When beginning recovery most clients are very out of touch with their hunger cues. Eating disorder thoughts distort their version of “what’s normal” for their eating. Enter the meal plan.
Many are resistant or hesitant to follow a plan. This is often because that means giving up control and their eating disorder behaviors. This can be a very frightening thought. So besides the discomfort and stress… what does the food plan REALLY even do?
The meal plan is a critical part of eating disorder recovery and here is why:
Introduces Normalized Eating
Eating disorders distort reality.
Our bodies need many nutrients to fuel them. But many clients are out of touch with this. Their eating disorder voice has told them otherwise. A food plan can help normalize eating patterns and heal the body. If your body has been deprived of adequate nutrients due to an eating disorder, this is especially important. A meal plan provides structure to help balance the body nutritionally.
The plan helps provide structure and takes care of proper nourishment. As a result, some of the ability to utilize behaviors has been taken away. The food plan allows you to look at where the urges to control your food intake or engage in destructive behaviors come from. The focus is removed from the food. This allows you to better understand how you are utilizing food or controlling weight to cope with emotions.
Separates Food From Feelings
There may be strong frustration with the food plan. If so, it’s important to look at where the feelings are really coming from. Recognize it is not about the food. The ultimate nutrition goal is to get to a place where food is separated from feelings. And to eat mindfully and trust your own hunger/fullness cues.
The meal plan as a map
The meal plan can be considered as map that will guide you to the final destination of recovery.
Eventually, you will get to a point where you know the route so well that you won’t need the map anymore.