Summer time is here with warmer days and longer evenings. COVID restrictions are gradually being reviewed and lifted which is very welcome but can bring some challenges if you are recovering from an eating disorder.
Despite the COVID lockdown restrictions over the past 15 months and the significant changes we have all experienced in our lives, many people have continued to recover from eating disorders and to be supported by family and loved ones. The periods of lockdowns have however made it less easy to move further with some aspects of recovery such as being able to eat out in restaurants or in the homes of family and friends. Now that outdoor dining has resumed and we can again socialise with family and friends, this can seem daunting and often dreaded. As you begin to feel ready to think about dining out here are some tips to help you take the first steps
- Plan outings ahead: where you will go, with whom and when. It may be easier to start with a familiar place where you have eaten in the past.
- When going to a restaurant, review the menu beforehand online and decide what you will order before arriving at the restaurant.
- Plan ahead with your support systems. Remind yourself of what coping skills and strategies you will use.
- Have someone you trust accompany you
- Know that there is no “right way ” to eat at restaurants.
- Before and after your meal out, do what you can to keep the rest of the day as typical as possible.
- Be gentle and kind with yourself when things don’t exactly as planned. Remember you are not alone as the reality is that no-one gets it right or exactly the way they want. It is important to aim for progress and not perfection. Even thinking about taking the first steps to planning a meal out is progress in itself.
When eating out with a child with an eating disorder
- Plan outings ahead. Look up menu before going to the restaurant and decide what you will order for your child before you arrive
- Role model healthy eating behaviours
- Agree what coping skills your child can use in the restaurant
- Support your child to remain at the table during the meal and accompany them to the toilet
- Discuss enjoyable topics during the meal