5 Tips for Navigating Summer in Eating Disorder Recovery
Summer is in full swing. It’s a time for picnics, cookouts, and barbecues, and while these events are enjoyable for many, they can also bring added stress and anxiety for those struggling with eating disorders. Warm-weather celebrations often exacerbate worries about food and body, making recovery challenging and complex. But it’s not impossible.
With a commitment to yourself and continued healing, you can maintain eating disorder recovery and participate in this season’s activities. Here are some tips for surviving summer with an eating disorder.
5 Tips for Those Recovering from Eating Disorders This Summer
Reject the Idea of a “Summer Body”
Your eating disorder would love for you to believe diet culture’s tired lies about a “summer body” or “beach body.” In these body-shaming messages it may find “proof” that diets and exercise are the key to getting “bikini-ready,” an unfortunate attitude often normalized in our culture.
Here is where it may be helpful to repeat: Every body is a beach body. Every body is appropriate for the beach. This includes yours, here in “beach season” and otherwise.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
Is the anxiety of wearing a swimsuit or other warm-weather clothing too much? Then don’t! There’s no need to impose a dress code on yourself every time you step out the door. If you’re uncomfortable in shorts or a tank top at this point in your recovery, opt for a favorite t-shirt or lightweight pants instead.
Prioritize your physical comfort. Do your clothes let you breathe without feeling constricted? Can you move freely without engaging in body checking? How do the fabrics feel against your skin? Focus on these markers of comfort rather than the number on the tag or your reflection in the mirror.
Don’t allow summer plans to interrupt your meal plan. Maintain your meal- and snack time structure wherever you are—at home or at a campsite or lake, when lounging around or out exploring nature.
If you’re worried about forgetting to eat outside of home—whether you are truly apt to forget or your eating disorder tries to use that as a convenient excuse—pack the necessary food ahead of time. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a bag of trail mix, for example, are easy options to stash in your bag on summer days out.
Lean on Support
Rely on a trusted family member or friend to help support you before, during, and after eating or other stressful activities. They can be your allies in distracting and redirecting your attention away from distorted thoughts. They can breathe with you. They can engage in conversation unrelated to food and body. What are they listening to lately? What’s new on Netflix?
Schedule Activities That Don’t Involve Food
Though often marked by food-centric events, summer is about more than burgers on the grill. It is an opportunity to relax, enjoy, and embrace the season for what it offers you. What besides food can you focus on? What ways can you practice self-care and enjoy non-food related activities? Make time for these.
While summer can bring additional challenges for individuals with eating disorders, it is important to remember that recovery is possible and that you can still actively participate in and enjoy the season without compromising your well-being. By developing effective coping strategies and leaning on support, you can navigate through the potential hurdles, nurture a positive relationship with yourself and food, and fully embrace the opportunities for growth and joy that summer offers.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder this summer, please reach out for help. Get started with The Emily Program by completing our online form or calling 1-888-364-5977.