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  • Writer's pictureBreanna Mills R.D.

Travel Tips for Eating Disorder Recovery

Author: Breanna Mills R.D.

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Many people love to travel and travelling may be something that the eating disorder has taken away from you or made a lot more challenging. Travelling in recovery is do-able, although may bring up some challenges. Here are some tips to help you travel, while still taking recovery actions.

Plan Ahead

Whether you are taking a long flight or a quick road trip, one of the most important things is planning ahead. Although you may not be able to plan for every possible scenario, we can plan ahead as much as possible to ensure that travelling is as easy as it can be. It may be helpful to figure out where you will be getting food from. Will you bring your own? Eat at an airport? Stop on the way? Personally, I think it is always helpful to pack some of your own things, just in case. Travelling can come with a lot of uncertainty and changes that you didn’t account for. Even if you plan to eat somewhere else, it is always good to have a few options with you in case that isn’t possible.

It is also important to think about how food is going to work on your trip. Do you have your own kitchen and need to get groceries? Will you be eating at restaurants most of the time? Having a general idea of where food is going to come from can help you be strategic about how you need to move forward with that. You may be practicing going with the flow and being flexible, or you may be practicing having a solid structured plan to ensure that you get enough. Whatever you are working on, having some sort of plan can be essential.

Bring More Than You Think You Need

If you are packing food, I think it is always helpful to bring more than you think you will need. Your hunger or needs could be different that day and you want to be prepared and be able to honour that. Bringing non-perishable items can be helpful so that they don’t go to waste if you don’t end up needing them.

Account for Obstacles

I’m sure we have all had the experience where your travel day or schedule on your trip didn’t go exactly as planned. It can be helpful to account for those obstacles in your planning. Only have a short layover in an airport? It might not be helpful to rely on being able to get food at that time and may be more strategic to bring something, get something at a previous airport, etc. Going to be away from the place that you are staying for a long period of time? It may be helpful to bring snacks with you in case there is traffic, delays, etc. It’s not that we are assuming that the worst is going to happen and rather thinking about how we could choose recovery and relieve mental stress if it does happen.

Coping Skills

Travelling can be so much fun and it can also be stressful, even if you aren’t struggling with an eating disorder and working on recovery. How will you work through challenges and stressful situations that come up? It can also be helpful to think about who you can go to when you need support during your trip and to have a conversation with that person ahead of time around what that could look like, so that they can best support you.

Think of Ways the ED Could Interfere

Of course, we don’t want to go into a trip anticipating the ED is going to derail you. It can be strategic to think of ways the ED could interfere with your travel plans and come up with an idea ahead of time for how you can work through that. Travelling can break up our usual routine and sometimes this can leave room for the ED to come in. Are you going to be doing more/less activity than normal? Will you be eating differently than you do at home? Will you be wearing different clothing than usual? These are just some examples of scenarios that may be different than what you are used to in your regular environment.

It's Okay if it Looks Different Than Usual

Your schedule, eating and routine is likely going to be different, and this is okay! You might be eating at different times than normal, may have less or more of different foods than usual or you might be hungrier than normal or feel more full. All these things are okay! The most important part if the ED gets in the way, is to do the next best thing. Don’t feel that it is strategic to have a really challenging meal that day? You could have something that is still challenging but feels a bit more manageable that day. It is okay if recovery looks a bit different. You can still make recovery choices that serve you instead of the ED while travelling.

These are just some examples of tips that could make travelling easier while in recovery for an eating disorder. Talking with your team and/or supports about how to navigate travelling is always a helpful strategy. Bon Voyage!


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