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A general rule of thumb: no one should end the fall season without having a PSL (pumpkin spice latte) from Starbucks or coffee place of your choice because TBH there’s probably better PSL’s out there. Anyways, happy fall! I’m incredibly #basic in the sense that fall is absolutely my favourite season. Again, I love PSL’s, boots, sweaters, the changing leaves, the weather.
With all the excitement that fall holds, it also holds many changes.
Going back to school, possibly leaving home, going to a different school, changing jobs, or learning to adjust with kids not in the house. Eating disorder behaviours can often be triggered during these times, so it can be a good season to explore new strategies for your recovery.
In this blog, I thought it would be a good place to discuss recovery tips for this transitional time of year.
Tips for Eating Disorder Recovery during Fall Transitions
1. Make a list of “red/yellow light” signs and “green light” signs with your therapist or dietitian.
I do this with many of my clients who are transitioning from high school to college since it will be the first time they’re more consistently away from home.
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“Red light” or “yellow light” signs are behaviours the indicate the eating disorder voice/urges might be getting a bit stronger. For example, skipping meals/snacks, prioritizing exercise over other things, or a decrease in variety of foods.
“Green light” signs are indicative that you’re engaging in behaviours to promote recovery. Like, seeing your therapist and dietitian weekly, challenging fear foods, and eating regularly throughout the day (or following your meal plan if you have one!).
If you feel comfortable, it might be a good idea to share this list with other members on your support team, like parents, significant others, perhaps a roommate or close friend.
2. Then, make a list of what happens when you notice you’re struggling.
If you notice you’re regularly engaging in eating disorder behaviours (aka “red” or “yellow light” signs), what happens next? Do you go to a support group either in person, on the college campus or virtually? Do you spend the weekend with individuals who support you in recovery and can help you take a breath? Do you participate in meal support with your RD?
Definitely discuss these steps with your treatment team. It’s a good idea to have a plan of action ahead of time so you’re not feeling overwhelmed about what to do next.
Of course, these “plans” might not be always executed just as expected, and there may need to be adjustments and that’s okay. Your team will support you in getting through it.
3. Remind yourself: There’s nothing wrong with increased support.
Recovery is not linear and is 100% okay if behaviours increase during times of change. It doesn’t make you any less motivated or “successful” in recovery.
In times of slip-ups and relapses, I believe you learn more about yourself and the eating disorder and can use that information to get better. Knowing when you need to ask for help, attend support groups, add on additional therapy/nutrition appointments if you’re able can be a sign of strength in recovery.
4. Find a new routine.
Think about how you might be able to find a bit of normalization in the new normal. This might help you a bit to get adjusted to the new space and routine.
What would this look like? Here are some ideas:
- Having a consistent sleep schedule
- Eating meals around the same time
- Weekly calls with loved ones
- Having a meal with a friend each week
- Making time for yourself each week
If you have questions about eating disorder recovery, you can submit them to Alex or one of the other members of our Ask an Expert panel. If you live in Maryland, you can learn more about working with Alex on her site.
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