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How to manage time alone in Bulimia Recovery?

by Jennifer
(Los Angeles)

Hi Shaye,

I have the next 2 weeks off for holiday which is exciting, and very scary at the same time because I will have much more time alone.

I've committed to my recovery but I am still bingeing / purging once or twice a day. I am worried that all of the fun activities that I want to do during my time off will fall to the wayside and I will end up spending 2 weeks getting sicker instead of healthier.

I read your last newsletter and thought that I could use your planning tip (which you recommended for as a way to handle Christmas day). Perhaps I could write a recovery plan for each day... but will I stick to it? I want to but I don't know if I can.

I guess that I am nervous and maybe I am putting too much pressure on myself. But I really don't want to be in hell for 2 weeks when I could be growing and learning to feel better about myself. It's just that the binge comes on so fast and after I've had one too many bites of food I have to get it all out.

I appreciate the suggestions you've listed on this website and I appreciate any additional feedback you have to offer on managing time alone at the beginning of the recovery process.

Thank you so much for your time, lots of love - Jennifer

Shaye Says

HI Jennifer!

I'm sorry I didn't get back to you right away - It's been a crazy pre-christmas weekend!

That's awesome that you have two weeks off - and rightfully so you should be excited! Don't put too much pressure on yourself not to binge and purge - rather focus on the fun things you're going to do each day and accept the days of healthy eating (or mostly healthy eating) as an added bonus :)

I think planning your days is a great idea in these stages of bulimia recovery. This will give you direction and you'll wake up each morning with goals and plans - always a great thing! Again though - make sure the focus is on fun and entertainment rather than not doing specific things... The less attention and focus you give bulimia - the more your brain will learn to forget about it (break the neural pathways - like in the bulimia self help book your just purchased)

When I was newly recovered from bulimia I had just finished university and I began working as a freelance graphic designer... This was cool - but I worked from home... Which meant that for 7 hours a day I was home by myself... A TRUE test of my recovery!

But, you know what - I handled it...

Firstly, I made my eating very structured. I planned what I would eat for my breakfast, lunch and snacks. I got into the habit of stopping for 30 minutes to prepare and enjoy my meals. I also got into the habit of not picking while I was preparing my food as that triggered me to overeat.

Gradually I began to love my lunch breaks and meals alone were no problem at all.

Structured eating helped me to reduce and eventually eliminate my excessive thoughts of food.

Another thing that I did to cope with the long periods of time alone was paint... I got more involved in my art - which I'd use to distract myself when I felt the urge to eat outside my structured eating times. I think hobbies are really important in beating bulimia... Things that you enjoy doing which work as tools of distraction...

Playing an instrument, singing, doing crafts, hiking, woodwork and so on... Do some experimenting and find something that you really enjoy doing... It's a great time to learn a new skill!

Finally - have a box of things to do which could work as distraction tools... A box of great comedies, funny books, brain teaser puzzles, your favorite music and so on... These can be handy to fill in little gaps between your bigger planned holiday activities...

I hope these suggestions help - They are some of the things I learnt which helped me - I'm sure that they will help you too... But, I'm also sure that during your own bulimia recovery journey you'll figure out a number of things that work even better for you...

When you discover them... Please feel free to share :)

Have a blast these holidays and let me know how you get along!


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Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community

The Bulimia Recovery Program