(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – As Thanksgiving approaches programs to help those who suffer from eating disorders are working overtime.

For years Madi O’Dell hid her eating disorder before her parents caught on.

“I was in middle school when it started,” said O’Dell

In 2009 the then 15-year-old high school sophomore spent five weeks at The Children’s Hospital for treatment.

“Not one of my favorite moments in my life so far,” said O’Dell.

She’s familiar with the stress and anxiety of what should be a fun holiday, and with those that come with an eating disorder.

People who have eating disorders, you think about it and they’re number one fear is eating,” said O’Dell.

Dr. Jenifer Hagman is the director of the eating disorder program at The Children’s Hospital where patients are preparing to fight their fears.

Dr. Hagman says those fighting food problems are told to make the holiday about something other than just eating.

“More on family, family values, and who you are with and what you’re thankful for,” said Hagman

She said it’s also this time of year that an illness might reveal itself.

“The vast majority of people with eating disorder haven’t told anyone,” said Hagman.

Madi, now 19, attends college on a soccer scholarship. She’s not cured, but in recovery in what she says is a never ending uphill climb.

“Having support at the table is always good,” said O’Dell

She now does outreach for The Children’s Hospital. During times like the holidays which could be a trigger into old habits, she says she turns to family and friends.


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