The only thing nerve wracking about jetting off for a week or two in tropical paradise should be deciding how many pairs of shorts to pack. But for those of us recovering from an eating disorder, the anxiety goes much deeper. Instead of looking forward to experiencing a new culture we’re worried about not being able to find ‘safe foods’. Any excitement for the journey ahead or gratitude for the opportunity is overshadowed by fear of losing control. But this time can be different. When you head out on vacay this summer, take advantage of these 5 ways to leave your eating disorder at home.
1) Pack loose fitting clothing.
Belly bloat has a knack of popping in at the most irritating times. And while you 100% can rock that tight dress or tiny shorts when you’re bloated, I understand if you if you don’t want to. Because while you’ll still look awesome, it may not feel so comfortable. Avoid turning a bit of bloat into a meltdown by having some flowy favorites you can slip into if belly bloat is bothering you. Don’t let a bit of bloat turn into a day or night plagued by bad body image. Remember that it’s only temporary, and in the meantime just wear something cozy that you feel good in.
2) Reframe how you think about food
Change the tape in your head from “I’m so afraid to be without my safe foods” to “I’m so excited to get to try cuisine and local favorites that I don’t have at home.” Think of eating as part of the experience that will enrich your travels (because it is!) rather than something to detract from your journey.
3) Toss out the myth that breaking from your normal routine will dramatically affect you
Your muscles will not disappear overnight. And a layer of fat will not appear overnight either, I promise. Even if you’re someone who exercises regularly, you can choose not to while on vacation! Your body will adjust accordingly in terms of energy conservation and metabolism. Our bodies are so much smarter than we are and chances are you need some rest anyway. We all do! So give your body a break, let exercise fall on the back-burner for a bit, and enjoy your surroundings.
4) Keep reaching for support
Even if you have to reach across a few continents! If you rely on weekly or bi-weekly therapy, find out if your therapist would be open to having a session or two over Skype (free on Mac or PC!) or Facetime. And remember that therapy can come in many forms. If talking to your mom daily helps keep you centered in recovery and feeling stable, carve out some time each day to do that. Maintaining the level of support you’re used to while you’re away will allow you to really enjoy your vacation. There’s no shame in getting some help, wherever you are!
5) Go with gratitude, not guilt.
As much as we’d like to leave our eating disorders at TSA with that unfinished water and shampoo bottle over 4 ounces, it doesn’t work like that. You can’t banish your eating disorder completely from trying to intervene in your trip, so if a trigger does get the best of you, don’t beat yourself up about it. Giving yourself grief or guilt over wasting a moment by giving too much thought to your body, or the calories, or whatever the situation is just wastes more moments. If you have a slip up, allow yourself to feel your feelings and then move on. Instead of scolding yourself for taking an opportunity for granted in a special place, focus on how grateful you feel for the next day, the next unexplored part, the next leg of your journey. Gratitude and forgiveness will get you much farther than dwelling on mistakes ever will.
Don’t forget to get your free on-the-go printable to bring with you to your next destination!
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