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Dealing with Meal Planning When You’re In Recovery

How to Plan Meals When in Eating Disorder Recovery
Meal planning with a family is difficult no matter what. Add to that planning meals when you’re in eating disorder recovery, and it can become more difficult. For some people, creating menus can be seen as the path to getting better. For others, meal planning can be quite painful.

So how do you balance family and meal planning? While the answer to this may differ depending on the person, the following tips should help you get started.

5 Meal Planning Tips

  • Go to an RD: First, don’t be afraid to talk with a registered dietitian (RD) who can help you create meal plans. An RD will guide you through the process of picking meals that have the appropriate balance of nutrients and can guide you through the shopping process.
  • Plan meals ahead of time: We’re all busy, and working mothers and fathers can find the day-to-day planning of meals difficult. Think about your week and determine when you’ll have the most amount of time to prepare meals. If you know you’re going to have a slow day, then try to take on a more challenging recipe. If not, stick to the basics. Try to keep meal planning as less stressful as possible. If you’re new to cooking, start with really easy meals.
  • Create a routine: Don’t skip meals – no matter how exhausted you are. Instead, start a routine and make attempts to eat as a family, even with busy schedules. Figure out the times when you’ll be serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, and stick to it. You’ll find it easier to plan your day, and your family will know the eating schedule for the house.
  • Generate a list of recipes you want to try: Whether it’s a handwritten notebook or a Pinterest board, create a list of foods you want to try.  Some of these foods may be challenging for you. Work your way up to preparing and practicing more challenging foods. Over time, those foods will become easier and easier to eat, and you may even enjoy them!
  • Be easy on yourself: All of us have days when we don’t feel like worrying about either cooking or takeout. If you’re having one of those days, call in the cavalry. Ask friends, significant others and family members to cook a meal for you. Then, get out and about with others for a spa day or some retail therapy. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • In our experience with eating disorders, people often tell us that they enjoy preparing food for others, but don’t eat what they prepare. Oftentimes, the pleasure of food is experienced vicariously through others when deep in the eating disorder. Give yourself permission to eat the food you prepare. While eating with others, try focusing on the conversation and enjoying the company of those around you.

How do you plan meals for your family?

Rachel Levi, LMFT, CEDS, F- IAEDPFounder/Clinical Director
Shoreline Center for Eating Disorder Treatment

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