Coping with socialising and social eating

Lockdown has ended and life is beginning to return to “normal”. But for those living with eating disorders, “normal” might feel pretty daunting. Especially with the promise of pubs and restaurants reopening and the return of social eating.
We spoke to our Senior Occupational Therapist, Kendra, for her top tips.

First things first, it’s ok if you aren’t feeling completely elated at the thought of life returning to “normal”. 

For many of us, lockdown enforced a breather of sorts and – despite being a huge adjustment – many found a sense of relief in the absence of activities that may have otherwise been extremely challenging in recovery.

One such example of this is socialising and social eating. Both of these activities are fantastic in providing us with an opportunity to challenge the eating disorder and prove our courage and resilience (and progress!). But they also often require a lot of preparation.

Here’s Kendra’s top tips for coping with social eating…

Plan, plan, plan

Check in with where you are going and what food will be on the menu. The key here is to feel as prepared as possible whilst mitigating any moments of feeling too overwhelmed.

Remember when Kendra spoke about your locus of control in a previous blog?

“Often we try and control those things that are external to us: instead think about our internal locus of control – our attitude, our behaviours.” (Read on, here)

There’s only so much we can control that’s external to us, but we often forget our internal locus of control, and how this can also support us in challenging situations.

Ask yourself: What could you do differently that could help ease yourself into the change? How could you (personally) approach it differently?

Communication is key

Speak to the people you are socialising with – those individuals that you trust – and discuss your fears and concerns to ensure that you can get support when you need it.

Remember, it is ok to say no! If you feel you’re not ready for a big brunch celebration, then voice this. Your friends and family will understand that you need to take things at your pace, and it is really self-aware of you to understand your limitations (big high five).

On this note, if you feel you want to push yourself a little to attend a social event but need a helping hand, know that it is ok to ask for support. Remember, you have your safety network of people around you – use them.


Pace yourself, approach it all gently, and in an environment that you’re familiar with.

When you feel ready, gradually grade it by increasing the uncertainty and level of unknown. Remember, this is your journey and your energy towards socialising will wax and wane in response to how you’re feeling – you’re human!

Recovering from an eating disorder can, at times, feel like an uphill battle. You want to show up for your friends and family, but also balance and respect the fact that you are in recovery, so things might take time and require a little more thought. This is ok, and all of this is still progress. Keep showing up for your recovery every day and piece by piece, it’ll come together.

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