Eating Disorder Triggers and Food Anxiety
Last week, I shared with you some of my tips for managing eating disorder triggers when attending social events. This week, I’d like to continue by discussing eating disorder triggers related to food anxiety and how to avoid and cope. These include:
Knowing the lay of the land. If you know you feel very self conscious about eating in front of others and you have to attend any kind of event which includes a sit down menu, do your homework. If you’re having a meal at a restaurant, look at the menu online. Planning what you will order ahead of time can sometimes be reassuring. If it isn’t a restaurant with free choice, usually the RSVP will give a choice of courses, which to an extent achieves the same thing. I find by planning ahead, it can take off a lot of the pressure and anxiety that comes from choosing food on the fly.
2) Get ready mentally before heading out the door. Picture yourself having a good time and how you will bypass potential scenarios which could have triggering moments. Then, if they come true, you’ll have an easier time actually getting through the whole thing. Very often, I’ll picture being excited to see some people or talking about certain topics. I also try to look forward to making new acquaintances. In my case, normally, a big eating disorder trigger was that the more surrounded I felt by people, the lonelier I felt. That feeling of loneliness would usually lead to restricting or overeating, and eventually regrets; i.e. either starving or purging. I was finally able to overcome that by having peer support – friends on speed dial who I can call/text during an event if I am feeling bad when I attend alone!
Avoid alcohol. If you’re attending a more formal setting, such as a black tie event or a work function in the evening, there will likely be alcohol. If alcohol is a major eating disorder trigger for you, ask for non-alcoholic beverages. If you make that choice and people ask about it, you can either be honest if you’re at that stage of your eating disorder recovery or just say that you don’t feel like drinking. Often times, you’ll find others who won’t drink as well, whether a designated driver, someone who is pregnant, etc.
4) Getting comfortable with conversation. In terms of conversation, we each have certain topics we feel less comfortable talking about. These topics are not necessarily only related to comments about your appearance; they can also be about your professional life, your dating life, etc. They can’t always be avoided, but a well-timed “powder room break” or forcefully changing the topic, can go a long way. At the end of the day, remember that while some people can be insensitive, most are just trying to make small talk, so they won’t notice or mind you changing the topic. In my case, now that I’ve become a public activist, people in my circles tend to know what topics I don’t want to talk about and most have been quite accommodating.
Lastly, remember that as hard as it seems for you, any setting with a crowd of people likely means that there are others in the room that are facing their own demons, people whose struggles are just as real. You may never meet, but take comfort, if you can, that even in a crowd, you are not alone in your recovery.
Lemoine, P. (2013, June 25). Eating Disorder Triggers and Food Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivinged/2013/06/eating-disorder-triggers-and-food-anxiety