In our society, food is everywhere. It seems like it anyway. I am foodie’d out with the focus on food culture and the constant stream of food porn on my social media stream and the parties and catch-ups over lunch, dinner, or on junk boats. If escaping food triggers is the aim, it is going to be a tough road.
I am a big advocate of unrestricted recovery where you can live a full life in society and all that involves. We need fun and connection to live a happy life. Social connection and supports are one of the biggest ingredients to a happy life. And social occasions should become ones we enjoy and flourish in. But let’s take a breath before we jump into ‘becoming normal’. Recovery for me is not getting back the life I once led or fitting in with others. Recovery for me is self discovery and finding a life I will enjoy and contribute in.
Take it slow, identify what you are comfortable with and enjoy ‘NOW’ and be flexible to this changing from day to day and as you grow in confidence and wellness.
You wouldn’t expose someone with acrophobia (fear of heights) to doing a bungee jump day 1, even if they really wanted to get over the fear and needed to address it because they work at a height or something. That’s just not the way recovery works. Well for me, it didn’t work like that anyway. In fact, if the persons acrophobia didn’t really impact their ability to do what they needed or wanted to do in life, it may even seem insane to suggest they bungy jump.
It is fun to try something new
Stepping out of the occasions that gave me the highest anxiety for a little while helped me to really explore what other options are there to connect with people without exposing myself to too many triggers. I realized my friends were very happy to try new things and cared for me and my anxiety. Their support for my recovery boosted my self-esteem and taught me I wasn’t in this alone. We even found some fun new things to do. Here are some of my favorites.
#1 Get a Manicure with Friends
Top Tip: You can tag this to the end of a lunch as a coping mechanism as you expose yourself to more food related occasions. Your hands will be occupied and you will have plenty of time to catch up with friends. It passes time without the need for additional food and drink and the pampering is comforting. Try something outrageous if it gives you a giggle. Finding the perfect design will be a change from the stream of food pics on your phone.
Gift of recovery: I missed out on so many manicure appointments during my active addiction. I couldn’t do an hour without eating or purging and I didn’t want to see my friends while I was distracted and thinking of food. I always felt so fake and distant. Now I really enjoy some girl time (or if you’re a man perhaps it is man time).
# 2 Get a Massage
Top Tip: Get a foot massage after lunch with friends. This allows the food to digest while still interacting with friends but without having the option to give into a craving for at least the hour of the massage.
Or go Solo during as a distraction or treat when a craving or anxious thoughts occur. You are only committing to an hour of time and can come back to your worry or craving after if you need to. Most likely this will pass enough time for the craving to dull and anxiety to subside.
Gift of recovery: I got so many massages in early recovery. This is Asia after all. Treat yourself as much as you can afford in early recovery. Just think of the money spent on binges or look at the amount of treats you have denied yourself due to hiding away and isolating and say to yourself ‘ I am worth it’.
#3 Paint a Picture
Top Tip: This is a more creative post-lunch option that doesn’t involve food or drink or exercise. Great option for a day-date too. There are some Art-Jamming Sessions on Hong Kong Meetup that are a great social option. If the session is for more than 3-4 hours, I suggest taking a healthy snack you are comfortable. Let your imagination run wild. Who knows you may even unearth a hidden talent you had forgotten or improve on painting skills you already know you have. You can also do this at home, but this is a great way to be with others while painting. Art classes are expensive but you will find art-jam locations offering basic supplies for not too much more than a trip to an IMAX.
Gift of recovery: Myself and my husband went to an art-jamming session when I was ill but trying to stick to a meal plan. We attended a session which ran from 2pm-6pm after lunch and the task of creating something in a new safe place was more fun than I expected. I had post-lunch discomfort for the first while but when I got into the process I forgot my worries and was able to digest in peace. I made my experience extra fun by drawing my husband in the form of a Mr. Potato Head but honestly you can draw anything or just play around with making some nice colors. I would NEVER have done this when I wasn’t trying to recover as it would be too many hours away from food.
How do I find this? The place myself and my husband went to no longer exists but I have found the following in Hong Kong. Please feel free to recommend in the comments below for art-jamming places in Hong Kong or anywhere in Asia.
- https://www.oscaryecoart.com/art-jam at PMQ (note there may be a BBQ with this one so just be aware in advance)
- http://artjamming.com/ on the southside, lots of options for packages.
- http://www.auraart.hk/painting_jam_western.html Causeway bay, you can even paint your own phone case at this place!
Top Tip: Round up a few friends for a fun few hours of crazy-golf. You may know this better as mini-golf but I do think crazy golf is a better name. Basically this involves a 9-hole course of increasingly difficult layouts to pot your golf ball, lowest score wins. This is a great afternoon or evening option and again it is a great one for the post-lunch anxiety. It was only 128HKD for a round of mini Golf per person so much the same as going to the cinema.
The Gift Of Recovery: I went recently with a small group of friends to the newly opened Strokes mini golf Centre in Causeway Bay. On this particular day I wasn’t feeling too social and almost cancelled. I was bloated and didn’t want to show myself in public. But I made the effort and was so happy I did. The subtle and easy movement helped me to digest without feeling uncomfortable or requiring me to be at any particular fitness level. You basically walk a few steps to the next hole and then hit the golf stick a few times. Sound boring, no siree; we were keeping score so the mild competition (in our case men vs women – women won) was enough to get the heart rate going and make the whole occasion quite enjoyable.
How do I find this? We went to strokes in Causeway Bay. https://strokeshk.com/
I haven’t heard of others in Hong Kong but would love to hear more if there are in the comments.
#5 Take a yoga class with a mate
Top Tip: Exercise in early recovery if you are a restrictor or over-exerciser can be tricky. It is not always advisable to take up an exercise program as you may be just changing the type of disorder you have. Follow the suggestions of your doctor or dietician and be alert for feelings of obsession. Some types of exercise were less triggering than others for me and yoga was a large part of my recovery journey. It mixes spirituality with relaxation with gentle movement which are all great to aid with overall wellness. Going with friends can make this a social occasion and keep you real in terms of when enough is enough.
The Gift of Recovery: Letting go of the need to be perfect made yoga even more enjoyable for me. I love doing at home yoga using ‘Yoga with Adrien’ as my go to You-Tube resource but going with friends for an after work session has been a great benefit of finding recovery. I have been able to look at the social and spiritual parts of yoga as experiences in themselves and let go of forcing myself to ‘go hard or go home’ in order to lose more calories. I even use yoga as a sort of self-massage now. Stretching out on my yoga matt post a writing session to re-align my neck is one of my favorite things to do and I love that lying face down on a comfy matt counts as ‘exercise’ these days.