• Breanna Mills R.D.

Food Choices: ED vs Recovery

Author: Breanna Mills R.D.


Two people eating at a table

One of the most freeing and challenging parts of recovery from an eating disorder, is determining what foods you actually enjoy. The eating disorder makes it difficult to determine if you truly enjoy certain foods, or whether the eating disorder has disguised certain foods as your true preferences. Part of recovery involves giving yourself permission and allowing yourself to challenge different types of food and not just the eating disorder “safe” version. When making food choices, it may be helpful to think about the intention behind the choice or think about what may be fueling that choice. Here are some examples of ways to distinguish between the foods that the eating disorder wants you to eat and the foods your recovery self wants to eat.


Eating Disorder Choice

  • Exclusively choosing diet products

  • Eating “safe” foods the majority of the time

  • Food choices that involve restriction, rationalizing, compensation or bargaining

  • Eating foods that you don’t like

  • Avoiding restaurant and takeout foods

  • Making food choices based on how your clothing is fitting that day or how you feel about your body

  • Not adding condiments, sauces, or toppings

  • Only allowing yourself to eat a certain amount of food (could be overall or one specific food)

  • Only eating during certain time windows

  • Feeling that you need to justify your food choice to others or your team


Recovery Choice

  • Eating foods that you truly enjoy

  • Challenging different options or brands of food

  • Variety

  • Making food decision based on other factors, such as texture, flavour, and temperature

  • Being open to trying new foods

  • Honouring body cues

  • Adding condiments, toppings and sauces

  • Eating enough

  • Breaking food rules

  • Mechanical eating

  • Flexibility with timing of eating

  • Trying the non-diet version of foods


Recovery from an eating disorder involves food freedom and freedom from rules, rituals and rigidity with food. The eating disorder likes to promise that you can fully recover while only eating “safe” foods and we know that this isn’t true. Consistently making the eating disorder choice with food, only reinforces the idea that other foods are not okay. Although it can be frightening to go outside of your comfort zone with food, it can also be freeing and rewarding. Allowing yourself to eat the foods that you truly enjoy can be a way to take back the power from the eating disorder and discover your true authentic self.