Eat, Stay, Prepare

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I am going to try to keep this as brief as possible.
I have an Eating Disorder. I’ve had this for years, in and out of therapy and treatment. As of two months ago I was doing as best as I ever have, then a month ago I moved to Italy.

The stress, the issues I suddenly had to face, and the food culture, I gained a few pounds and my ED mind went crazy, I relapsed big time and have only now. In the past three days, managed to email my old therapist, get into a food plan, try again.

Here’s the problem.

I am invited to a dinner, drinks (apperetivo with FREE FAT filled food) every single day, by well meaning people who want me to make friends, feel at home.

I can’t do any of these things yet, I tried when I got here and I relapsed. It’s hard to explain, it’s not about the food, in that situation I get anxious, scared and next thing you know the bowl of nuts next to me is empty and I am panicking in the bathroom throwing up, or saying too bad and starting again, and again.

I did not want to move here with my ED. it caused me enough issues back home, I don’t want to have to ‘open up to people’ who aren’t even really my friends yet. In moments of stress and relapse I even come to the conclusion that I do not want any friends, friends aren’t supposed to give me such anxiety.

Obviously no one knows anything.

What can I do?
If I say I am on a diet. Then I get suggestions as simple as ‘so don’t eat that’, well, it’s not that simple, I may successfully not eat anything then, but then ill come home and make up for it, hate them, and it’s crazy. I can’t be alone in my room 24/7.

I am eating. I have a meal plan. I’m doing dbt, but I am in a high stress situation, and environment, I am tired of messing up every single day and starting afresh, this is affecting the reason I am actually here to study, what can I do?

A: Italy is a difficult place to manage food, as the popular book and movie, Eat Pray Love will attest, but reclaiming yourself will be important no matter what friends, country or offerings you are around.

It seems as if you know what you need to do to reclaim your body and your control over food.

The grad school you are in may have counselors that can help support you. Many young women struggle with this during this time of life, and the graduate school may have staff who can help directly, or who can point you in the direction of support in the area. The online support group here at Psychcentral can also give you a place to help cope.

The best coping is through prevention, which will require you to anticipate those times when you will need to have food available that doesn’t challenge you. Shop and prepare ahead for those times when you come home and are most vulnerable. Drink good water regularly so thirst isn’t confused with hunger, and when you are invited someplace bring a serving of foods good for you that you can put out with your guests’. Preparing to succeed will give you the best opportunity for success.

For suggestions, support and good nutritional information check out the American Dietetic Association website EatRight.org, the worldwide access for Food Addicts Anonymous or Overeaters Anonymous.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Oct 2010

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2010). Eat, Stay, Prepare. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/10/24/eat-stay-prepare/