Going to the grocery store can be a fraught experience for many of us- it seems like there are more than a million different choices of cereal, product ingredients typically include words we can’t even pronounce, and trying to decipher nutritional content can quickly turn into a rabbit hole.
To help make grocery shopping a useful and productive experience for those recovering from an eating disorder, ANAD created the support service Grocery Buddies. This service is designed to equip loved ones and friends with the tools to help someone who is recovering from an eating disorder stay accountable to their recovery goals and ease the anxiety of the grocery store. Included are seven steps, as well as crisis resources for both the individual shopper and supportive buddy.
No matter where the journey takes you both, we hope this service provides tips, tricks, and support along the way. Good luck shopping!
Steps to Success
Step One- Make a plan. In order to be as supportive as possible, it’s important that your shopper is able to communicate what they’re nervous about before even stepping into a grocery store. We recommend that buddy and shopper sit down together, talk through their anxieties, and create a plan so you can best support them before, during, and after the shopping experience.
Step Two- How you’ll help. This step will help figure out what your role will be while you’re at the grocery store. What will you do while you’re at the store? If you see your shopper purchasing something, not on the list, what will you say? Using the Grocery Buddies training to help the shopper keep to their plan is also a good way to stay on track.
Step Three- Nutrition. While you don’t need to be an expert on nutrition, it’s helpful to your shopper to have ideas on general nutrition. If you’re helping your shopper decide what foods to purchase, or if they’re following a meal plan created by a nutritionist/dietician, encourage them to follow that plan closely. You can also use the basic guidelines from ChooseMyPlate.gov as a helpful starting point.
Step Four- The Grocery List. Once your shopper has a meal plan established, it’s time for them to create their own grocery list. Keep in mind that this will look different for everyone. Some people may also have anxiety about certain items or areas of the store, so talking beforehand is key to having a positive experience.
Step Five- Going to the store. Before leaving, be sure to check in one more time with your shopper about what you have agreed upon. It’s useful to have a plan on how to handle potential anxieties, what foods to look for, and ideas on how to support your shopper. Remember, neither of you will be perfect. Stay flexible and patient, forgive each other’s mistakes, and always remember that you can try again during future trips.
Step Six- After shopping. Traveling home from the store is valuable decompression time. No matter how you’re getting back, take the time to identify some positives from the trip. Once you arrive back home, chat with each other about how the experience went. While you don’t need to discuss every point, spending a little time debriefing can help them come closer to reaching their goals on the next trip.
Step Seven- Setting goals. When planning your second trip, be sure to talk with your shopper about how they used the food from the first trip. Setting new goals and expectations will help as you both plan future trips, and talking with your shopper about their anxieties will make it easier for you to help them in the future.
Resources- If at any point your shopper tells you that they’re in a crisis situation, never hesitate to reach out for more help. Don’t promise to keep secrets relating to their eating disorder, and let them know that you’ll reach out for help when in a serious situation. If you’re unsure of what to do or with whom to speak, you can always call the ANAD helpline at 630-577-1330 or email for referrals. For more information about how to become a grocery buddy, please visit the ANAD site.