Food Choices: ED vs Recovery
Author: Breanna Mills R.D.
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
Eating foods that you truly enjoy
Challenging different options or brands of food
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
Breaking food rules
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.