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Recovery blog

Getting Back to the 'Back-to-School' Routine

By: Erin Birely, LCPC, Team Leader of the Renfrew Center of Baltimore and Alumni Coordinator

Posted on September 07, 2020

If your summer has been anything like mine, right now you're probably wondering, "What summer?!" But whether we felt like there were a summer or not, it is coming to an end, and our schedules are starting to change. The days are getting shorter and students are heading back to their classrooms, even if they are virtual.

With the change in schedules for ourselves or those around us, we may notice our normal routine needs a little tweaking, and with change, we know the eating disorder may try to sneak back in to our lives and regain some control.

So, this August, Nicole Stein, RD, LDN, Dietitian at The Renfrew Center of Baltimore, and I did a Facebook Live on easy, quick and inexpensive meals to help you stay on track with recovery, while navigating a changing schedule and possibly changing demands. Here are our tips:

- Keep staples on hand at all times. Make sure your pantry and kitchen are stocked with some quick and easy essentials, like peanut butter, bread, English muffins or bagels, canned chicken or tuna, frozen pre-made meals or parts of meals (personal favorite is Trader Joe's frozen Turkey Bolognese), fruit cups or canned fruit. Having these and other staples on hand ensures you'll have your exchanges, even in a pinch.

- Prioritize meal times. Whether it's for you or someone you're supporting, make sure you are physically scheduling meal times into your day. It can be especially easy in a virtual environment to just go from one class or meeting to the next without taking a break. But give your eyes and mind a rest, and make sure to walk away from the computer for at least a 30 minute scheduled meal break.

- Don't skip breakfast. I often hear people say, "I just don't have time for breakfast." Skipping breakfast can make it that much harder to follow your meal plan later in the day, so make sure you have easy breakfast items that can be taken on the go. A personal favorite is a yogurt parfait with some frozen fruit, with granola and some toast and peanut butter; it's easy to transport and hits your exchanges. Frozen waffles and pre-made breakfast burritos can also be a quick and easy way to get in exchanges.

- Spice it up. Try adding more exchanges to an old staple. We added canned chicken, peas and carrots to some packaged instant ramen and made a cheap and easy ramen bowl with multiple exchanges. Adding a cheese stick, fruit cup and some fun-size candy for desserts could mean you hit all your exchanges.

- Ask for support. This time can be stressful for all of us, even if we aren't the ones going back to school, so make sure you're asking for help when you need it. Try asking people for support in doing a part of a task, whether that's a co-worker to get a meeting started, or a child to get their lunch started. Don't be afraid to delegate to make sure you aren't giving to others while forgetting about yourself.
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