Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Director of Content and Social Media at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope
Traveling abroad can offer many memorable experiences, and seeing part of the world that you have never explored before can bring an eye-opening and refreshing experience.
However, traveling abroad and in foreign countries can also bring unanticipated stressors, which can potentially be triggering for the individual recovering from an eating disorder.
Part of successfully being in recovery is being able to plan ahead for what you can, having resources on hand for times of need, and staying adequately connected to support.
Understanding Potential Stressors While Traveling Abroad
While exploring a new country can be both exciting and invigorating, it can also bring about significant changes over a short period of time that can be triggering. Not being familiar with the culture of language of a country can be isolating, and learning how to navigate through unfamiliar territory can be overwhelming. You may also be dealing with currency changes, foreign foods, transportation challenges, time zone differences and more.
Depending on your situation and where you are in recovery, you may be better able to handle some of these stressors than others. It is possible that the accumulation of these changes can be too much to bear while traveling abroad, and by default, you may be triggered to resort to eating disorder behaviors in attempt to establish some sense of control. In addition, being thousands of miles away from loved ones, the comforts of home, and the structure of treatment can also be triggering while in recovery from an eating disorder while traveling abroad.
Learning When and Where to Turn for Help
In recovery, it is easy to justify your behaviors, to pretend like things are okay as an attempt to hold everything together. If you find yourself struggling while abroad, if you are experiencing an increased urge to engage in eating disorder behaviors, have urges to self-harm, or feel overwhelmed to the point that you are not able to function, it is crucial that you seek out help immediately.
Before traveling abroad, you should go prepared with contact information of close family members and friends that you can reach in case of an emergency. Depending on where you are traveling to, be sure you know what resources you have available for connecting to loved ones, such as internet service, public phones, or international service to a cell phone. This is important to have figured out prior to your trip in case of an emergency. Be committed to reaching out for help should you feel overwhelmed or in a position where additional help is needed.
It is also important to plan for some flexibility during a trip in which you are traveling abroad. You should know that it is okay to cut your trip short if needed or that you have the option to return home should you feel as though you are not doing well while on your trip.
Work with your eating disorder treatment professionals to discuss possible triggers and scenarios that might be encountered while traveling abroad as well as a back up plan should you need additional help and support while in a foreign country. No matter what your situation may be while traveling abroad, knowing where you can turn to help can give you peace of mind, especially while in eating disorder recovery.
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What might be helpful resources for traveling abroad while in recovery?
About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.
As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 29, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com