How to handle summer if you're recovering from an eating disorder

It isn't easy. But bear these four points in mind...


Recovering from an eating disorder is never easy, but it can be particularly difficult in the summer. I usually start to feel a mixture of excitement and terror around the end of May, because I love the sun and all the fun stuff you can do while the weather’s nice, but I also know that my recovery could easily be jeopardized over the summer months. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on anorexia, bulimia and a combination of the two (known as EDNOS).

A) Fewer clothes are generally worn

 If you’re recovering from an eating disorder, you’ll probably be hyper-aware of how your body looks. I was incredibly anxious about my appearance while in the throes of my eating disorder, but this anxiety kicked into overdrive when I started recovering. I put this down to the fact that my goal had changed from lose-as-much-weight-as-possible to gain-some-weight-and-become-a-healthy-human, and therefore my body was moving away from the anorexic ideal. The idea of wearing more revealing, summery clothes may fill you with terror, and if this is the case, don’t force yourself into that two-piece or pair of tiny denim cut-offs until you’re ready. If you’re the only person on the beach swaddled in an over-sized t-shirt and a sarong, so be it. Uncover yourself at your own pace, when you feel ready to do so, and don’t be shamed into hiding your body again if you encounter point B).

B) People make unhelpful comments

If you DO manage to conquer negative thoughts about your recovering body and step out in shorts and a crop top or a bikini, you then often have to field the comments from other people. I’ve been approached by both complete strangers and friends of friends (if socialising in a group) and advised to "get a few burgers down me" because "looking like a 10-year-old boy isn’t attractive". Even comments from close friends or family members can be very hurtful. "You don’t even look that thin anymore" is a great way to make the ED beast rear its ugly head. There is no earthly reason why anyone should make remarks about your body, and comments like the ones mentioned above should either be completely ignored or met with a calm "that isn’t helpful to my recovery".

C) Women’s magazines talk nonsense

As soon as the sun comes out, magazines like to start talking about "how to get your best ever beach body" and "[insert celeb] shows off new bikini body". This kind of journalism feeds into existing body insecurities for all women, but can be particularly triggering for those recovering from eating disorders. However tempting reading about juice cleanses or ketogenic diet aids seems, leave the magazine on the shelf. Your body, whatever it looks like, will ALWAYS be a bikini body. You just put a bikini on it.


D) There are lots and lots of opportunities to revert back to bad eating habits

Most anorexics and bulimics receiving outpatient treatment will be saddled with a fixed meal plan that they have to stick to in order to gain the right amount of weight every week or to reduce the likelihood of a binge occurring. Summer activities like holidays, barbecues, parties, and festivals present numerous opportunities to deviate from your meal plan by starving and/or binging. Think about how you can plan round this, by taking your own food if necessary and avoiding alcohol if you know that it makes you more likely to overeat (and then panic). Thanks to my eating disorder, I haven’t been to a festival in nearly five years. If you don’t have the physical energy to get involved with some these activities, remember that this is one of the reasons why recovery is so important.

Britain has taken longer to recover from recession than at any time since the South Sea Bubble
Sombre TV moments filled a day when we were reminded of how war’s lessons are never learnt

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas