Topic Tuesday: Traveling

“Traveling with ED” (By: Kristin F.)

Holidays are alwayKristin Fs a wonderful time to travel. You get to see new places without having to take too much time off work, you get to experience new things, taste different cultures. Traveling can also bring its stresses….packing correctly, figuring out schedules/itineraries, budgeting, maximizing time. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about what it’s like to travel with the extra baggage of ED.

What I have come to understand about my relationship with ED now is that certain situations are triggers. One of these triggers is traveling-eating on the road and going to stay with someone else in their own home. Part of the joy of traveling is enjoying different types of food, trying the area’s special restaurants. Part of the way I keep ED at bay is planning. Planning breakfast, snacks, lunch, snacks, dinner…I know what foods make me feel good, what don’t. I know how much protein I need to have enough energy at work (A LOT). I know what I feel like when I eat healthily and balanced. I don’t restrict-I go out to my favorite burger place, neighborhood NY style pizzeria, the local taco shop, the hole in the wall Thai restaurant. But at the end of the day, I have learned balance. But I have to be careful- ‘balance’ can lead to control issues. Control over what I do and don’t put into my body. I always have to be careful of when balance becomes an obsession (leading to its own disorder). And when something that doesn’t fall into my food plan, allowing it to be a treat and not a stressor (the cookies that someone brought into the office…..the group trip to get ice cream).

So on my most recent trip over Memorial Day, I stayed with a friend. Travel ED battle 101-eating things that your friend provides you when staying over. They may not be what you usually eat, they may be different from your routine, but it’s important to not let ED control your manners. I wanted to enjoy the egg, sausage, and cheese casserole my friend made.  I was grateful that she was feeding me! And I did and it was delicious. Me-1, ED-0.

We then went to a major league baseball game. Let me tell you what doesn’t work-eating healthily at a baseball game. Let me tell you what also doesn’t work-being scared of baseball game food (when hungry at a 1pm ball game). I had the internal battle of what is the best option here? Everything is fried, is there ANY nutritional value to it? I just wanted something that had any type of vegetable on it. I should have known to eat before to hold me over-to plan when I know a situation can be triggering. But I didn’t, and I didn’t want to skip a meal because that is never an option.  In the end, I had a protein bar that was in my purse, ate popcorn, and had ice cream…knowing that we were grilling a good meal later. I stayed away from the other food. Should I just have had something there that would have felt like a full meal? Full meals to be these days include protein, vegetables, grains. No options there met that criteria. But that doesn’t mean I needed to be scared of eating a hot dog. It was MEMORIAL day for crying out loud!! Me-1.5, ED-.5

So, I can’t say that I handled the baseball game as well as I could have. ED was lingering, I was fighting him off, trying to practice moderation…remnants of bingeing on unhealthy food whispering in my ear…telling me to indulge…and then just ‘take care of it’ later. But it’s been 2 1/2 years since that was an I shoved that ED thought out of my head. I wish I was at the point that baseball game food wasn’t an obstacle, but in being honest, I’m not there yet. That’s okay. I need to remain gentle with myself and know that with new situations come new battles with ED. At some point I will be able to conquer this (hopefully) and it won’t feel like a big deal. For now, I will be proud that I handled it at all. That I am able to travel and not give into a triggered situation. That a triggered situation doesn’t mean ED gets to win.

About the Author

Kristin is originally from North Carolina but has lived in Nashville, TN for the past three years and now calls it home. Upon going to college in Virginia, Kristin fell victim to bulimia and struggled with her eating disorder for six years. Two years ago, she confessed to her family (who were unaware of her struggle), that she needed help. Through outpatient treatment, under the care of her beloved therapist, caring nutritionist, compassionate doctor, and countless support groups through EDCT, Kristin was able to overcome her bulimia and find peace in her recovery. The openness and vulnerability that Kristin experienced within the support groups allowed her to relate with others and overcome the intense loneliness that was a result of her eating disorder. She is extremely sensitive to these issues, as she knows ED is always lingering around the corner. She hopes that her story of finally standing up to ED can help others. Lastly, Kristin has found that animals are a wonderful vehicle in recovery, as they allow for unconditional love, no matter your size. She recently adopted a pug named Rora who brings her great joy.