you with this?” is a great way to find out how to be supportive.  If you think that a family member may not take well to this then reconsider inviting them.

If possible, serve meals in the kitchen so that there is not an abundance of food on the table. Also, ensure that you have a protein item that your loved one will eat. Serve fun foods (chocolates, candy, dessert items) at set times or lay these out for a limited time only then put them away or send them home with guests. 

Take the focus off food and appearance. Board games, watching a movie, making a snowman and attending holiday events in the community can all take the focus off the stressors someone with an eating disorder is navigating.

Take care of yourself too!  Make sure that you have support such as a therapist, a trusted friend, online support groups or literature on the recovery process. Loving someone who is struggling with an eating disorder can be exhausting and stressful. 

3) Here is some additional information that can be helpful:  With best holiday wishes. May you not only survive but thrive this holiday season! 

Adele Fox and Calgary Silver Linings Foundation

Board News

We are proud and excited to welcome Heather Heasman to Silver Linings’ Advisory Board. Heather brings a wealth of experience that will surely be of great value to our growing Foundation.

She is a management consultant with over 20 years of experience in the private and nonprofit sectors. She is the Past Chair of the Woods Homes Foundation Board and has been involved with Woods Homes for 14 years in a variety of roles: Chair HR Committee, Risk Management, Executive Committee and took a leadership role in the Never Give Up Capital Campaign which raised $10.5 million.

As a management consultant, Heather specializes in organizational performance, strategy and change management. Her work in the nonprofit sector has focused on fund development, governance, donor relations and social enterprise. Also, Heather is a Professor at the Bissett School of Business, specializing in entrepreneurship and business communications. She will advise and assist Silver Linings with establishing partnerships, securing funding, and managing governance and donor stewardship. 

Family and Client Support Group News

Silver Linings’ client support groups, for individuals over 18 with an eating disorder, continue to be fully booked. By request, our parent support group is taking a “breather” over the hectic, and often emotionally challenging, holiday season. For anyone interested in joining our next group sessions, please email us at For more information about our support groups, please see our website.

Community Engagement Updates

1) Eating Disorder - Advocacy & Collaboration Table
Silver Linings continues to get involved in select community initiatives related to eating disorders. Your assistance - only 10 minutes worth - is requested with the following project. 

As mentioned in a prior newsletter, Silver Linings has joined a Calgary-based round table called ED-ACT, for Eating Disorder - Advocacy & Collaboration Table. This roundtable is comprised of eating disorder treatment specialists, counsellors and health care providers; Alberta Health Services administration; other eating disorder focused community organizations; and individuals with lived experience and/or family members of someone with an eating disorder. The mandate of the group is to discuss the current continuum of care in Calgary for eating disorders, identify gaps in these services and, within year one, propose solutions that address an identified gap.

Via a short survey, ED-ACT would like to hear from individuals with eating disorders, their loved ones, professionals working with individuals with eating disorders and healthcare administrators, about what you see as the most pressing gaps/priorities in the current continuum of care. The survey only takes about 10 minutes to complete, and responses are completely anonymous. Your input is greatly appreciated and we thank you in advance for your valuable contribution to this initiative! Click here to view the survey.

2) Body Image Related Art Showing by Lizzie Carr
On Friday, December 2, 2016, local, and very talented, portrait artist Lizzie Carr, held her first art show, at Artpoint Gallery & Studio Society. The theme of Lizzie’s pieces was Body Dysmorphia. It was a beautiful, courageous and thought-provoking exhibit, and Lizzie donated the proceeds from all of her print sales to Silver Linings Foundation. Thank you very much Lizzie, and congratulations on a successful, awareness raising event.

3) Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW)
Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW) takes place on February 1-7, 2017. For the first time ever, a number of awareness raising activities will occur in Calgary, and Silver Linings is helping with the planning of some of these. Please - follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook as we will be sure to post more details about EDAW as we get closer to February 1.
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Calgary Silver Linings Foundation strives to expand and enhance the continuum of care for eating disorders in Alberta. Learn more at

Calgary Silver Linings Foundation

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