Traveling With an Eating Disorder

2:02 PM

I love the holidays just as much as the next person, and maybe more :). It's so magical and warm and I love being with family. However, when you have an eating disorder, it definitely throws a tough element into the mix. As much as I hate to admit it, this time of year is also historically tough for me. The holidays mean lots of triggering situations, and I've had a lot of failures in the past. One of the hardest things for someone recovering from an eating disorder is a change in routine. When I'm at my own home and in control of the grocery list and schedule, my routine works great. I eat small, healthy meals throughout the day, never getting too hungry or too full. I shoot for a specific calorie range and I hit pretty close to it every day. This way I'm able to stay even keeled, which is the most important thing for me in my recovery.

But when I'm taken out of my element, everything gets harder. I've had opportunities over the past year to put my recovery to the test, and as sad as it is to say, vacations can cause a lot of anxiety. Next week we will be going to Dallas to visit my family, and on Christmas, we will be with Trevor's family in Las Vegas. I'm SO excited for both of these trips, but I'm also already planning ahead (and have been for weeks) as to how I will handle the days and eating situations.

I remember being very young and not having eating be a stressful situation for me, and I'm not sure what changed between then and now, but it takes me a lot of mental energy to stay on track when presented with different circumstances. I don't know how many people this little blog reaches that may be struggling similarly with anxiety of any kind, food related or otherwise, but I do know there are at least a handful, so I thought I'd share the things I'm doing now to prepare and keep myself ahead of the demons.

1. Addiction Recovery Class. I've been going back to my group so that my recovery is fresh in my mind during this tricky time of year. The more on top of it I stay, the more likely I am to keep on track.

2. Plan for how I will handle mealtimes. My sister is amazing and already has a menu all planned out for the week. This makes it easy for me to plan how I will handle the situations. It sounds like no fun maybe to someone who can eat normally, but keeping structure in my meal plan is a life saver!

3. Bring my own food. Yes- I am the crazy sister who comes prepared with her stash of apples and pistachios. Luckily my family loves me and doesn't get judgey about my regimented eating habits. I have a good arsenal of meals and snacks that I know work well for me, and I stick to those most of the time while varying within my range of comfort at family meals. You'll never catch me without emergency snacks in my bag, and they've saved me from failure time and time again.

4. Keep up with my normal exercise routine. Starting out my day with endorphins and a good sweat is one of the most anxiety reducing activities I can do. Thankfully we will be in Texas and Las Vegas, so a good run outside every morning will be easy to fit in.

5. Give my support system a heads up. My family knows that my recovery is something that I'm still always working at, and that my mental power is still being strengthened all the time. My mom has already ensured me that we will do lots of things that don't all revolve around sitting around eating meals and pigging out all night long. I'm taking my loom so I can weave up a storm. We will have game nights. We will play with the kids. It will be ok. It's not Thanksgiving meal for a whole 5 days.

6. Be realistic. I can eat a roll at Thanksgiving dinner. And I will be ok. Did you know that? I know it when I write it on paper. And I'll be sure to let you know how delicious it is instead of how guilty I feel about it. I can eat pie too. And it's ok if it's a sliver piece. Nobody will force me to eat a full huge piece of pie because of all its nutritional benefits :).

7. Face my challenges with a clear head. I know I can do this holiday season. God knows I can do this holiday season. He will help me, and I will be just fine. In fact, it will be fabulous. I know what it feels like when the negative thoughts start to take over, and I now know how to hit reset and get back to a good place.

You guys, I'm excited. Enjoy your holidays. I know I will, and I'm so thankful for the support and love I feel from all of you on my journey to health. I've accepted that my eating disorder is something that I'll have to stay on top of forever, and I'm ok with that! Good health is so worth the effort, and in all reality, nobody else cares if I eat an identical meal to theirs. Leftovers are OK. Ordering a salad is OK. And you know what else is OK? Pie. Pie is ok.

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  1. You are my hero. Did you know that?

  2. You are amazing. I would love to spend a day with you just to see a day in your shoes.

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  4. Your blog is big and there is a lot of good information! Thanks