Eating disorder recovery is challenging for many reasons. Eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, are chronic by nature and require constant vigilance and dedication to the healing process in order to maintain recovery for the long-term.
With eating disorders being among the most fatal of psychiatric illnesses, professional treatment and interventions are typically necessary for recovery and healing . Because there are a multitude of factors involved in eating disorder development, it is not uncommon for an individual in recovery to require some form of treatment or care over the course of months or years. While the intensity of treatment required may vary over time, having some sense of ongoing support is a fundamental aspect of long-term eating disorder recovery.
For the Spouse Who Travels Abroad
In many situations, a spouse may serve as a caregiver to their loved one who is recovering from an eating disorder, providing support in different forms. This may involve meal support, assisting with grocery shopping and meal preparation, attending various appointments and therapy sessions, and/or providing interventions as needed.
For a couple or family that is required to frequently travel abroad for various reasons, including work assignments, military work, etc., the role a spouse plays in caring for their loved one recovering from an eating disorder can become much more challenging. Moving abroad, whether once or frequently, can trigger many different stressors, which may mean added pressure to both an individual in recovery and their spouse/partner supporting them.
If you have found yourself in this situation while caring for your spouse/partner in recovery, there are several things you can do to plan ahead and ensure your loved one is maintaining their eating disorder recovery efforts:
Collaborate with Treatment Providers: The most important thing to know is that you are not alone in this process. If you are not already working with eating disorder treatment professionals, be sure to connect with specialists immediately. Having a specialist assess your individual situation and support you in preparing treatment goals can be invaluable in coming up with a plan when traveling abroad.
Your treatment team may also be able to advise you regarding potential treatment providers for continuum of care, depending on where you are relocating.
Keep the Basics Covered: Some of the fundamentals to long-term eating disorder recovery include adequate nourishment, as well as emotional/mental support.
Traveling abroad can make eating more complicated for someone in recovery.
Help your spouse navigate the new culture and/or environment you are in, including knowing where there is access to food/grocery stores, appropriate places to eat, etc.
Spend some time together getting acquainted with your options for food, as this is a major component for recovery. It may also help you spouse to get them situated with positive activities that support their emotional/mental well-being. For example, are there safe walking trails near your new home? Does your spouse have healthy coping options available to maintain their overall wellness? These are important things to keep in mind.
Take Necessary Time to Offer Support: If you are on the road frequently for work, it can be difficult to also provide the necessary support to your loved one as they continue to work through their recovery. Consider taking a short leave of absence from work, if possible, to provide the care and attention that your spouse may need.
Many companies will provide a leave of absence to employees who are supporting medical care for a family member. See what options you might have available to ensure your spouse has the support you need during these times of transition in your family.
Remember that you are not alone and there are many different resources available for eating disorder recovery to support you and your family during this time.
By taking the time to do some research ahead of time, while also connecting to professional support, you can ensure that you and your loved one have the appropriate care and resources needed to support long-term eating disorder recovery, even when traveling abroad. As a caregiver, you will also need help for yourself, so be sure to stay connected to some form of support to maintain your own sense of well-being as you care for your spouse.
About the Author: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC is a Contributing Writer for Eating Disorder Hope.
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,
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 and nutrition private practice.
References: National Eating Disorder Association, “Mortality and Eating Disorders”, https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/mortality-and-eating-disorders Accessed 6 June 2017
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.
Published on June 27, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 27, 2017.
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com