by Soraya Grant
Scammers thrive on messing up their victim's daily routine. You may have found yourself skipping meals to talk to the scammer, eating at odd times to match their schedule, or eating convenience foods in front of the computer. The emotional upheaval following a scam can lead some people to lose their appetite. Others may attempt to comfort themselves by binging. This is to be expected in the short term, but starving, bingeing, and eating junk food or sweets all day can lead to serious health problems if they become permanent eating patterns. Reclaiming your food intake can also help psychologically, as it can be a major part of taking control over your life back from the scammer.
Start With a Food Journal
Take out a paper notebook or create a document on your desktop or online. Divide the paper into morning, afternoon, and evening. Write down what you ate at each of these times before you ever met the scammer online. If you always got up at seven and had a cup of herbal tea, write "7 am, herbal tea." If dinner used to always be at five-thirty, note that under "evening." Once you have an outline of your normal eating habits written down, go back over it and make a note of all the differences in your current eating patterns. This will give you an idea of what changed during and immediately after the scam.
Return to Your Old Ways of Eating Gradually
Plan each change, and make sure it is something you can handle. Suppose your food journal revealed that you used to have eggs and fruit for breakfast, a salad and a sandwich for lunch, whatever your roommate made for dinner at six, and some trail mix as a snack in the evening. Following the scam, you still eat dinner, but you had given up your breakfast and your evening snack to chat with the scammer and taken to eating junk from the vending machine at work on your lunch hour so you wouldn't have to leave your computer. You might want to write "Week 1: walk to the grocery store and buy a salad and sandwich to eat in the break room at lunch" as your first goal. Once you are used to having your old lunch again, your next goal might be to restore your old habit of sitting down to breakfast. Repeat the process until you are eating for yourself and your life once again.
Consider Making Healthy Changes If Needed
Some people might be a little startled by their old eating patterns. Maybe you didn't realize just how many salty snacks you ate during the day until you wrote it out, or perhaps your old habit of eating fast food sandwich, fries, and a soda every day after work isn't something you really need to pick up again. You might have taken a look at your journal and realized you need to eat a lot more food, or that you never did drink enough water. Start ordering salads, snacking on vegetables or fruit, adding a smoothie to your daily routine, or carrying a water bottle or glass with you.
Make an Appointment With Your Doctor for Serious Food Related Issues
This article is only meant as a form of peer guidance. Talk to your Doctor if you think you need to completely overhaul your diet, gain or lose weight, or if you suspect a diet related health problem or food allergy. Compulsive food purchasing or binge eating, purging food, self starvation, or ritualistic eating behavior are also symptoms of serious health problems that need to be addressed with a health professional.
Bring Back Food Related Traditions You Gave Up During or Immediately Following the Scam
Scammers monopolize your time and energy as a means of controling you. This often causes you to drop out of activities, including traditions involving food. Right after you discover you have been scammed, you may stay away due to emotional exhaustion or fear that people will find out about the scam and judge you. While you do not have to tell anyone about the scam unless you want them to know about it and feel you can trust them, do make an effort to rejoin activities. If you used to have Sunday dinner with your son and daughter in law twice a month, it might be time to accept at least some of their invitations again. If Sunday afternoon was always set aside for weekly grocery shopping, make your list and head to the store. Don't add to your stress or try to do too much at once. Going to the potluck of every organization you once belonged to, hosting huge family dinners, and walking to the nearby diner for your breakfast every morning might be too much to take back all at once, especially if you've isolated yourself for some time. Add the easiest thing back first, then slowly begin doing more.
Get Rid of Any Food Related Habit You Adopted Just For the Relationship That Turned Out to Be a Scam
It doesn't matter if the scammer got you drinking large bottles of soda to help you stay up to chat with them or if you started going to a restaurant because it reminded you of the type of place he talked about taking you on your first date. If you started eating or drinking anything, going to a certain restaurant, or making a certain recipe because of the scam, drop that detail from your life. This may feel like a punishment if its something you really grew to like, but the loss of a recipe, drink, food, or hangout is a small price to pay for peace of mind. Clinging to it will only keep you mentally connected to the scam.