Meal plans can make such a difference in eating disorder recovery. Whether we restrict our food intake, binge, or binge and purge, over time, we find it difficult to know the appropriate amount of food to eat. We may be afraid to eat more or we may be unsure how to limit our food intake. This is why meal plans can be so helpful in eating disorder recovery. If you don’t have a meal plan, please consider getting one. If what you’re doing isn’t bringing you closer to health, there’s no reason not to give it a try.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you see a dietitian to obtain a meal plan.
1. Be honest about your food behaviors or any food fears you have.
2. Consider signing consent forms so your dietitian can consult with any other professionals you are seeing for treatment of your eating disorder. This isn’t so they can gang up on you, but so they can give you the best treatment possible by working together on your behalf.
3. Do your best to view a meal plan as a plan for health and not as a plan for weight gain or loss.
4. If you feel overwhelmed by your dietitian’s goals, be honest about that. He or she may have some suggestions on how to meet these goals or even be able to break them down into smaller, more manageable goals.
5. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a hard time following your meal plan. It takes time to change the thoughts and habits related to eating. This is a process and it isn’t something anyone can be expected to do perfectly from the beginning.
6. Consider what works best for you as far as keeping a record of your intake. Some may feel this causes them to be overly focused on food. Others may find that writing down what they’ve eaten helps them to focus on food less because once they’ve written things down, they don’t have to remember what they’ve eaten during the day.
7. Keep a journal of your feelings as they relate to whether you restrict, binge or purge. This will help you uncover the connection you have between food and feelings. Share your revelations with your dietitian and/or counselor.
8. Celebrate every food-related victory you have. Whether it’s following your meal plan for a week, a day, a meal or a snack, give yourself a pat on the back for each success.
9. If you look to God in your recovery, know that He can help you follow your meal plan, too. You can lean on Him when you feel fearful, confused or overwhelmed. You can pray during your meals or even imagine Him sitting with you while you’re eating.
10. Do your best to make the meal plan work. Commit yourself to it. If you find it isn’t working for you, don’t get down on yourself, but discuss the matter with your dietitian and counselor. They may help you modify your meal plan or introduce you to other alternatives that will work better for you.
While meal plans don’t cure eating disorders, they can be helpful. Many times we’re reluctant to try the things that would help us most if we just gave them a chance. Give a meal plan a try. It might help you more than you expected.
For more on food and meal plans, see the Address Your Relationship with Food lesson in the Christian Eating Disorder Recovery Course.
By Laurie Glass