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How to Use a Meal Plan for Eating Disorder Recovery

By Eliza Martinez

Recovering from an eating disorder does not occur quickly, and many people who have one will relapse before they are completely able to look at eating in a normal way. According to, recovery includes treatment, support and self-help. Creating a meal plan will assist you in eating adequate amounts of food while also achieving a healthy weight and good health. The two most common eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia. You will need to work with your doctor to create a treatment plan for your particular situation.

  1. Begin your meal plan gradually. Your stomach will need to adjust to your new healthier eating goals. If you are anorexic, you are used to eating such small amounts that a full meal may make you sick at the beginning. If you suffer from bulimia, you may not feel satisfied with a smaller amount of food since you may be used to binging on large quantities of food at one time. Add or avoid foods in small increments so you don't get overwhelmed right away.

  2. Eat at regular times every day. A structured eating plan allows you to eat at regularly scheduled times as well as plan what and how much you will eat. Prepare a weekly meal plan and fill in what you will eat for each meal and snack. In the beginning, stick to foods that you are comfortable eating and gradually add those that are trigger foods or forbidden foods.

  3. Eat from all of the food groups. Adequate portions of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy and whole grains will keep you healthy by ensuring that nutrient intake is at recommended levels each day. Follow the Food Guide Pyramid to help you determine how much of each group you should consume each day.

  4. Keep a food journal. Write down everything you ate, what you were doing and how you felt when you were eating it. This allows you to see what things cause your eating disorder symptoms to recur and what feelings lead to disordered eating patterns. Using this can help you come up with alternate methods of comfort at these times, such as talking with a friend or taking a walk.

  5. Set up a support system. Having people you can rely on when things are tough will help you through your recovery. This can consist of fellow eating-disorder patients, family, friends and a therapist. Knowing that you have someone to cheer you on and encourage your efforts can go a long way toward sticking to a normal eating pattern.

  6. Consult with your doctor. If you are having trouble sticking to your eating plan and are falling back into anorexic or bulimic behaviors, call your doctor. Many people recovering from an eating disorder also benefit from seeking therapy to modify their behaviors. Your doctor can provide you with a referral for this and can also give you advice and tips on how to achieve your normal eating goals.

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