When you’re in college, you’re in an environment that’s entirely different from home. This puts recovering eating disorder patients at a disadvantage. Everything is different. The comforts you’ve had at home may not be present in your new place. And there is less control over food and triggers compared to when you’re at home.
Nevertheless, there are still many ways to maintain a steady recovery while in college. Here are some of the best ones:
1. Look for counseling services in the area
If you’re studying in a college or university that’s far from home, such as in Florida, for example, it’s best to find a local facility that offers services such as treatment programs for anxiety disorder patients and eating disorder recovery. Doing this will help you find the support you need even if you’re in a different place. If you need a dietitian or a therapist as well, start looking for ones that are accessible from your dorm or apartment.
Remember that staying connected to your treatment team and your support system is the most important key to recovery. Even if you stumble along the way, these are the people that will be the first to help you.
2. Find healthier food options
Food is usually the biggest challenge for college students who are recovering from eating disorders. For one, food options may be limited to fast-food restaurants and on-campus cafeterias that operate at limited times. Moreover, many college students don’t have access to a full kitchen that will enable them to create healthy, homemade meals, not to mention the lack of time for cooking due to schoolwork.
To address this issue, consult with your dietitian and determine what, where, and when you can eat throughout the day. Plan meal times around your class schedule and identify foods that you can store or make at the dorm. If you find it hard to incorporate variety in your diet, which is common for students, visit nearby grocery stores and farmers’ markets to see what other foods you can eat.
3. Create a trigger management plan
Triggers are going to be present in college. Whether it’s a classmate eating your favorite binge-foods or the topic of calories brought up in random conversation, triggers can and will always be there. You can’t get rid of them, but what you can do is learn how to manage them.
Come up with a management plan for your triggers. For example, after you are triggered, determine what type of activity you can do to prevent a negative reaction. Perhaps there is someone from your treatment team you can call or a calming activity that you can do. Whatever your triggers may be, setting a management plan is the best way to stay on track of your recovery.
With the physical, mental, and emotional demands of higher education, recovering from an eating disorder while studying can seem impossible. However, that cannot be farther from the truth. In fact, these are just some of the ways that you can maintain a steady recovery track while in college. To learn more, consult with your support team and try to get more insight into eating disorder recovery from the professionals.