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The Words That Help Me Overcome Grocery Store Anxiety

Standing in the soup aisle at the local grocery store pacing back and forth and biting my nails is what happens when I try to pick out a dinner for myself. As someone who struggles with an eating disorder and a severe anxiety disorder especially relating to food, breaking any of my eating disorder’s “rules” is scary for me. Thirty minutes later and after reading all the nutrition labels on all the different soups, I walk out of the store with no dinner.

After my therapist listened to me explain just how much hate I have for myself because of this and all the horrible things I was telling myself, she decided my eating disorder behaviors were never going to change unless my thoughts and feelings about myself changed. My therapist told me to pick two positive statements I could tell myself when I’m in triggering or anxiety-provoking situations. I did not have to believe them at first, but she said after a while I would learn to believe them.

The next time I was at the grocery store, instead of telling myself I did not deserve to eat or was “too fat” to have dinner, I told myself I am strong and I can do this. It takes me repeating this again and again to actually calm myself down, but I found it really helps. I use this in several other situations as well, like when panic attacks make it hard to get through the day at work or even when getting out of bed in the morning is difficult.

So to anyone out there who is struggling: you are strong and you can do this.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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