My boss promised to take me and a colleague out to lunch this afternoon. I knew about it weeks in advance, and I knew we were going to a local Italian place called Antonio’s. Enter the preliminary panic.
There are plenty of reasons why going out to a restaurant was terrifying, even after all these years of attempting recovery. Here:
- It was an Italian restaurant, which meant bread, pasta, cheese, oil, and plenty of other scary foods.
- I didn’t know what was on the menu so I couldn’t really plan ahead.
- I could have ordered a salad (safe) but I didn’t want to offend my boss by not fully regarding the gift she’d offered by taking me out to eat.
- You can’t do disordered behaviors in a restaurant. You can’t spit out your food, you can’t eat only bits of the plate (at least I can’t– I feel guilty when the waiter comes to take my plate and I’ve barely touched it.) You can’t safely vomit in the restroom.
- I couldn’t control what went in to the food.
I ended up ordering fusilli with broccoli, which was the only dish that included a vegetable in its name. Honestly, I would have liked pasta alfredo, but I was afraid that I would “gain weight.” I lost to the voice this time. My dish was literally in a bath of butter and was therefore delicious– and, therefore, I’m left grappling with guilt and anxiety.
So far today I haven’t been so successful fighting off the urges to succumb to disordered behaviors. I spent an hour counting calories rather than working, and spent an inordinate amount of time sweating over the menu at the restaurant, trying to pick something that wouldn’t make me deeply anxious.
Still, this isn’t a new phenomenon. A lot of edfolks and recovering edfolks struggle in a restaurant setting and find that they can slip into some old behaviors and fears.
What are your suggestions for making the restaurant experience more bearable?