Smart Grocery Shopping for Eating Disorder Recovery: Essential Tips and Strategies


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Grocery shopping can be an overwhelming experience for people suffering from an eating disorder. Learning how to navigate the grocery store is an important aspect of recovery. Let’s walk you through some tips and strategies to help you feel more confident on your next shopping trip.

How To Shop for Groceries

Before you get started, talk to your dietitian or therapist about your previous experiences with grocery shopping and any fears or concerns that you may have, and work together to create a plan.

Planning out some meals and snacks for the week can give you a direction on what groceries you will need at the store. Write out what groceries you will need to make your meals and snacks. Your list should include the following:

  • Grains
  • Proteins/Meats
  • Fats
  • Dairy
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Sauces and seasonings (as needed)
  • Drinks

Some flexibility is good, but unlimited choices can be overwhelming. It may be helpful to be specific when making your list. Instead of writing “cereal” on your list, consider specifying which type of cereal you plan to buy.

Grocery Shopping Tips

As you plan for your next grocery trip, we have a few additional tips that may help prepare you for a positive experience.

Tip 1: Bring a support person.

When you walk down an aisle that contains dozens of cereal varieties, it can be quickly overwhelming. Your support person can help by reminding you to use your coping skills and encouraging you to stick to your plan.

Choices can be hard during recovery. When you get overwhelmed by decisions, have your support person narrow it down to 2-3 options. This gives you some freedom to choose without the burden of unlimited options.

Tip 2: Give yourself permission to be flexible.

Go into the experience knowing that things may not go according to plan, and that’s okay. If the store doesn’t have the item you had planned for, allow yourself to choose a different variety.

Plus, there are always new and interesting products at the store. You may find yourself curious about certain foods that you see when you’re there. Remind yourself that it’s okay to explore and try new things.

Tip 3: Choose your shopping time wisely.

Plan your grocery trip at a time that you will not be rushed. There’s no need to put extra pressure on yourself with time constraints. Also, consider shopping at a time when the store will not be busy. This may make it easier to take your time and see your options. For those with co-occurring mental health disorders, such as social anxiety, having fewer people around may help prevent the added stress of crowds.

Most importantly, remember that you can do this! And you don’t have to do it without support.

Eating Disorder Treatment Options

Nutrition therapy can empower you to tackle challenges during grocery shopping, meal preparation, and eating with other people. At Selah House, you can work one-on-one with an eating disorder dietitian to overcome your personal barriers with food and help you navigate the store aisles with confidence. Give us a call at 866-324-8081 or complete our contact form to learn more.

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