OKAY, so since I get so many questions about my recovery meal plan, I figured it would be a great idea to FINALLY share it with you!! I’ll start off by giving a few tips & pointers about how I followed it & then I’ll get right into it!
If you guys have any questions, please don’t be shy – THAT’S WHAT I AM HERE FOR!
A few tips!
- Establishing a good meal plan is very personal. Your nutritionist, especially if he/she is specialized in eating disorders, will ask what you are comfortable eating, what are your favourite foods, what are the things you missed the most in your days of restriction & slowly, those will be the things your meal plan should start to incorporate. The foods on your plan should be foods you’re comfortable eating, that you enjoy eating, that you like & things that won’t shock or scare you. If my meal plan would’ve told me to eat steak every night, I know, very well that I wouldn’t have done it. This is because I know how I feel when I eat red meat. And yes, truth be told, if I’d been eating fatty foods, rich in trans fats & refined sugars, I would’ve put on weight faster, but I know I wouldn’t have been as happy or comfy in my skin & I wouldn’t have been able to change my lifestyle with it.
- There reason I was able to slowly get comfy with my meal plan was because the food on it were foods I was comfy with, foods I was eating before, that I was okay with eating & foodsI liked. If you are putting foods on your meal plan that you never ate in your entire life, that you don’t feel comfy with, it won’t be successful. Especially when you first start recovery, your mind is still very disordered & you want to avoid shocking it. This is one of the (many) reasons why I believe I was so able to implement my meal plan & to be honest with myself.
- A big part of my meal plan & the logic behind it was that I didn’t just want to “scarf down a bunch of crap” (Pardon my French!), I wanted to take my journey as an opportunity to adopt a healthier lifestyle & approach towards nutrition & to make changes I would’ve liked to make years ago. In discussing this with my nutritionist, she warmed me that doing this would mean the eight gain would happen slower & I was okay with it. I obviously wanted to put the weight on as fast as possible because my insides were starting to be affected but i wanted to do it right. I wanted it to be permanent. As you guys know I’m not one for temporary fixes. I could’ve scarfed on big macs & fries and gained the weight a lot faster but I didn’t want to put myself in a place where I would be uncomfortable with my body again. and feel like crap. My insides were affected due to my ED, and truth be told, they would’ve been just as affected, maybe in different ways, if I was eating all that refined, hydrogenated & trans fat-filled foods. There are a lot of people who are able to recover just by doing that and they are happy with it & develop a balanced lifestyle with food. But, I didn’t want that for myself. I chose to take a different & yes, a slower, approach but it WORKED!
- You have to be honest with your therapist & nutritionist. If you know you’re not going to do what they’re telling you because you don’t like the foods, aren’t comfy with them or they are scary or shocking to you, you have to be upfront.
- The only one person who will lose/suffer from not adequately respecting the meal plan is you. Your nutritionist is there to help you, but if you’re not being honest with him/her, then how do you expect the meal plan/ professional guidance to be effective? Be honest with your treatment team. There are tons of foods or dishes that my nutritionist suggested that I wasn’t comfortable with, (such as: eating bacon, eating steak at least once a week). These were things that I was not ready to do & wasn’t going to do and was honest about it because I knew how those foods made me feel (This is also one of the reasons why I got so into plant-based protein!).
- With your meal plan, there needs to be variety. People with ED have a tendency to always eat the same foods. Recovery is about getting rid of that habit, develop a love for new foods. & not getting sick of the food you are eating. You don’t want them to become too routinely because you want to avoid falling back into that same cycle. Tell your nutritionist about the foods that you love but try new foods that fall within the realm of those categories! So for example: if you love seafood but only eat shrimp, try incorporating crab or lobster or if you love chicken, try to incorporate turkey. If you love peanut butter, try almond or cashew butter. Try to incorporate similar foods so you can still be comfy but make the conscious effort to eat different things everyday so you don’t fall back into that routine or obsession with certain “safe”, “comfort” foods because you’re trying to get away from it.
- How did I pull through? You’ll see below that the meal plan is OVERWHELMING. It’s a lot of freaking food. I was overwhelmed. Even just groceries was overwhelming. If this is something that might give you anxiety, go with someone you love that will support you & that you will have fun with it with. Make a list of recipes you want to make. Make cooking an event, invite friends over to cook, learn about food/nutrition & in doing this, you might just develop a passion for food/baking. It’s really all about changing your way and finding a way to embrace the situation you’re in no matter how bad or how hard it is.
