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  • Danie van Kay

Having a social life with an eating disorder

It's not always easy to deal with your eating disorder and also go out with friends. Maybe you're afraid that they don't get it, or that you need to do stuff that you are afraid of. Trust me: going out is something you sometimes need to do. Maybe you're scared to visit your friends because you don't know what food they will serve you. But sometimes you're too tired to go out and you're only going to please others. Here's what I've learned over the past few years.

Always take care of yourself first


I know it's the cheesiest thing in the world to say, but it's SO true. You can't take care of anyone else if you don't take care of yourself FIRST. That means being "selfish" sometimes and saying no to things. When people don't accept it - they're not your people.


It's all about the delivery


The way you say it makes a HUGE difference. For instance: if your friend invites you to a party and you tell him/her: "Listen, I'd love nothing more to come to your party, but I really have to take care of myself and stay home. My mind says yes, but my body says no. I promise I'll make it up to you. Let's have a coffee date soon! I promise I'll text you. Have fun!" How can someone be mad about that? And if they are, let them go.


Always bring a snack with you


This is something I demand from my clients. Don't be afraid to open up the fact you need to eat x amount of times per day. If you don't feel comfortable telling people you have an eating disorder, just tell them you're hungry or hypoglycemic. Something I noticed: most people don't even notice or care.


I always bring a protein bar or nuts with me wherever I go, because I AM hypoglycaemic and if I don't eat when I'm starving, I basically faint.


Try to open up to the people you're with


And tell them how you ACTUALLY feel when they ask you: "How are you doing?" Usually I tell them in advance in any case I need to leave earlier, but 7/10 times I just take it minute by minute. Most people respond well and it's really cathartic to say: "You know what, I've been better. But I'm managing. I'm just very tired but I'm so glad I'm here and I wouldn't want to miss it for the world. Just don't be surprised if I leave within an hour haha. But how are you?"


If you're feeling anxious around the food they serve, just be honest. Recovery always goes first and make sure you can text someone during moment like these to make the best decision. Someone like a coach (ME!), a friend (ME!) or your parents or siblings (NOT ME!).


Don't be afraid to say "YES" to certain things


Go (or don't) and then leave if you don't feel well enough. I'm all about trusting and following your gut feeling. I've said YES to so many things, while I knew my body could barely handle it. Sometimes I arrived at said appointment/event and thought to myself: "Get me out of here. Migraine alert." and I left while apologizing 500 million times and sometimes I went and thought: "Okay body, you're killing it today. I'm so glad I went, because somehow I managed to perk up." Either way is fine, but never be afraid to leave.


Compromising and finding solutions!


This is my most fav tip. If you're tired, try to find somewhere to rest or sit down. I always scan a room and whenever I go out. You can also invite a friend to do another activity than what they've suggested. Do things that also make YOU feel better. I know those things are damn hard, because you just want to be normal. But it takes time, patience and a lot of practice to accept this part of your life.


Just try it. Don't let your limitations get in the way of your full potential.

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