On Wednesday, a friend and I ate supper together at my school cafeteria. The lack of label frightened me, but the vegetarian option (an egg breakfast tart, homemade bread and fresh fruit) was amazing. Having something new was a nice change from my frozen veggie burgers and unsatisfying protein bars.
Despite the anxiety regarding my weight and the calories, this meal was a great coping skill for me. Dining out can be a great way to relax, engage with others, try something new, and have a break from regular life. Whether you eat at Chipotle while joking with friends or a fancy French restaurant with a significant other, this experience can be a special event to release stress and lighten your mood.
Some people are more used to eating out than others. For example, dining in restaurants has not been a huge part of my life. However, I hold fond memories of times when my mother or father took me out for a breakfast date. Over some eggs or pancakes, we discussed friendship, faith, school and the future. These moments might have been few, but they were instrumental in my maturation process. Thus, just about eating anywhere (even at my school cafeteria) is a new and exciting event. Other people might only enjoy using this coping skill at exotic restaurants, unknown cafes, or quirky diners. Whatever you most enjoy, allow yourself to try it. Any place can work if you view it as a coping skill.
Eating disorders can make it difficult to eat in public. Anxiety and depression can also add to discomfort. However, pushing past those difficulties can lead to a lovely meal. Knowing your limits and how much you can take emotionally at the moment is important. Try not to force yourself to dine out, but let it instead be a coping skill that leads to relief from your anxiety, eating disorder thoughts, and/or depression.
Lack of money keeps me from doing this coping skill often. However, I want to use it more often so that I can spend more quality time with friends, overcome my fear of eating, and try new dishes. Dining out is starting to become a great way for me to indulge a little and take a break from the race of daily life.