Our Naturopathetic Nutritional Therapist, Marissa, shares her top tips for the picnic season…
The weather is hot and the clouds are few: it’s picnic season! London parks are filled with people enjoying themselves and eating on a blanket, with (maybe!) a glass of Champagne or two.
Picnics can be overwhelming if you are suffering from an eating disorder. It’s typical for sufferers to fear they you will eat the WHOLE picnic, or may use it as an opportunity to restrict because “it’s too hot to eat”. In other cases, someone may use it as an opportunity to feed others, by buying big sharing bags of food, whilst only eating the carrot sticks themselves.
I often hear of clients feeling stressed about picnics, and then regretting not eating enough (especially if they are also drinking alcohol). This can sometimes lead to binging in private later on, or feeling poorly, weak or too drunk for the rest of the day.
Here are some tips for a healthy and happy picnic:
- Be honest with yourself with regards to how much food you need to eat to be satisfied – both emotionally and physically
- Be honest with yourself as to what foods you enjoy – do you really find vegetable sticks and cottage cheese boring? Do you actually prefer crisps and hummus instead?
- Strive to get a balance of safe foods so that you eat enough, and fun food so that you don’t feel deprived
- Try not to decide beforehand what you will eat; instead give yourself as many eating options as feels safe. For example, instead of telling yourself you will only eat 3 crisps, try and tell yourself that you can eat crisps, and see how many you want to eat in the moment
- Choose foods you enjoy! Don’t just bring your usual lunch in a lunch box. Think what would be nice to eat in the park on a sunny day
- Bring food to share, but don’t bring food to over-feed everyone. If you are just going for a picnic with one other, do you really need 2 big bags of popcorn when you know you are not going to eat any, or you might overeat on both?
- Stay hydrated – especially if you are drinking alcohol
- Always eat a solid meal before the picnic. Skipping breakfast or lunch before the picnic can make you feel disconnected, anxious and weak. It will also increase the likelihood that you might binge. It is far more fun and safe to arrive not feeling desperate to eat, but comfortably hungry and ready to eat
- Try and be honest with your friends or family about your struggles to avoid any confrontation from those who love and want to help you
Remember picnics are a happy time! Whilst it is important to work hard and challenge yourself in recovery, it is always vital to be kind and compassionate to yourself.
And here are some of my favourite picnic meal ideas:
- A quiche, salad and crisps
- Dips such as hummus, babaganoush, guacamole, with pita breads, roasted vegetables and tortilla chips
- Salami, Parma ham and a selection of cheeses. Have it with crackers, cheese straws and pickles
- Sausage rolls or a meat pie with big vegetable salads and crisps
Finally if you fancy a dessert, pick something you might want to try in a relaxed environment. Remember it might be hot outside, so don’t pick something that might melt or go off in the heat. Try: fruit tarts, fairy cakes, fruit and caramel sauce or meringues.