A Binge Eater’s Vacation

Beautiful beach and sea

Normal people are happy and excited to go on vacation. My happiness and excitement, however, is mixed with fear, worry, and stress.

Going on vacation can be a complicated affair for people with eating disorders. Most people see vacations as opportunities to indulge, to try new foods, and to take a break from diets, routines, and regimens. This sounds very inviting to most people, but it can be terrifying for someone with an eating disorder.

Some of the concerns of anorexics and bulimics would be their lack of control over the food available to them and being forced to eat regularly with others while having fewer opportunities to purge, restrict, overexercise, or compensate for their food intake in some way without being detected.

My concerns as someone with binge eating disorder are similar in nature. I’ve been flip-flopping back and forth over whether I should allow myself to enjoy my vacation by eating whatever I would like or if I should adhere to my recovery eating plan while on vacation. This must sound like a completely trivial decision to anyone who is unfamiliar with eating disorders, but it has been keeping me awake at night.

Part of me wants to be “normal” (even if I’m just pretending) and not have to worry about journaling what I’m eating everyday, guess-timating calories, counting how many drinks I’ve had, and so on. But another part of me is absolutely terrified of sliding onto that slippery slope and falling back into destructive behaviours that will continue on when I return. It is unfortunately far too easy for me to relapse substantially.

I’m hoping that since I’m travelling with my boyfriend, I’ll be less tempted to binge (I usually binge in private). But I know that if I overeat while I’m on vacation (which is super easy to do) and I had planned to stick to my recovery eating plan, I’ll come back feeling so guilty, disappointed, and ashamed of myself. But if I do manage to stick to my plan, I’ll feel fantastic and so proud of myself.

On the other hand, if I allow myself to relax and stop analyzing everything that I’m eating, I won’t have to face the disappointment that may arise in the previous situation. It may feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I could finally taste freedom. But I can’t seem to rid myself of this nagging feeling that I would be “cheating” on my recovery, especially since forcing myself to be completely accountable about my food and drink intake has played such a major role in my progress.

I still haven’t made a decision. I don’t know what to do. I hate not knowing what the future will bring. Maybe there won’t be many healthy options available (doctors advise that salads, raw vegetables, some seafood, and most fruits are not safe to eat in tropical areas). Maybe I’ll be too hot to be constantly hungry.

Anyway, I’ll be leaving tomorrow for the Dominican Republic for a week! I am excited to leave the city, spend more time with my boyfriend, and experience a new environment. I’m also looking forward to reading your posts and sharing the aftermath of my vacation when I return. Fingers crossed that I don’t come back with a sunburn or a tropical disease…or feelings of failure and regret.


6 thoughts on “A Binge Eater’s Vacation

  1. Happy holidays Kristen! And good luck, but I am sure you’ll be fine. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you and enjoy the wonderful place you’re visiting, so jealous 😉

  2. Hope your vacation goes well. I think the key is to have a plan – go to a grocery store, have safe foods, let yourself try foods that are new but still safe (fish with mango salsa, mojitos instead of rum runners…) so you’re not tempted. And figure out ways to have some alone time to meditate, exercise, get a massage, write – whatever you do that takes the sting out of the temptation to binge.

    I just came back from a weekend away with my family and it was SO HARD to stick to my plan and while I did go off-plan a few times, it was actually ok. I was able to eat out and “splurge” without going crazy-splurge and without purging, self-harming, or eviscerating myself. Not that I didn’t want to but I managed to get past it, which gives me hope.

    I hope you come back with a little hope too (and some sun!).

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