If most people had to choose a favorite time of year, they would choose summer. School’s out, the sunshine abounds, the sparkling cool water of the pool, the summer foods, the summer clothes – shorts, tank tops, bikinis.

To those suffering from an eating disorder, all the above are like kryptonite. Summer is the time when body image is front and center, a time of increased struggle. But it doesn’t have to be.

Getting Through Summer

Those struggling with one or more of the three major eating disorders – anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder – feel the added pressure that comes with the fun-in-the-sun season.

The trick to getting through summer is managing your eating disorder. You manage it; don’t let it manage you. Formulate your game plan, then take the field and win the day. Each day, one day at a time.

Here are some ways to help manage your eating disorder during summer:

1. Get on a schedule. Start planning early, before the summer months hit. Get out your calendar and mark it up. Break down what a typical day will look like in your day planner. Get your medical and/or nutritional appointments, therapy sessions and recovery group meetings on there. The point is to maintain structure in the laid back, relaxed atmosphere of summertime.
2. Avoid summer fads. Don’t let the fashion magazines and tabloids at the check-out aisle tempt you. Stay hydrated with the nectar of the gods – water!

3. Wear what you want, when you want. Proudly claim your space as the only one on the beach wearing an over-sized coverup. If you aren’t ready to show off your swimsuit, then don’t.
4. Put away the smartphone and camera. It is normal for everyone to feel not so great about their bodies from time to time. If you’re already struggling with a negative body image, your anxiety can spike when seeing yourself in photographs. Why put yourself in a position that could ruin a fun time? Leave the camera at home or the smartphone in your purse. Focus on having fun; Instagram will survive without a selfie today.

You Got This

Those already struggling with an eating disorder may find the summer season a real test of their ability to stay motivated and focused on healthy eating habits. With the help of a good eating disorder therapy program and a solid support system, you can get through the summer like a beast.

Remember that you are a successful eating disorder recovery story waiting to happen; it will take more than a little sunshine, water and fun to throw you off your game.