Eating Disorder Triggers and Social Events

June 18, 2013 Patricia Lemoine

Feeling triggered during social events? So am I! Eating disorder triggers seem to come from every direction, but is there anything you can do about them?

Handling Eating Disorder Triggers

 Eating disorder triggers seem to come from every direction when you're at social eventsMany people going through recovery from anorexia or bulimia often ask me both on social media and in person how to navigate social events, considering the number of eating disorder triggers they can present. Social settings are where most comments about one's appearance; whether positive or negative, are usually shared. This week’s vlog, shares some of my “preparations” I consider essential when RSVP'ing for an event where I know there will be food, alcohol and small talk.

Tips to Manage Eating Disorder Triggers

Though not all these tips on managing eating disorder triggers will necessarily work for you, I can at least say that I still use them to this day, even though I’m recovered from bulimia. I think, in no small part, in my case, they are why I haven’t relapsed for a very long time when triggered in social settings. These tips are what help me feel supported and empowered, in the moments where I'm vulnerable, especially during social events.

As usual, I love to read your comments. And feel free to share some of your own tips to get through these more difficult moments we all find ourselves in.

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APA Reference
Lemoine, P. (2013, June 18). Eating Disorder Triggers and Social Events, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Patricia Lemoine

Vicky Ann Smith
June, 20 2013 at 5:27 am

I love summer now and am recovered but it still gets hard in certain social events; with my friends I can relax and enjoy the time but with family it can be difficult. My mum moved to Canada (I live in the UK) and is flying back next week for a visit, it's when I feel I'll be judged on what I'm doing/look like and my focus goes back onto food and weight. I only see her and other family once a year and it can feel intense, I'm afraid of disappointing them again.
I love this blog, I know I'll be texting someone when I need too over the couple of weeks!

June, 22 2013 at 3:43 am

Thank you for the comment Vicky! Glad you appreciate the blog. Reaching out to someone for help when you feel you need it is so important. #staystrong

July, 2 2013 at 4:13 am

I am recovering from anorexia, a battle of 5 years. I have been out of my second long stint in hospital now for a few months and feel much better in myself. Finishing my degree was a huge motivator for me. But I still have issues when it comes to settings outside of the ordinary routines I have, like eating out.
I found looking at restaurant menus before eating out did not help because I was anxious about the calorie content. To introduce me to eating out in restaurants again, my parents suggested I just eat half of what I order. We eat out very rarely so the odd meal where potentially I eat slightly less is okay. I managed it and could pick something I really wanted and not something I thought I should have and then struggle through it anyway.
Alcohol is much harder. I love cocktails and red wine but I cannot see it as anything except a substitute for food. If I drink, I feel like I have to reduce the amount I eat. I would love to be able to go out with friends and enjoy a drink but without triggering the eating disorder compensatory thoughts. My cousin is getting married soon and all I can think of is the sit-down three course meal, the alcohol, the wedding cake and the questions as to why I'm not eating.
Any advice?

July, 4 2013 at 3:36 pm

Hi Alexandra!
I understand and empathize. When you think of an event as one big blur: drinks, food, people, questions they'll ask, etc. it's overwhelming. Breaking it down can help: social part and then food & alcohol.
I would suggest having one person there with you if possible who knows what you're going through; for support. Also, you do not have to answer anything someone asks if you're not comfortable doing so. Simply saying that you have anxiety over food because you're going through a stressful time can maybe stop the conversation right there.
Compensatory thoughts are a reality in recovery. Perhaps visualizing might help. Knowing that it will be a long meal ahead of time is key in planning: think of having a drink during cocktails & speeches. Then you can dance or talk to people (esp. the person you brought along as support) in between the meal courses. Take a break. Text someone you love. Use the powder room. Go for a walk if it's a nice night, just for a few minutes; just to be by yourself and to remind yourself you can get through this, you can do it. Come back to the table and tell yourself you were able to conquer the fear of even thinking of going to the wedding. You're having cake, or not, but you made it! Avoid going to the bathroom by yourself if you feel triggered. Again, these are all my tips; I,m not a therapist or a profesh. but I'm a real girl, and so are you, and you can do this!

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