“Come on, let’s go out for a meal to celebrate!!”
“It’s your birthday, where do you want to go and eat?”
“I haven’t got much time to cook tonight, let’s eat out instead”
These phrases used to instill so much fear and horror in me. Why would I want to eat out, when I could easily make something at home. I could stay at home and be comfortable and eat something safe and known-calories.
But let me tell you something, eating out creates so many memories! Birthdays, dates, celebrations, parties… and we don’t want to be missing out on anymore, right? So here are some tips to help you eating out and how to cope.
Ok let’s be real. One meal out isn’t going to make you fat overnight. Just like one salad isn’t going to make you thin overnight. Eating out (usually) isn’t any unhealthier than eating at home! So calm down, rationalise those thoughts and realise that this is a normal part of life and that everyone does it. Your parents do it, your friends do it, your teachers do it, your siblings do it. Have they died? No. Have they exploded? No. It. Will. Not. Hurt. You.
- Familiarise yourself with the menu first
Now I know that this goes against everything that we’re told about eating out (you know, that it should be spontaneous and unknown and free from counting), but sometimes that’s just not realistic. Sometimes looking at the menu beforehand can just make the experience so much easier and stress-free (just make sure that you have a back-up order as you don’t want to be surprised with it being out of stock). This way, it’s still unknown calories, but you go in there knowing what to expect and what you’re going to order. It used to take me about 45 mins to choose what to have, and doing this before just saves time. Then, when you’re ready, stop looking at the menus and just take it as it comes. Baby steps.
- Order the same as someone else
This definitely helped me when I first started going out to eat again. It helped me realise that if I had the same pizza as my sister and she didn’t balloon over night, then neither will I. I also found that this way I was picking things that I would never chose for myself and this really pushed me in my recovery. So yeah, this was super helpful for me.
- Go with people you trust
Going with my family or my best friends really helped me feel relaxed and most comfortable. They were people that I knew I could rely on for support and that would help me through this thing that I struggled with. This helped immensely as I knew that as soon as I felt wobbly, they would be right behind my back and help me through it.
- Make it a regular thing
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. You need to keep eating out and facing that fear until you can do it without stressing. It does get it easier, I promise you. Tonight I’m going to this independent restaurant and I don’t think they even have the menu online and it hasn’t phased me. It does get easier and more enjoyable.
- Finally, enjoy yourself
This is the most important step. I could sit here and write about all the panic attacks I’ve had in restaurants, and the amount of times I’ve refused to go, or that one time when I threw my dinner at the waiter because it was different to how I expected it to be… But I could also sit here and tell you all about when my boyfriend and I ate pizza in a restaurant in London on a pier over the River Thames at night-time, or the meal that my mum and I had in Paris listening to the buskers outside the cafe, or my final meal with my best friend before she went off travelling for 18 months. These memories and moments are worth so much more to me, and I hate that some earlier memories are tainted by the fear of the food I was served, and the dread of not having prepare it myself.
Don’t let your eating disorder ruin any more memories and moments for you. It’s taken enough away from you already, don’t give it anymore. Live your live and embrace all the fears and challenges you can – you’re only young once, don’t give it all to an eating disorder that is NOT worth it.
I hope this helped, please leave a comment if you liked it or if you have any requests for other posts you’d like me to make 🙂