- KEEP IN MIND THAT: There will be days where you won’t be able to fully respect the meal plan for an array of different reasons. It’s tough. BUT DON’T LET IT HINDER TOMORROW. In recovery, your body is out of whack. You don’t have the ability to know how to listen to hunger cues as your body has been in starvation mode for so long, your organs slowed down or are barely functioning & your metabolism is all screwed up. There are days where you won’t feel hungry. On those days, try to push through & eat anyway but there are some days, where you just won’t be able to because you don’t feel well or just don’t have the mental ability to do it. AND THAT’S JUST FINE. Don’t let those days make you feel like you can’t do it and convince you that the same thing will happen tomorrow. Let it pass & take tomorrow as it comes. Progressively, you will see yourself fall into the routine & it will become a lifestyle. Just don’t despair. Know that things have a way of falling into place. It takes time. It’s not easy. KEEP HOPE. STAY STRONG & PUSH THROUGH. Everyday is a new day, opportunity & beautiful chance to follow your meal plan better than the day before.
- Now that I reached healthy weight, I don’t follow the meal plan anymore. But, this is not something I forced upon myself. You can’t force yourself to divert from the meal plan. It happens naturally. I’m still eating foods listed on it because those are foods that I love & enjoy but, I eat whenever and whatever I want. I eat intuitively. I listen to my body. I have never been more in tune with my body in my entire life. I know ho tow listen to my hunger cues. I also exercise a lot, so especially on days when I do double workouts, I feel hungrier, and it’s completely normal. I expend more energy & my muscles need to recover. I feed my body when I need to!
- As you enter recovery, I don’t want you to think you will be condemned to this meal plan for the rest of your life. But I genuinely believe it is the necessary base & starting point, to teach you how to eat well, reseed your body & respect it & nourish it. I promise, you will reach a point where you can eat as you wish & you won’t need it anymore. You’ll develop a healthy relationship with your body & be able to know when you want a snack, when to feed a craving, when you are hungry & when you are not. It’ll all fall into place but before that can happen, having good meal plan, preferably by a professional, someone who has been following you, in tune with you & knows your needs is crucial. When we are under the tight grip of ED, we have so much on our minds, we don’t know what to do, what’s going on or who/what to turn to. We need GUIDANCE. It really is the first step in gaining physical health. Mental well-being will come with it through therapy, but the ultimate goal is to get you back on two feet & to get your insides back where they need to be. AND WHAT BETTER WAY THAN WITH FOOD?
FOOD IS FUEL.
FOOD IS MEDICINE.
Now, let’s get into the meal plan!
MY DAILY RECOVERY MEAL PLAN
- It is crucial to respect meal & snack times to develop a routine & to accustom the body to the re-feeding process.
- Add seeds (such as pumpkin, sesame, hemp, chia, flax) &/or powders (such as, baobab, protein, cacao, collagen, maca, acaï, blueberry, lucuma, moringa, matcha, spirulina etc.) to meals/drinks to increase calories & provide essential nutrients.
| LEMON WATER / COFFEE |
| BREAKFAST |
Greek Yogurt (2 Containers of 100-150 grams each or about 200-300g) +
Granola OR Cereal (¾ cup) +
1 Slice of Toast/Half a Bagel with Peanut Butter/Jam/Cheese OR a Hard-Boiled Egg
| MID-MORNING SNACK |
Granola Bar (with nut butter; optional)
OR Banana or Other Fruit (with nut butter; optional)
OR Handful of Nuts/Seeds/Dried Fruit
Water or other Drink with Valuable Sources of Vitamins/Nutrients/Potassium
| LUNCH |
2 Slices of Bread with OR Huge Salad with:
Protein (Tuna/4 slices of Turkey/Chicken/Egg Salad OR Crab Salad) +
Vegetables (Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes, Onion etc.) +
Sauce (Vegenaise/Dijon/Mustard/Ketchup/Mayonaise/Pesto/Hummus etc.) +
Salad (Bean salad/Quinoa/Potato Salad etc.) +
2 Cookies OR Dried Fruit OR Handful of Nuts/Seeds
| AFTERNOON SNACK |
OR Crackers/Rice Cakes & Cheese/Jam/Any Other Fruit or Nut Spread
OR Other Snacks (Granola Bites, Cookies, Macaroons, Dried Fruit, Nut Clusters etc.)
| DINNER |
Cooked Protein (Fish/Chicken/White Meat OR 2/3 Cup of Legumes)
Cooked Vegetables (~ ¼ of plate)
Cooked Starch (¼ cup) (i.e. Rice/Quinoa/Millet/Bulgur/Barley/Buckwheat/Bread/Sweet Potato etc.)
Dessert: Ice cream/Sorbet/Cookies/Dried Fruit/Fruit/Handful of Nuts etc.
| POST-DINNER SNACK |
Sorbet (with Fruit/Berries)/Gelato/Ice Cream