Plan Ahead: Meal Plan Tips for Eating Disorder Recovery
Posted May 31 2012 12:27am
Food is often intertwined with our everyday life and because of this; those struggling with an eating disorder can sometimes find everyday situations quite difficult. Planning ahead might assist you in dealing with some of these difficulties.
Often times, figuring out what and how much to eat can be one of the most difficult things to manage when recovering from an eating disorder. A meal plan, or a framework, of your daily nutritional needs can be a positive asset in your recovery tool box. To obtain a meal plan, visit a registered dietitian who specializes in eating disorder treatment. Once you have a meal plan, the following tips might help you on the road to recovery.
1. Get over the fact that you have a meal plan.Some people feel like a meal plan makes them more disordered, but the reality is, it will keep you less disordered and less chaotic feeling. Following a meal plan now, does not necessarily mean you will be on a meal plan forever. A meal plan is what will teach you correct portion sizes within each food group for your individual needs. A meal plan will help you learn what a normal plate of food should look like for you. It will help you stay energized throughout the day, keep your metabolism moving, ward off extreme hunger (which can trigger a variety of eating disorder behaviors), and retrain your hunger and fullness cues. A meal plan WILL provide the building blocks of learning to eat normally again.
2. Think ahead. Work on a menu planner for the week; a list of meals and snacks which you are committing to eat each day. Trying to figure out what to eat at the exact time you need to eat (or shortly before needing to eat) can be overwhelming, especially on an already difficult day. Meal planning when you are in a healthy mindset will help you remain calm and rational and will increase your chances that you will follow your meal plan when that meal or snack rolls around.
3. Make a grocery list. I know it sounds simple, but it will help more than you know. There are isles and isles of food in the grocery store and it’s easy to get caught up on one food item’s health halo or get triggered by seeing a certain food item. How many times have you gone to the grocery store, wasted an hour, and come out with a smorgasbord of random food items that don’t go together, just to discover you have to go back to the store the next day? Make a list and stick to it. It will keep your eating disorder urges in check and save you time and money at the store.
4. Save your menu planners each week and rotate them. Variety is important within your food intake, but you do not necessarily need to come up with a new recipe for each meal. Get a good base of meals and snacks going and rotate them, throwing new items in every so often.
5. Batch cook. Cook an entire batch of something (or cook a few different recipes) and freeze most of it for later, when you are triggered or too tired and exhausted to cook. You can even portion them out into individual servings before freezing them. It might be fun to batch cook with someone else. Why not lighten the load of menu planning and cooking by making it a social experience?
6. Use a crock pot. These recipes are usually simple, easy to make, and yummy! It is basically idiot proof cooking.