Grocery shopping is a great challenge in recovery—indeed, quite overwhelming. Now that the eating disorder no longer determines what is allowed in the shopping cart, you can theoretically pack everything. But the choices are endless. You want to take the best and not waste any money as well. And at the same time, there is also that queasy feeling when you put something in the shopping trolley that would have never been there before. Indecisiveness in recovery is a big topic – so let’s just talk about making food choices in recovery.
Shopping can be stressful and overwhelming. Stressors and challenges are waiting around every corner. Not to mention that most of the time when you had an eating disorder, the supermarket was a place where you would spend hours just looking at all the food and dreaming of eating it all. Challenges you may have to face whilst grocery shopping may be:
The abundance mindset can help us with making food choices in recovery. But what do I mean by “abundance mentality”? Simply said it is the opposite of a “shortage mentality”. In the eating disorder we create deficits for ourselves by forbidding ourselves certain things and calling ourselves “not good enough”. Often when we have an eating disorder, we are even convinced that we do not deserve anything good.
In the abundance mentality, on the other hand, we assume that there are enough resources out there for all of us and that they are accessible to us. Studies have even been able to show that different areas are active in the decision-making process, depending on whether we have an abundance or deficiency mentality. In terms of food, this means making sure our body is confident that there is always enough food and not having to hoard it ahead of time/ eat it all at once. We give ourselves unconditional permission to eat. Everything that can be bought in the supermarket, we can actually take with us. And not just today – but for the rest of your life. Do you feel what this triggers in you?
It means that you don’t have to take everything with you today. I mean you could – but what is the point of it? Because your unconditional permission to eat doesn’t have an expiration date, you can try one thing at a time at the grocery store and find out what you like and what you don’t like. You don’t lose anything even if you take something with you that you ended up not liking, it wasn’t wasted – you’ve learned something new and can try something different next time. Not every meal or snack needs to be perfect. Whatever that perfect is supposed to be anyways.
5. go shopping with someone
6. if you can’t decide, then play “ene-mene-muh”
7. take what you would take if calories weren’t a matter
8. dare to try new things, even if you don’t know if you like it at all.
9. save your money and don’t spend it on “diet” products, “light” products, “protein bars/powders”… and instead buy real food that is more filling and much more satisfying.
10. Allow yourself to spend money on yourself. You’re worth it.
I hope these tips will help you making food choices in recovery. Making decisions is uncomfortable, but you’ll find that once you’ve made a decision, no matter what you choose, the mental tension eases.