Ah summer! We love it. Warmer weather, fun activities. But the change of season can actually be a huge trigger for people battling eating disorders. Here are 5 things I struggle with in the summer, and how I try to cope with them.
1. Change of Routine
Routine. Routine. Routine. This is the biggest thing when it comes to eating disorders. Routine and control. We like control and we like structure. But in the summer, that changes. There are more events, outside activities, parties, gatherings, more spontaneous activities. I don't do well with spontaneous activities. This lack of routine and change of structure scares the shit out of me. I become more anxious and as the anxiety increases, the fear of food increases, and so does the habit of picking my body a part. Why? Because that is how I try and gain my control back. It makes me feel better. If I control my food and my body, I feel more in control of my life.
So what do I do? Face the fear of change. It's not the easiest thing. I would much rather stick to my safe habits than go out and do new things. But, I know that's not healthy. So, I try. That's all I can ask of myself. I go. I do it. I don't have to stay long. I don't have to do anything absurd, but the point is that I go and I try. Those small changes add up and eventually you'll be more comfortable making decisions that aren't in your comfort zone.
2. Beach Body Season
Well, I'm the fit friend. I'm expected to be in my bikini feeling super confident and not afraid of prancing around in my two-piece. Wrong. It's awful. I feel insecure. Are my thighs too big? Is my butt sagging? Are my love-handles sticking out. I bet everyone's looking at me and judging.
How do I handle the pressures of beach body season? I put on that damn bikini that I probably paid too much for and I rock it. Sure, I may feel insecure, but I try my best to focus on what I'm doing and who I'm with rather than looking down at my body. I remind myself that I am not my body. My body does not define me. And besides, the best thing you can wear is confidence. If you are confident in what you're wearing then that will shine a lot brighter than your insecurities.
Well, this is an obvious one. The barbecues, the hamburgers, the hot dogs, the ice cream, the treats, the drinks. All of a sudden I am bombarded with all these foods that I steered so far away from. What do I do? Give in and eat them all? Or bring my prepped "safe" foods and convince everyone that I'm just "healthy?"
This is a tough one. But what I've learned with food is that you need to eat intuitively. Don't bring your damn salad with no dressing in a plastic container. Go to the BBQ, scope out the food and decide what looks good to you, and then EAT IT! Don't stuff your face with the entire potluck. Listen to your body. Eat what you want. Stop when you're full, and then when you're feeling hungry again or you really want that second piece of dessert - have it! It may be scary, but you will learn that food isn't so bad. Your body will not drastically change overnight just because you ate a burger. Instead, you'll feel a sense of relief that you don't have to live your life in deprivation and guilt.
4. Last Summer's Clothes Don't Fit
You pull out your bin of summer shorts and tanks, you're so excited to put them on and then all of a sudden you notice how your thighs fill out your shorts so much more this year. Your cute tank is a little more snug than last. Shame and guilt sets in. I gained weight. Even though you know you gained healthy weight, the fact that those old clothes are tighter is a HUGE trigger. It makes you want to deprive yourself from food and go exercise like crazy. Throwing out clothes because they are too tight isn't what we are praised for. We are praised for throwing out clothes because they are too loose. Huge mental battle here. Society is telling us one thing, while we know deep down that our small clothes are too small and that's okay. Small is just small. It means nothing
5. Everyone's On A Diet and I Don't Care
This kind of goes along with "beach body season", but without the pressures we put on ourselves to look a certain way, we are bombarded with messages from other people. Every second person is talking about their diet or fitness routine to get in shape for summer. And you couldn't be bothered with it. Listening to other people talk about their food restrictions and habits does nothing but trigger. So how do you deal? Listen to your friends talk about their diets. Don't try and lecture them and tell them that cutting out carbs is wrong, or that their diet isn't sustainable anyways. Simply listen. Nod. And don't let it affect you. You have learned so much from your past experience with food that limiting foods is not the answer. So be the bigger person and stay true to what you know. If the pressure becomes too much, then nicely ask your friends or family to stop talking about their diet because it's affecting you in a negative way. You don't have to be rude about it, but if it's not adding value or positivity to your life, then you have no reason to listen to it.
I hope you relate to all or at least some of these summer ED triggers and I hope that my perspective can help you deal with them this season. Remember, each day is a journey. Take it one day at a time to become stronger and healthier. Focus on you, your goals, and YOUR health.
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