By Megan Samuels, MSW, LMSW, Outreach Coordinator
One thing that can be challenging for people struggling with food and body image can be grocery shopping. As grocery shopping is something that most of us can’t avoid, there are some ways to make it easier.
1. Going at non-peak times
For people who may get anxious about being around a lot of other people, one thing that can help is going grocery shopping when you wouldn't expect a lot of other people to be going grocery shopping. For example, weekday mornings may be an ideal time to go grocery shopping as most people would be at work/school. I have also found grocery stores less crowded on weekend mornings compared to weekend afternoons and evenings.
With not as many people at the grocery store, it can be easier to search for the items that support your lifestyle and your recovery. Additionally, there will likely be more access to the people who work there if you have questions or are having trouble finding a product.
Going at non-peak times can also alleviate the pressure of finding a parking space, if you drive to the grocery store.
2. Having a list prepared
One thing that can take some of the pressure off of grocery shopping is creating a list of foods, drinks, etc. that you are looking to buy. Here are some steps to help create a list.
For this list, you can add the items you are looking to get to the “Notes” app on your phone or hand write the items on a piece of paper.
*Please note that this tip can vary depending on where you are in your recovery journey. Work with your therapist, dietitian, and/or coach to determine if this tip is appropriate.
3. Be as regulated as possible
Grocery shopping can be a stressful task for people with eating disorders. Another tip to go grocery shopping is to be as prepared as possible. This may include eating a snack or a meal beforehand and drinking plenty of water so you are not hungry or thirsty while you are grocery shopping. You can even bring a water bottle or a snack if needed.
Also paying attention to your energy level is important. Are you feeling tired? Do you need to take a nap before grocery shopping?
Another thing that may be helpful is going grocery shopping with a friend or a loved one. This can provide some co-regulation and general support if you find yourself struggling to get some of the items on your list because of diet culture or other societal/individual pressures.
Other ideas can include engaging in some mindfulness before entering the grocery store. This can look like doing some deep breathing or a quick meditation.
In conclusion, there are things that we can do to make going to the grocery store a little easier. If this is something that you struggle with, this could be a great conversation to have with your treatment team.
Note: Aside from people struggling with food and body, some people who are neurodivergent or who struggle with sensory input may also benefit from the tips in this blog post.
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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 provide eating disorder therapy in Arlington, Virginia and virtually throughout Virginia. Additionally, we offer eating disorder therapy virtually in New York (NYC), Florida, and California. 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.