Eating Disorder Treatment

Going Out on Pass While in Residential Treatment: Why it’s Difficult, and Why You Must Do It!

Going out on Passes throughout your Residential stay is crucial towards your Eating Disorder Recovery.

For one, you get to actually leave Resi for a while and step back into the real world! Being cooped up in a confined amount of space with the same faces… day in and day out… can really get irritating. It is important to escape for a while, if anything… for your sanity!

That being said, there are a lot of Challenges that go along with taking passes while knees deep in Residential.

Whether its a few hours or a full day, immersing yourself back into the real world can be a bit of a shock. Depending on where you are in your path to recovery, the less forgiving reality could either motivate, or deteriorate your pace.

Here are 4 common difficulties you may face while going out on passes during your ED residential stay.

  • Timing. In residential treatment, you daily schedule is decided by the program. Like clockwork, you have specific times for group sessions, meetings with your medical team, downtime, and most importantly… meal time. When out on pass, it is quite difficult to stick to the robotic schedule conducted within the walls of Resi. Depending on your plans, you may run into delays that are out of your control, such as traffic, poor restaurant service, your ever-chatty mother. Lunch for example, may not happen at 12:30pm on the dot. Let’s say you end up eat lunch while out on pass. Your pass requires that you be back by 5pm, for the strict 5:30pm dinner time. Your drive to the restaurant and order your food, which finally arrives by 2:00pm. You are done by 3pm. Satisfied, full, and proud, you leave the restaurant. You get back in time for dinner and then realize, “OOPS! I FORGOT MY AFTERNOON SNACK!”
residential treatment for ED, passes in residential treatment, leaving residential treatment
Circumstances outside of your control may delay your strictly scheduled meal times. Do your best to fit in all of your required meals and snacks.
  • Food. In Residential Treatment, you have become accustomed to preparing the foods that are available, along with the appropriate measuring cups, for a perfectly balanced dinner. On your dinner pass, you may not have the types of foods or the required tools to plate your perfect meal requirements. The waitress will look at you like you have 4 heads if you ask to measure out exactly 6 oz of fish before delivering it to the table! Depending on where you are in recovery, the restaurant you choose may not have the options you are comfortable with… just yet. If you are not prepared or ready, this can be extremely stressful and counteractive towards your recovery process.

    It is Difficult to Follow a Meal Plan while Dining at a Restaurant. Discuss with your Nutritionist beforehand how to better “Eyeball” your portion exchanges.
  • Socialization. Most of the time, passes are not allowed unless you have a support to go along with you. Solo passes, if available, are even more challenging. Who you are with while outside the comforts of residential can have an impact on your urges, anxiety, and meal-compliance. You have to prepare yourself for questions about your treatment. Whoever you are with will most certainly want to know how its going, what its like, and blah blah blah. If you are not ready to handle these questions, AND eat your foreign-prepared meal simultaneously… you may want to wait to take a pass until you are ready.

    If you plan to take a pass with a friend or family member, prepare yourself for concerns and questions about your treatment process.
  • Coffee! Remember that in Resi your caffeine intake is restricted to an unreasonably low amount! Consuming and extra 8oz while out on pass will affect you tremendously. Remember that you’ve got a 7am wake-up call… so you may want consider if 8 extra oz it worth being up all night!

    If your ED Residential Program restricts caffeine intake, you make want to refrain from “sneaking in” that second cup during your scheduled pass.

Although these challenges will be tough, it is important that you still attempt passes while in residential treatment for ED. Reality is outside of Resi… and you will at someday (soon) have to face these difficulties day in and day out.

REMEMBER THIS: It’s better to try and fail, then to not expose yourself at all while in treatment. The best part is, you get to go back to a full team of open arms ready to help you work through your challenges! Your Residential team is there to armor you with skills that will allow you to return to the less-forgiving trials of the real world. Challenge yourself on a pass, go back to residential and gear up with coping skills so you may soon live in the real world, ED FREE.


-Kristen, Founder of The Frozen Orange Society




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