3 Tips to Be Comfortable Around Food in ED Recovery
At times, I don't feel comfortable around food, even in ED recovery. Some people seem surprised when I mention that, at times, I'm a bit uneasy about sharing a meal with others, or eating in public. "But aren't you doing well?" Yes, I'm doing well, thank you, but . . . ! Even in ED recovery maintenance, eating can potentially be stressful. I'd like to share some tips with you on how I get through it. And you can get more comfortable around food because as I've said many times, no matter where you're at in your eating disorder recovery, you are a stronger person than you think.
Being Comfortable Around Food: Three Tips to Help
- Be prepared and stick to your plan.
- Avoid food-centered triggers and situations you know don't work for you.
- Don't make excuses for your behavior.
Let's explore those tips in more depth.
1. Be Prepared and Stick to Your Plan
Over the least 6 years, my eating habits and patterns have changed. In eating disorder therapy, I was able to pinpoint that my mood had often affected how the mental illness manifested itself. Depending on how I viewed my own self-worth, I would decide whether I "deserved" to nourish myself, or abuse my body by bingeing and purging, or in extreme cases, not eat at all following these episodes.
It's with a lot of self-reflection and honesty that I was able to face the facts a few years ago: I accept that eating disorder triggers might always come up in my life in relation to food or body image, and that is why I must know how to cope with them. Now that I've been in ED recovery maintenance for a while, I own my recovery. This means I plan what I eat ahead of time, make an effort to pack a lunch, and try to slow down around noon to take time to eat it. If I must eat out, I make sure to plan and incorporate that into my week, so that I don't skip a meal or try to rationalize reasons not to take a break as a punishment to cope with a negative feeling that might come up during a workday.
2. Avoid Food-Centered Triggers and What You Know Won't Work for You
In terms of diet, I've also realized certain foods could be triggers. Meaning that when I ate certain things, sometimes that would result in my not feeling good about myself physically, or in my mind. Though no foods should be, in theory, off-limits in recovery, knowing how they'll make me feel means that I still put certain limits on some. For example, I sometimes choose to skip certain desserts after holiday meals, or stop after two drinks at a cocktail party.
This point was also a key lesson in my road to ED recovery: it indicated that my relationship with food was changing in a huge way. I now had started to decide to eat or not eat certain foods because I knew they wouldn't work for me. The guilt or shame, or feeling of lack of control moved away from the paradigm of choosing to have or not to have certain foods, to one of actively managing my food choices.
3. Don't Make Excuses for Your Behavior
This is a tricky one and worth discussing. I mean that you don't have to make any excuses for your behavior because you don't have to justify yourself to anyone but yourself or people you completely trust on the matter when you do something (My Eating Disorder Was A Mental Illness: I Hated My Body).
While you might find yourself with people who feel the need to comment about what you choose to, or not to, eat, or even about what your body looks like, etc., you don't have to feel that you must engage in the conversation. In practice, this means that you don't need to explain or justify why you're having a small meal while others are consuming large portions of everything. On the contrary, the same holds for not having to discuss why you're eating more than usual.
From personal experience, I know comments can be big triggers in ED recovery; I've certainly felt it and still do in stressful times, but recovery means understanding that while you can't change others, you can change how you interact with them. In these situations, I find it best to change the topic, or ignore the comment altogether. Don't feel the need to discuss your recovery, or relation to food, just because someone else brings it up. Rather, you might want to make it a point to think about what was said and in turn, start a discussion when you feel stronger or more comfortable with the idea of having a back and forth on the matter.
I hope these small tips can encourage you, or help you in journey to ED recovery. I'd love to hear some thoughts of your own on this topic. How do you deal with food and nutrition?
Lemoine, P. (2014, February 11). 3 Tips to Be Comfortable Around Food in ED Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, July 4 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivinged/2014/02/3-tips-to-be-comfortable-around-food-in-recovery
Author: Patricia Lemoine
I find eating with others stressful or annoying. Just having to carry on a conversation is distracting from enjoying the food. Then afterwards I feel like I missed the meal or didn't get to savor it enough.
Hello Mary! Thanks for writing. I can relate. With time, it might feel a bit easier to detach from your surroundings in order to focus on what you're doing, like enjoying the meal.
If you feel you didn't savor the meal enough, take comfort in the fact that there is always another one to come! Sometimes, that helps me.