So you’re in recovery from your eating disorder – amazing! And you’re keen to become more engaged in everyday life activities – go you! Does everything just fall into place and feel “normal???”
Well, not exactly. But it is achievable and is an essential part of the recovery process.
👋Hi, my name is Gemma, and I am one of the EDV Telehealth Nurses and Recovery Ambassadors.
I know all too well from both my professional and lived experience that juggling everyday life whilst in recovery can be a challenge. In this newsletter, I’ll share my tips on navigating this process.
We know recovery can be tough. It can feel like a full-time job and be a little messy at times with lots of highs and lows. It is easy to feel frustrated if things don’t happen as easily as we’d hope. It is important to remember that we don’t enter recovery to stay in “recovery mode” forever. For most people, meal plans, appointments etc., are incredibly supportive to facilitate recovery. Sometimes these supportive structures stick around for a while to keep us on track – but over time in recovery, we work towards these things taking up less space and life activities taking up more!
Being in recovery doesn’t mean we can’t engage in life activities. Birthdays, holidays, celebrations, social eating, friends and family catch ups, working, studying – whilst it may need to be put on hold during some parts of recovery – reintegrating back into daily life is important. Doing this can actually help us build motivation – reminding us of why we are fighting for recovery and in turn, keeping us on the path of recovery.
So, how do we navigate these experiences whilst continuing to foster our recovery? Depending on where you are at in your recovery journey, different approaches will be effective for different experiences.
🍝 Eating socially
At the early stages of recovery, planning can be helpful; e.g., discussing the menu with your dietician to help you decide what you’ll order to meet the meal plan. As we progress with recovery, being able to eat spontaneously and intuitively is a great skill to develop – always have a discussion with your treatment team about the right timing for this. If you struggle eating around others, perhaps try some gradual exposure – e.g., starting with people you feel comfortable with, or trialing having a coffee before trying meals with others.
💬 Catching up with family and friends
It’s ok to admit that being more social can feel daunting! The ED might make you fear what people will say or think if you perceive your body has changed. I invite you to be curious with that thought – would you think of a friend/family member differently if their body had changed? Or would you simply be happy to see them?
You may also not be sure how much you are willing to share about what you are experiencing. Have a think about what feels ok to talk about and what you prefer to keep private – this is entirely up to you – you don’t owe anyone an explanation if it doesn’t feel safe.
📲 Juggling work and study
Work and study can be great motivators in recovery. However, committing to work/study and recovery can feel like a juggling act. Recovery is always the no.1 priority. Without our health, we cannot engage in these activities to our best potential. Have a chat with your treatment team about how you can ensure continuity with your appointments (telehealth can sometimes be a good option to make appointments more accessible). Taking breaks for meals and snacks is essential – if it isn’t possible, discuss with your dietician a plan for those days on how you can bolster your meal plan when you’re not working. If you feel comfortable, it might be helpful discussing these things with your manager or study facilitators.
🎉Coping with festive occasions
It’s understandable that festivities can be both exciting but also really overwhelming. The food, the social aspect – there’s a lot going on! Try focusing on what is important to you about the celebration and set that as your intention – e.g., do you value spending time with loved ones? Again, planning can be helpful. Dedicating time for self-care and having a support person you can reach out to if you’re feeling overwhelmed can all be helpful too.
🛫Eating different foods while travelling
Food is often an integral aspect of travel – but not having our familiar foods can be overwhelming. Like social eating, initially in recovery, planning can be helpful – and sharing the plan with who you are travelling with can also facilitate accountability and support. As you progress in recovery – remind yourself how special it is to try new foods on your travels! This episode of EDV’s podcast about travelling in recovery can also help.
🚫Navigating Diet Culture Conversations
As for those pesky diet culture-fueled conversations, unfortunately this is at times inevitable. At a later point in your recovery, you might feel empowered to politely suggest an alternative way of thinking – but for the most part, sometimes the best thing we can do is create an alternative conversation.
Recovery can be tough, but so are you! Remember that each step you are taking now is getting you a step closer to your freedom from the ED – the hard work you are doing is ABSOLUTELY worth it!