5 Tips To Make Eating Lunch at School Easier
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, the start of the school year can definitely be a challenging time! With the added stress of homework, studying, a busier schedule, socializing with friends and of course there is also the stress of eating in school. Perhaps this summer you have been able to eat lunch with your dietitian or in your home environment. Eating lunch can be very challenging in a new setting with new people. Some find It can be an overwhelming experience, seeing what other people are eating and in turn, having other people see you, plus not having the family support you do at home, and making sure you can get in all your exchanges in the allotted lunch time.
If you are in a place in your recovery where you are able to eat at school, here are some things that can help you during lunch:
1. Make a plan
Talk to your treatment team about every detail of eating in school:
- What time is lunch?
- Who will you sit with?
- What will you bring to eat?
- How will you store it?
2. Do a Practice Run
If possible, practice eating at home. Eat the same lunch you are planning to bring to school around the same time for the same allotted lunch time. This can help take away some fear because you know you can finish your meal feel comfortable with what you are eating.
3. Have compact meals
Compact meals are meals where you can fit multiple exchanges into one food item. Talk to your Registered Dietitian about some compact meals you can bring with you to school! Some examples include:
- Wraps or Sandwiches with cheese, dressing/mayo, & protein.
- Grain Bowls using rice, pasta, quinoa or farro as the base and mixing in vegetables, protein, and fats.
- Trail Mix or Granola (you can combine two snacks into one bag!)
- M&Ms and Nuts
- Caloric beverages can also be helpful as drinking is sometimes faster than eating
4. Find your support
Find a classmate who you can sit with. You want to find someone who is nice to be around and is not triggering when it comes to talking about food and weight. You can also consider eating with a teacher or a nurse if the cafeteria setting is too overwhelming.
5. Have a Plan B
Sometimes things come up unexpectedly! If something at lunch differs from what you had planned out with your team, have a back up plan. This includes having exchanges later that day and of course talking to your team to adjust the plan moving forward.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder and need help transitioning back to school, our Registered Dietitians are here to support you through the process. Please call (301) 806-0556 or click here to make your appointment today!
Blog originally written by Kait Fortunato, RD, LD, CEDRD. Edits by Klara Knezevic, RD, LD.