• Rhea Lewandoski R.D.

Consistency in Recovery

Author: Rhea Lewandoski R.D.

Woman eating outside

Consistent and mechanical eating can lay the foundation that supports recovery.

Disordered eating or eating disorder behaviours can disrupt our connection to our bodies and food in multiple ways, including but not limited to disrupting our hunger and fullness signals, appetite, digestion, gastrointestinal symptoms, preferences etc. When someone is experiencing eating disorder behaviours or mental restriction (food rules) it might activate physical/mental urges around food. You may notice binge urges, preoccupation with food and eating, and feelings of deprivation. If you have experienced food rules or disordered eating behaviours giving yourself permission to eat may feel like breaking a rule or feel “uncontrolled”.


These narratives, thoughts, and feelings dissipate over time with consistent nourishment. Regular and consistent eating will provide your body the ability to do repair work and allow you some more brain space to access recovery thoughts and actions. Having structure to provide your body with consistent intake will also begin the process of building that connection between your brain and body to bring back hunger and fullness cues, allow your digestion to adapt, and allow space to explore your true preferences, and food neutrality. Consistent intake is a very important aspect of recovery. Here are some examples of why consistency is important, how you know if you are being consistent, how you could determine if you aren’t being consistent and ways to increase consistency.


Why is consistency important?

  • Decrease urges and preoccupation with food

  • Regular fuel for functioning

  • Normalizing hunger signals

  • Challenging the ED

  • Establish routine/structure

  • Body can learn to trust

  • Metabolism

  • Repair work

How do you know that you are being consistent?

  • Energy and decreased fatigue

  • Honouring hunger

  • Eating every few hours

  • Regular bowel movements

  • Sticking to meal plan/structure/routine

  • Fear foods are being challenged

  • Obsessive thinking and preoccupation decreases

  • Not regularly waking up hungry

  • Mind is alert

  • Hydration

  • Sleep

  • Ability to engage in joyful movement without compensation from the ED

  • Keep up with day-to-day activities

  • Satisfied after meals

  • Less anxiety and stabilized mood

  • Strength and endurance

  • Better problem solving

  • Weight restoration/nutritional rehabilitation

  • Challenging ED rules regularly

  • Changes in how think/feel/talk about food

  • Regular spending on adequate amount of food

  • Food availability

  • Flexibility with food

How do you know that you aren’t being consistent?

  • Restricting

  • Restraint

  • Listening to the ED

  • Choosing safe foods often

  • Skipping meals or snacks

  • Delaying eating

  • Decrease in energy

  • Comparison

  • Struggle with nutritional rehabilitation/weight restoration

  • Always being hungry

  • Slow metabolism

  • Erratic emotions

  • Not eating every few hours

  • Irregular bowel movements

  • ED is predominant voice

  • ED is making excuses

  • Missing parts of a meal

Strategies to increase consistency

  • Pre plan meals

  • Mechanical eating/eating on a schedule

  • Reminders or timers

  • Accountability and support

  • One meal or snack at a time

  • All action, no thought

  • Reframing ED thoughts

  • Meditation or grounding

  • Food logs

  • Awareness of hunger cues

  • Making food a priority

  • Getting groceries

  • Asking for support

  • Distress tolerance

  • Distraction during mealtime or when urges arise