How to Eat (and Enjoy) Food in Recovery

Eating food in recovery

The content of this article may be sensitive to some readers.

I am not a world renowned food critic, nor am I what people would consider a foodie. I didn’t go to culinary school or tour the globe, searching for the absolute best tastes the world has to offer. I’m neither a dietician nor a nutritionist, and am not certified to provide medical advice or meal plans. I’m simply a woman who has recovered from an eating disorder, and to prove this fact, I posted a picture of every single item I consumed over a 24-hour period.

I wanted to show people both in recovery and even those who would define themselves as individuals without food guilt, disordered eating, or food issues what I view as an adequate amount of food for a young person in today’s society, despite its thin-centric, fat-phobic angles.

Recovering from an eating disorder is so challenging in a world where eating as little as possible is esteemed. I remember receiving my first meal plan in recovery, and breaking down because it seemed like so much food, and besides, the non-disordered people I knew didn’t eat THAT much, did they?

The fact is, having consistent meals and snacks was exactly what my malnourished body and mind needed at the time, and still need today, even in my recovered state. This re-feeding was combined with therapy and challenging the dangerous habits I grew to repeat while dealing with my anorexia. I know there are some who may say that one cannot fully recover from an eating disorder. I’m here to refute that point with my entire being (and this article).

There is nothing wrong with eating multiple meals and snacks every day, although this culture of “Oh, I haven’t eaten breakfast today,” “I skipped lunch two days in a row,” and “I’ll just have some lemon water for dinner, I’m doing a cleanse” tries its hardest to convince you otherwise. This fact is true for everyone, barring special dietary needs or alterations due to allergies or a disease that is better managed with a certain diet.

I’m not here to tell you that my way of eating in recovery is right for every single person reading this article. I’m here to tell you that only you can decide what the proper amount is for your own body. This can also include advice from medical professionals, dieticians, and nutritionists, if this is what works for you.

My point here is that you shouldn’t listen to what society and its multi-billion dollar dieting industry has to say about your body and its needs. Why would you let a large company who has never met you determine the right foods, times, and meals for you and your body?

If I had continued to listen to what those around me (who weren’t always struggling with an eating disorder) had to (incorrectly) state about food and how depriving oneself of it is good, I would certainly still be stuck in the horrific cycle of my eating disorder. I had to be strong enough to take the advice of my treatment team and actually follow it to get to my healthy mindset today.

I even had to adjust some things according to my own needs, as I soared thirty pounds above the “goal weight” the hospital had originally set for me following my admission. Yet here I am, writing about recovery in the right head space, offering my experience as encouragement and hope, and crossing my fingers that others will also choose recovery and reject all of the outside messages that tell them otherwise.

Eating (and truly enjoying) food is not a crime, as much as the cult-like fad diets and cleanses would have you believe. Eating is necessary for survival, true, but it is also an experience to be savored and not condemned. Please allow yourself to live and taste how amazing life, recovery, and shirking the ideas of a society that demonizes properly fueling your body can be.

Please visit the National Eating Disorders Association or call the NEDA Helpline at 1-(800)-931-2237 FREE to find resources and get help.

Featured Image: Danielle Scott, Flickr

Keara Hozella
Overly-caffeinated post-grad fixated on cats (especially my girl, Sophie), literature, sparkly jewelry, anything with a purple hue, and the Oxford comma. Currently living in the middle of nowhere and looking to expand beyond "what is dreamt of in [my own] philosophy."