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

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

Share

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.

READ MORE:
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

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

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month  

General Election 2015: Politics is the messy art of compromise, unpopular as it may be

David Blunkett
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

Vote Tory and you’re voting for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer

Mark Steel
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'