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Challenging Disordered Eating in the Summer Months

No doubt holidays and new seasons can be hard when you’re in recovery for an eating disorder or disordered eating. Any transitional time or opportunity to see people you may be seen haven’t in a while can. Let’s not forget we’re also still in a pandemic and a social justice movement, and life can seem pretty chaotic. So I see you. If you’re continuing to work against your ED or disordered thoughts, I see you. It’s no easy feat, but it’s so, so worth it.

So let’s jump back to holidays and the summer solstice we entered about a week ago. So far we’ve had a few holidays already and depending on how you’ve celebrated you may have found opportunities to practice food freedom. New seasons in general also allow us that chance. Here are some ideas that have come up in client sessions that hopefully may be helpful for you as well:

  • Make a list of seasonal foods you’ve struggled with in the past and really challenge yourself to have them this year.

  • Some ideas heard so far this year include: fresh picked berries, pies, grilled items, and ice cream. FYI it can feel easier to have something at home first in a comfortable scenario such as ice cream before you try to go to an ice cream stand. Give it a try - lateral changes also count as challenges and help to fight against the ED!

  • Allow yourself to eat foods at parties/special occasions without thinking of or acting on compensating before or after, eating the “healthier” items first (only), and trying things you used to really enjoy.

  • Allow yourself to have a plate made for you by a party host if that is how the meal experience is going. Let someone else cut a slice of cake for you or portion the dinner on a plate. This is a great way to utilize your hunger and fullness cues and eat according to what your body needs. If the portion was not enough, give yourself unconditional permission for another helping. If you’ve reached comfortable satiety, do not feel bad for leaving some portion of food on the plate.

Remember, it’s also okay to set boundaries if you’re going to be seeing folks you haven't seen in a while or just seeing larger numbers of people at events than in recent months. You can ask not to talk about food or body with those who you feel comfortable with, or identify support persons for you who will also be at the event that you can choose to eat with.

Most of all summer and holidays/special occasions are meant to be fun! Try to take stock of the mental space you used to hold or may still be holding for food and body concerns, and try to redirect that into enjoying the moment and truly connecting with others.

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