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Coping With Eating Disorders When Travelling

By: Jennie Kermode - Updated: 29 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
Eating Disorder Travel Holiday Transport

Dealing with an eating disorder can require a lot of organisation. You may need to keep to a strict schedule of mealtimes or you may need to make sure that favourite foods are always on hand for the times when you can manage them. You may also have to cope with nausea, bowel problems or exhaustion. So how can you manage when you're travelling? The key is to plan ahead, and to recognise that a break with routine can sometimes be a good thing.

Eating Issues on Transport

One of the first problems you may have to deal with is getting to your holiday destination. Some bus and train companies forbid eating, which can make it difficult if you need to have small amounts at regular intervals. They should, however, have a disability policy that allows them to make exceptions. Contact the company before you travel to make sure you have the support you need.

If you suffer from travel sickness and this makes your eating problems worse, ask your doctor about medication before you go. Modern travel sickness pills can be very effective. If your other health problems mean you are advised no to take them, try chewing some pickled or crystallised ginger. You won't even need to swallow it for it to be effective in reducing your nausea.

Try to get onto transport early so that you can get a seat near a toilet. If you're flying, you can ask airline staff to help arrange this for you. You are under no obligation to tell them the details of your condition.

Eating and Holiday Accommodation

Staying in a hotel with fixed mealtimes, where you have to eat in front of other people, can be very daunting if you have an eating disorder. It's better to book room only or bed and breakfast so you don't waste money on food you're not going to eat. Make sure you get a room with a mini-fridge or take along a cool box so you can store snacks as required.

In most larger hotels it's possible to get breakfast in bed. This service often extends to different kinds of meals and light refreshments throughout the day, though you may need to pay a bit extra. It means that you can eat in privacy in your room.

Self catering accommodation can be great because it's entirely up to you when and how you prepare food. If you're staying alone, however, bear in mind that this could make it harder for you to be certain of eating at all. It could also mean that there is nobody to check up on you if you suffer from fainting.

Dining Out on Holiday

For may people, part of the pleasure of a holiday comes from dining out in caf├ęs and restaurants. This can be hard work if you have an eating disorder. You can mitigate the problem by using the internet to look up restaurants in your destination beforehand. This will enable you to suggest places that serve things you will find easier to manage.

Even if you manage to eat with other people in the evenings, you may find it exhausting. Don't be afraid to say so - this is your holiday, and not a time when you should feel pressured into doing things you can't cope with. Suggest going for picnics instead. This will make it possible for you to eat more manageable food in a relaxing environment.

Dealing with Ill Health

When you are planning holiday activities, bear in mind that you may feel ill and may not have as much energy as other people. In particular, you may more easily suffer from dehydration, so make sure to drink plenty of water, milk or fruit juice. As long as you're active, fruit sugars won't make you fat, but they will give you quick energy.

Being out in the hot sun, being active for long periods or drinking more alcohol than usual can all make you more prone to exhaustion. In some cases this can be serious. Be firm about when you need to stop. If you are going drinking, ask a friend or family member to keep an eye on you.

A genuinely relaxing vacation can help with long term efforts to conquer your eating disorder if it relieves you of the stress you feel at home. That includes stress from being pressured to eat, so don't let other people nag you during your break. This is your time to feel at ease with yourself and eating, when you can manage it, should be fun for a change.

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