Question: “What advice do you have for those who are in eating disorder recovery–possibly on a recovery meal plan–and find themselves at home during the COVID-19 pandemic with limited access to groceries and the support channels they are used to?”
Times are crazy right now. Most of us have noticed the COVID-19 global pandemic is taking a toll on our mental health. I’m thankful I can still see my clients virtually, especially because these times can be particularly difficult for those who are in recovery from an eating disorder.
Eating is going to look different than it does outside of a global pandemic. Most of us have less access to food. Some of us have tighter food budgets. We are outside of our normal routines and schedules.
I hope this article is helpful in pointing you in a direction to find more normalcy and routine with eating disorder recovery and your meal plan during COVID-19.
Below are some tips that hopefully will help support those of you in eating disorder recovery who may be finding it difficult to stick with your recovery meal plan.
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1. Reframe your idea of “normal eating”
What you’re used to eating might look different right now, and that’s okay. Give yourself permission to eat less fresh foods, to eat more snack foods, and to be flexible at the grocery store if they don’t have the options you originally planned for. Food exists to fuel your body and also for enjoyment. And whether it’s fresh or frozen, it will do just that!
2. Talk to your dietitian about modifying your meal plan.
You might need permission from your dietitian to switch things up. I’d recommend talking to them in a session about what you’ve noticed has been different about your eating throughout the day. Your RD will be able to provide feedback and supply some suggestions for you! The main thing you want to remember is modifying the meal plan does not equal permission to restrict. Even if you’re getting up later or not as hungry, you still need to eat enough to fuel your body.
3. Set up a schedule as best you can.
Something that can be particularly helpful is finding some sense of normalcy throughout the day. It might be a good idea to get on a regular sleep schedule, at least Monday through Friday like you do on a typical work or school day. You don’t necessarily have to get up as early as you do for work or school; just try to wake up and go to bed around the same time each day. Many of my clients also set reminders or alarms for meal and snack times.
4. Join an online support group.
There are awesome free resources available! Many treatment centers run an online group that is open to the public. You will find a list of some online support groups that are available here.
5. Plan times to check in with loved ones.
Feeling connected right now is essential. Many of us have lost that face-to-face human connection. Like I said earlier, I am so thankful for technology and the ability it allows us to stay in touch with friends and family. See if you can schedule a lunch or dinner date with friends or family. at least 1 day a week.
6. Show yourself compassion.
This is key for all of us at this time! Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you’re feeling and know that none of it is right or wrong. We are all navigating this stressful pandemic together.
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