Family vacations… they can be a great way to see new sights, strengthen bonds with loved ones, and make lasting memories. However, as we tell families at our eating disorder recovery for teens, vacations can have a whole new meaning for a person who is in recovery.
From Getting Away to Getting Anxious
A teenager recovering from an eating disorder may look at a family vacation from a whole different perspective. For them, going out of town can mean temporarily abandoning safe, familiar routines, having to deal with the expectations of strangers at restaurants, and being far from friends, counselors, and other sources of support.
With that in mind, here are some tips for planning a vacation with a person who is in recovery:
- Talk with their care providers. It’s critical that the person be cleared for travel before you leave town. While the vacation may be important to other family members, the person’s health has to come first, of course.
- Be patient. Wait until the person has been in outpatient care and stabilized for as long as possible. If you’ve got the flexibility to schedule the trip at the start of the summer or closer to fall, later is better.
- Talk things out. The person with the eating disorder will likely feel more comfortable with travel if you approach it as something the family would like to do not something the person has to do. Make it clear that your goal is for them to have a great experience, too.
- Help them acclimate with shorter trips. If possible, try taking some shorter trips — a night or two away — before embarking on the actual vacation. This will help the person work through any challenges they encounter without the stress of worrying about having a negative impact on the family trip.
- Bring familiar snack foods. Having a supply of the foods the person snacks on at home can be very reassuring.
- Have a plan for where and when you will eat. Uncertainty about meal times can be very disconcerting for a person who is in eating disorder recovery. Talk in advance about the timing of snacks and meals.
Beating an Eating Disorder as a Family
The process of eating disorder recovery for teens — and for anyone — is challenging. But when a family focuses on meeting that challenge together, everybody wins. Call us today to learn more about our programs: 916-784-1120.