How to Maintain Eating Disorder Recovery While Travelling

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Travelling , be it a short city break, a long backpacking holiday and everything in between, can throw up a lot of challenges for people dealing with and recovering from an eating disorder.

I am reasonably well travelled having been to various parts of the world alone, with friends, with my boyfriend and with family, and I’ve learnt a lot about how to manage recovery in different circumstances. I thought I would share a few of them here.

Make a plan before you go

Have some ideas in place of what eating is going to look like wherever it is you‘re going, whether it’s just overnight or for a few weeks. Decide before you go what feels reasonable and achievable, and have back up plans in place just in case you can’t do exactly as you’d expected to.

Talk to people

Share some of the thoughts and feelings you’re having about it with the people you are going with, both before and during your time away. This will help people set expectations and have the best idea of how to support you.

Plan activities

Share some of the thoughts and feelings you’re having about it with the people you are going with, both before and during your time away. This will help people set expectations and have the best idea of how to support you.

Take distractions

It’s likely that some meal times are going to be more difficult than others. Take things to keep you busy and keep your mind off it like an iPad, playing cards or books. Being distracted after meals can help until the guilt and anxiety passes.

Keep a routine

Depending on where you are in your recovery journey, you might have different levels of flexibility. If you’re early on in the process it might be necessary to still be sticking closely to a meal plan with regards to timings and quantities. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing this if it keeps you on track.

Take food away with you 

It might feel too scary to have different foods scheduled in for the whole time you’re away. There’s nothing wrong with taking some back ups away with you if that makes things easier and less anxiety provoking.

Take comfy clothes

If you’re going away, especially for a summer holiday, it’s likely you’ll be wearing some different clothes to the comfies you hang around at home in. It might be worth packing some loose/cosy clothes for bad body image days or days when you know you’re likely to feel more uncomfortable (around bigger meals for example).

Don’t body check

The temptation to body check when away from usual structure and routine is likely to massively increase – it’s really important not to act on those urges because that will just cause you to fixate on it even more. Try to focus elsewhere and spend time thinking about things other than your body.

Focus on making memories

Remember, when you look back on times away, you’re not going to remember the things you did or didn’t eat long term. You’ll be thinking about the experiences you had and people you spent time with. Food can be a great central focus to make memories around, but it’s not the most important thing, even when it feels like it is. 

I hope some of these will be helpful and that you get to enjoy some time away without your eating disorder stealing any of it from you. You’ve got this!

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