I will never forget the disbelief I experienced when I first discovered that a typical meal plan for bulimia recovery consisted of three meals and three snacks a day. Or the fear that came along with the realization that I needed to eat at least 2000 calories a day… every day.
Back then I honestly didn’t think it was possible (or normal) for a person to eat that much food!
Yet I was so desperate to stop being bulimic that I made some choices.
- I chose to face my food fears.
- I chose to be brave.
- I chose to put my trust in people who really understood what they were talking about (thanks Richard and Ali).
To say it changed my life is an understatement. Now fully recovered I dedicate my life to helping others to find their freedom from bulimia via Bulimia Help’s Recovery Coaching Program.
You never chose to become bulimic, but today, right here, right now, you CAN choose recovery. You can choose to be brave, as I did back then.
If you truly want to recover then regular, balanced, non-restrictive eating is a non-negotiable part of the process.
Creating a solid meal plan for bulimia recovery can really help you to get started.
That said, I really do appreciate how daunting the idea of creating your own recovery meal plan can be, especially if you don’t know that much about nutrition or ‘normal’ eating.
Luckily, the process of planning nutritionally balanced meals for recovery is no where near as complicated as it may seem. Even if like me you won’t have the luxury of working with a Registered Dietitian, creating you own meal plan for bulimia recovery is still a really good idea.
If you’re struggling to create a meal plan for bulimia recovery then try following my tips for meal planning success. I did all of these things during my my own recovery from bulimia and found them to be essential to the process.
Tip 1. Learn about the importance of structured eating
Understanding how and why structured eating works for recovery is a big first step. It will help you to feel motivated, empowered and ready for change.
If you’re new to Bulimia Help then please take some time to sit and read through the wealth of structured eating information contained in first section of the method. If you’re anything like me, it will change everything you thought you knew about the relationship between food and recovery.
Tip 2. Download our free Meal Planning PDF
You can download a copy of our Free Meal Planning PDF Guide by subscribing to the Bulimia Help Newsletter HERE.
This short guide and workbook outlines the same step-by-step process that I used to create my own balanced meal plans for recovery. The guide also covers the essential steps of meal planning, explores some example meal plans and includes some simple, practical advice on food portioning and gradually building confidence around food.
Tip 3. Plan well balanced meals from day one
I can not stress this enough – the sooner you commit to eating regular, balanced meals, the sooner you are going to see the amazing benefits that recovery has to offer you. So while it’s fine to introduce new or triggering foods slowly, it’s best to plan nutritionally balanced meals from day one.
For recovery meal planning that means including some carbohydrate, fat and protein with EVERY meal. It also means striving to eat a good balance of foods from each of the main food groups overall.
It’s a big step, it’s going to challenge you, but you are more than capable of pulling this off. Your body needs this constant balance of food to recover. Striving for food-balance from day one is something I attribute to my own success. I believe it is the main reason I was able to avoid relapsing early on.
Tip 4: Ensure any meal plans you create reflect YOUR needs
I know it’s tempting to make food comparisons. You see people living seemingly healthy lives on low-carb or low-calorie diets and you desperately want to do the same, but right now I need you to remember that you are recovering from a life threatening eating disorder.
Your body is exhausted and you are likely suffering from malnutrition. Your basic nutritional needs may be vastly different to other peoples.
Please understand that what the other people around you are eating has nothing to do with what is best for you to eat, especially while you’re recovering from bulimia.
Tip 5: Allow some flexibility with your meal plans
There will be times when, for one reason or another, you just can’t stick to a meal plan, and that’s okay. There is no need to panic. It’s okay to allow some flexibility when needed. Even without a plan you can still make food choices that support your recovery. If you always strive for balance and you always strive for non-restrictive eating then your best IS good enough.
Tip 6: Keep any meal planning excuses in check
When you first start to create and follow your meal plans you are going to face some new challenges.
- You may find it difficult to plan meals around your work or study schedule.
- You may struggle to find the time to plan and prepare regular meals due to child care commitments.
- You may worry about what others will think or say of the change to your eating patterns.
If you live a busy or emotionally chaotic life then even as you’re reading this your brain is likely bombarding you with you with reasons and excuses as to why you ‘can’t’ make the time to meal plan in recovery.
As hard as this may seem right now, I promise you that for every challenge in recovery there IS a solution, you just have to be willing to find it. You have to be willing to start facing your fears. By taking the time to plan your meals you can reduce a lot of the stress and pressure that comes with making food choices that are supportive of recovery.
Tip 7: Use food-facts to counteract your meal planning fears
When you understand exactly how the food you’re eating is facilitating your recovery you are going to have more motivation to stick to your meal plan, so take some time to explore the benefits of eating certain foods.
For example, before recovery I used to be terrified of eating anything that contained fat, so when it came to following through with the nutritionally balanced meals that I’d planned, I would remind myself of the many health benefits of eating fat and focus on the factual benefits rather than the misguided fears.
The Bulimia Help Method is packed with information on the benefits that certain food groups play in recovery.
Tip 8: Understand that all foods have a place on your meal plan
We all want to eat healthily, but a big part of recovery involves cultivating what I like to call a ‘healthy eating attitude.’ To me, someone with a healthy eating attitude strives for balance and eats a nutritionally rich diet, but also allows themselves to eat other, less typically ‘healthy’ foods like chocolate, sweets and fast food, in moderation.
You may feel out of control around these types of foods right now, but by gradually including them in your meal plan will allow you to create a normal relationship with them over time. Take a look at my article on introducing triggering foods during bulimia recovery if you’re struggling with this.
Are meal plans absolutely essential to recovery?
Generally meal plans will be more of a help than a hindrance, especially in the early stages of your recovery, however if you’re someone who finds the meal planning process to be especially triggering then it’s okay to try out a more relaxed approach.
In truth, meal plans are not always necessary but structured eating IS. So if you feel confident enough to make balanced food choices in the moment then go for it, but I would still urge you to eat mechanically, by the clock, because you just can’t trust your intuitive hunger and satiety cues at this stage.
Be bold and be brave!
When you’re sat there with your first meal plan for bulimia recovery in hand and you look down at the pages it is going to feel like you’re asking yourself to eat A LOT of food.
You’re going to feel that it is ‘too much’ food, but I promise you, it’s not.
I urge you to be brave, and to take comfort from the knowledge that the sooner you give your body the nutrients it is craving, the sooner you will be waving goodbye to those overwhelming bulimic urges that brought you here in the first place.
In health and love,