About food & eating

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To fully recover from an eating disorder, you need to learn how to eat to meet nutritional and physical requirements, rather than eating to cope with emotional issues. 

This means eating three balanced meals – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – and at least 1 to 3 suitable snacks daily. The number of snacks is decided based on the form of eating disorder you have. 

About food and eating 2

Regular eating helps with:

  • eating smaller meals;
  • not losing control through hunger;
  • keeping sugar levels stable, helping with mood;
  • getting the full range of nutrients required for healthy functioning.

Some further steps to manage an eating disorder

Get help – speak to a professional and find out what eating plan is best for you.
For example:

  • if you are undereating – a gradual increase in food quantities and varieties might work.
  • if you are overeating – choose a safe reduction plan. 
  • if you are a selective eater – gradually introducing new food groups and learning to tolerate difficult sensory experiences might work. 
  • if you are binge eating – learning alternative behaviours around food and eating and managing emotions might help. 

Have a plan – this might include having regular meals, letting go of excess exercise, or eating new food groups.

Manage triggers – these include physically impactful situations such as extreme tiredness; hunger; a period of restriction; emotions such as stress, loneliness, or upset; weight-related triggers such as mirrors, scales, or clothes. 

Adapt your thinking and behaviours – learn alternative thoughts and behaviours to replace negative ones. For thoughts, this includes practising mindfulness rather than acting on each thought or challenging your thinking through a process of cognitive therapy. Emotion management might include journaling, speaking to someone, or releasing emotion in a positive way. Alternative behaviours might include carrying out a hobby or going for a gentle walk.

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