By Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C
With swimsuits, less clothing, and people running around proclaiming the so-called 'benefits' of their ‘low carb’ diets, the summer can be a really difficult time for those in eating disorder recovery.
For someone who is in the midst of struggling with an eating disorder, often there are not a lot of quiet mental moments. However, it becomes even harder when this mental noise about weight and food is endorsed strongly by the culture.
The following are a few quick tips for surviving the summer in eating disorder recovery.
1.Make an effort to build in structure.
I work with people of all ages in recovery from eating disorders, however this tip is especially important for students or those for whom the summer brings about a change in their schedule.
Anxiety and eating disorders thrive in environments that lack structure.
So, it’s really important to build in some kind of helpful routine (even if for instance, your work schedule is consistent over the summer).
When I talk about structure, it’s really looking at things that you can add in-so whether you are off school for the summer and look at volunteering opportunities-or are simply looking at adding in 10 minutes of meditation a few times a week, there are lots of options.
If you are meeting with a therapist and dietitian, it’s important to try to maintain some consistency with appointments (although understandably travel, camp, etc can get in the way), making sure that you are checking in with your support system and treatment team is important.
If you don't have a therapist, eating disorder dietitian, or recovery coach-consider reaching out for more support.
Reaching out for help when you are struggling can feel anxiety-provoking, but ultimately it is so brave.
2.Counter-condition yourself to this idea of a ‘summer body.’
The idea of a ‘summer body’ was created so that the diet industry could make you feel insecure and thus more likely to spend a lot of money on their products.
The reality is that your body exists to keep you alive (and not to be some kind of object or determinant of your worth)-and does so in all seasons.
Summer body=whatever body you have right now (ditto for ‘swimsuit body’).
Unfollow anyone who is promoting a ‘bikini body diet’ or other unhealthy things, and add in people on social media of diverse body sizes and those who are promoting more positive messages.
It’s also important to make sure that you have comfortable summer clothing that fits your current body. It can be helpful to go shopping with a friend who is supportive of your recovery who can grab things in a variety of sizes for you to try on.
3.Make a summer bucket list that has nothing to do with dieting or attempts to try to change your body.
Eating disorders shrink people’s lives and through recovery your whole world opens up.
Your eating disorder will want you to focus on your body and food this summer, but what would you actually like to spend your time doing?
Make a list of things that you’d love to do this summer-where you can practice being in the moment, which will help to shift focus from your body and food to the things that are truly meaningful.
They don’t have to be super big things either-even focusing on the simple pleasures that your eating disorder has caused you to shift focus from, can be helpful.
Examples of things that you could put on your summer bucket list:
The Bottom Line
When I was struggling with an eating disorder, I had fleeting moments of a false sense of ‘happiness’ and a sense of ‘comfort’ but the majority of the time I was depressed and miserable.
I thought about food and my body 80 percent of the time. I had so many rules. I felt totally trapped. It was exhausting.
I definitely don’t take the ability that I have now to laugh with friends over brunch without anxiety, the mental energy, and the freedom from the constant thoughts, for granted.
Ultimately, recovery enables you to have the brain space to focus on things that are far more meaningful and important.
This summer and beyond, my hope for you is that in each new moment you try to do the next best recovery action.
It will be 100 percent worth it when you are finally free from this.
Looking for help?
Book your free 15 min consultation.
The Eating Disorder Center is a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center founded by Jennifer Rollin. We specialize in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, OSFED, and body image issues. We provide eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Silver Spring, Germantown, and Washington D.C. We also offer eating disorder therapy virtually throughout California serving those in cities including Palo Alto, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, San Jose, and Beverly Hills. We provide eating disorder recovery coaching via Zoom to people worldwide. Connect with us through our website at www.theeatingdisordercenter.com
The Eating Disorder Center
We are a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center in Rockville, Maryland.