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As the days get longer and the temperature rises, summertime often evokes images of pool outings, barbecues, and carefree fun. However, for individuals struggling in their relationship with food/body, this season can bring about a range of unique challenges. In this blog post, we will explore the complexities of the season for those affected by eating disorders.

  • The pressure of obtaining a “bikini body”

During this time of year, we see an increase in messaging about losing weight and achieving a “bikini body.” Social media influencers may advertise weight loss products, meal plans, and workout guides to attain a specific body aesthetic. Media portrayals of the “ideal” summer body can trigger feelings of inadequacy and negative self-image. Plus, it is common to hear our peers buzzing about the diets they are on to lose weight for the summer. This constant comparison to unrealistic standards and unrealistic routines can erode self-esteem and perpetuate unhealthy behaviors.

  • Disrupted routines

Summer often disrupts established routines, which can be particularly challenging for those with eating disorders. It is common for these individuals to prefer a highly structured schedule, and the lack of routine that often comes with the summer months can pose a real challenge. Flexible work hours and school breaks may impact eating schedules and trigger eating disorder thoughts and behaviors. Spending more time at home, changes in sleep schedules, summer travel, and increased boredom can also exacerbate the urge to engage in disordered behaviors.

  • More revealing clothing

When the weather is hot, wardrobes change to include shorts, tank tops, and other clothing that exposes more skin. Additionally, with many summer activities involving swimsuits, those struggling with body image might feel especially insecure and uncomfortable about their appearance. Those with eating disorders may disengage from activities like swimming, spending time outdoors, and anything else that would require weather-appropriate clothing. It is also common for those struggling with eating disorders to wear clothing that hides their body (i.e. sweatshirts, sweatpants, pajamas) even in the hot weather.

  • Get-togethers centered around food

Summer is the season of barbecues, picnics, fairs, and going out for ice cream. For many, this is an exciting and enjoyable time of year, but for those who struggle with eating disorders, it can greatly increase anxiety and food fears. Many people who struggle with eating disorders are already fixated on food, so the additional focus on eating can be highly stressful. Whether it be the presence of fear foods or the pressure to eat in front of others, food-centric events can often present many mental health challenges.

In conclusion, summer is not an exciting time of year for everyone. For many, it is a time where we are forced to confront some of our greatest fears and anxieties around food and body. If you or somebody you love is struggling with an eating disorder and how to manage it during the summertime, please reach out to us at info@embracestrengthcounseling.com to schedule a free consultation.