Too Busy to Eat? 3 Ways to Avoid an Eating Disorder Relapse
I began a new job a couple months ago. It’s the first time in almost five years that I’ve worked full time. I’m thrilled to finally be in a place in my recovery where I can work again, but, if I’m being honest, I’m also a little nervous.
Change is almost always difficult, even if it’s a good thing.
When I first sought treatment for my eating disorder, I had absolutely no balance in my life. I used my job as an excuse to not take care of my body’s nutritional needs. I worked in a prominent, high-pressure job, so “I didn’t have time” to eat lunch. I worked late, so “I didn’t have time” to eat dinner. If I kept busy, I didn’t have to eat. If I kept busy, I didn’t have to feel, either.
Thankfully, after several rounds of treatment at Eating Recovery Center, Washington, I am solidly in recovery. I now know that “not having time” is not an excuse. If I don’t have time to eat, I make a change. What I don’t do anymore is make excuses.
I’m determined to stay in recovery, so I knew I needed to figure out ways to avoid excuses. I’ve found the following tips helpful to prevent relapse while I’m busy in my life:
Tip 1: Prepare foods ahead of time
Planning and preparing meals ahead of time has been immensely helpful in both ensuring that I’m giving my body what it needs and reducing the stress of having to plan three meals every single day. I have my go-to meals, but I am more than willing to branch out. I like to plan and prepare meals on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes that means getting out the crockpot and pressure cooker, and sometimes it means divvying up the pre-prepared food I picked up at the grocery store. I also keep a few frozen meals on hand that I can pop in the microwave.
Tip 2: Practice good sleep hygiene
I have insomnia during certain times of the year, which interferes with nearly every aspect of my life. I’ve implemented something that has made a big difference in my sleep: I gave myself an electronics curfew. At 9:00 p.m. every night, an alarm buzzes and I know it’s time to unplug.
Tip 3: Reach out to others
If I’m struggling, I don’t keep it to myself anymore. I let my partner or a friend know that I need help and can use some extra accountability. I’ll send pictures of my food, or let them know what I ate. And I’ll let them know if I didn’t eat and what I’m going to do differently. Believe it or not, it’s become pretty natural to just let people know how I’m doing, and it feels great.
On my third day of my new job, I realized the 30 minutes allotted for lunch was not going to work out for me long term, so I reached out and requested an accommodation that will allow a 60-minute lunch break. I felt really vulnerable making the request, but I know it’s what I needed to do because my old excuse, “I don’t have time,” just doesn’t work for me anymore.
Megan Cuilla is a writer living in Spokane, WA, with their husband and pet rats. Megan’s eating-disorder recovery journey began at Eating Recovery Center in 2012. After years of continued relapses, Megan finally found peace in their genderqueer body. Megan owes a large part of their recovery to the compassionate and accepting staff at Eating Recovery Center of Washington.