Coping With Recovery During Vacations
This is such a tough one for me. I consider myself in strong recovery and yet I will go on a road trip with a friend or on vacation with family and all hell will break loose. I consider myself a very organized person and I always stick to my calendar. That being said, it makes flexible eating and vacations pretty challenging for me, as sometimes things can come up on vacations and we have to adapt and be okay with that change. I have learned to accept imperfection, while still fueling myself appropriately, no matter where I am (airport, friend’s house, my apartment, train, etc.).
Vacations are tricky because food schedules and mealtimes could change due to a number of factors that are most likely out of our control. This often creates an intense feeling of anxiety and frustration. Eating disorder thoughts may even swoop into the game and try to take control.
“This is the moment where you tell your eating disorder no! You are more powerful than those vicious voices trying to take over your thoughts.”
I have created a list of tips for traveling with an eating disorder, as this can be an extra challenge that not everyone may understand and help out with. I want to acknowledge that we are all unique humans, and that things that work for me may not work for you, and that’s more than okay!
Tip #1: Pack plenty of food:
I consider myself the soccer mom who has EVERYTHING in her purse. Snacks, bandaids, lotion, hand sanitizer, a stress ball, etc. I amplify this part of myself when I go on vacation so whenever I am hungry I will have access to food. This sometimes means buying food at a hotel or a local supermarket and carrying food around with my throughout the day in case I get hungry and I am unable to go buy food.
Tip #2: Advocate for yourself:
I cannot stress this more. I also acknowledge how difficult this can be, especially in the moment. Advocating for yourself may look like telling whoever you are with (friends, family, etc.) that you are hungry and need something to eat. This could also look like you walking to a nearby restaurant (if you are able to incorporate movement into your daily life) to grab food if no one else is hungry but you are (which is SO okay, everyone gets hungry at different times throughout the day).
Tip #3: Reach out for help:
You have a support system, use them. It’s as simple as that sometimes. People love you in this world and want to help you. Whether this looks like a family member, a friend, or a therapist, there are people rooting for you and ready to help you even when it doesn’t feel like it. Asking for help can sometimes be the bravest (and sometimes scariest) thing that you do but it is important and can have positive effects on your relationships and your recovery.
Tip #4: Believe in yourself:
You are always more powerful than you think, and I do not say this lightly. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you will fuel your body and enjoy food today. The act of looking at yourself and saying an affirmation is so special and it can make all the difference.
“If believing in yourself is too much, remember that I believe in you and I believe that you can provide your body with food, love, and respect today and every day.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MEGAN SAMUELS
Megan Samuels is a 21-year-old female (she/her/hers pronouns) at the University of Maryland studying Psychology with hopes of becoming a therapist. She is passionate about sexual assault survivors' rights, eating disorder recovery, and social justice. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, art, and reading. You can follow her on Instagram @megan.e.samuels.