Food in Recovery

Hey, you beautiful lot!

How’s your week going? Mine so far has involved copious amounts of hot chocolate, YouTube and procrastination. Such as right now…procrastinating…oh dear…


I wasn’t planning on doing a post today but there has been something that’s been bothering me for a long time and it’s about time I talked about it.

And that’s Food in Recovery.

I think everyone knows that recovery from an eating disorder involves food in every way, shape or form whether it involves cutting down on food or loading up on food or simply mending your relationship with food. 

I’ve always heard people talk about food as being nourishing and medicine for the body, especially during recovery. But when we (and by “we” I mean us folks in recovery) start to eat more in recovery, we think that we should really be concentrating on the “healthy” foods because they are the most nourishing.

Yes, that is partly true.

But in my case, when you’ve been starving yourself of ALL nutrients, ANY kind of food is nourishing to you whether it be fatty fries, grilled chicken, raw salad or potato chips. And it irks me that most people don’t mention this when they talk about refeeding. They talk about how often you should eat or sticking to a certain meal plan but it hasn’t been emphasised that ALL food is good for you. 

I am most certainly guilty in the past of believing that during my recovery I should stick to clean and nourishing foods because I need to give my body as much nutrients as possible. But you need high calorie foods in order to gain back the energy stores that you lost throughout your weeks/monts/years of starvation. And by eating different kinds of foods, you will find out which ones make you feel your best and which ones don’t. 

During my recovery, I realised that I suffer from a mild form of IBS and I have to be careful with what I eat. I can’t eat cleanly all the time because I would be highly restricting myself. I can’t eat avocados, onions, garlic, peas, beans, peanut butter, too much wheat, all fruit but berries and citrus, etc. What would be left for me to eat? Not much really. 

I enjoy deep fried fish and chips from the fish and chip shop. I enjoy saturday nights watching movies and eating pizza from pizza hut. Even though they may not be the most nourishing of foods, they do still carry nutrients! All food carries nutrients. 

Now, I’m not trying to convince you to go and live off of fast food and chocolate. But what I’m talking about here is balance. You can’t completely restrict yourself to “clean” food during your recovery because that is still a form of restriction and is what some call “Orthorexia”. I went down that path the last time I tried to recover and it ended up with me getting even sicker than I was before when I ate even less!

The message to take away from this post is to enjoy food. Enjoy the smells, the textures and tastes. When in recovery, it is important to have fun with food. Create things in the kitchen that you feel proud of. Bake cookies or muffins using ingredients like butter, oil and sugar. Because not only are you trying to nourish your physical being, you also need to satisfy your spiritual being as well. We get a lot of pleasure from what we eat. So don’t restrict yourself to certain foods. 

No food is bad.

Have you ever fallen into this trap?

What made you realise that there was no such thing as “good” and “bad” foods?


Posted on 12 September 2012, in Food, Health. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I’ve developed anorexia just because of that, obsession that I need to eat clean and “healthy” because otherwise I’ll be huge and ugly and unhealthy. Turns out lettuce doesn’t have much nutrients to sustain a body.
    When I’ve finally started recovery properly, not just by eating more of the “healthy” foods, it’s been such a miracle actually. My mood improved, my health improved and I had so much more fun. Food is not only about nutrients, it’s also about fun we have by eating it, specially in some good company. It’s much more fun now to eat ice cream with my fiance than just watch him eat while I munch my apple. Not a day goes by without me having some chocolate, and I swear, it makes me happier 🙂

    • Food has a social aspect, doesn’t it? It’s how people come together! And plus, it’s delicious 😉

      Life isn’t fun when you’re stuck eating an apple while everyone else is enjoying ice cream!

  2. Ah, wonderful Katy… I think you already know this lover of cheese, chocolate and a beautiful variety of carbs agree 100% with you.

    To me recovery is about breaking free from guilt. From rules, shame and fear. No, we’re not expected to enjoy every type of food there is – but our goal should be to be able to give them a try without feeling guilty or anxious. Food is food. Our body knows how to handle it all.

    In my initial phases of recovery I most defintely fooled myself into thinking progress happened, but the truth was that my diet was still incredibly restricted. Blogs influenced my perception of un/healthy food, and in a way worked to maintain a disorded mentality. Only after I stopped reading “healthy living blogs” and other blogs focues on food, did I learn to enjoy food. Not analyze food, but eat and enjoy. Explore. Have fun. Re-discover old loves (yes, that’s you pizza!). Something that concerns me is the tendency to eat low-fat versions of food in recovery. Why do that? Your body is starving. If an underweight body belonged to a healthy mind – not one influenced by anorexia/orthorexia – a rational response would be to opt for the regular versions of food to help a body in pain.

    Food is not dangerous. ED is.

  3. I definitely agree with this! There is so many types of foods out there and each food carries some form of nutrients that our bodies need, even though we may not “believe” it. We need the fried fish because the oil is good for us sometimes (we need fat to cushion our bones and our neurons in our brains need the fat of myelin sheathe to produce nerve impulses!) Likewise, we need the nutrients from fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc..because they carry minerals and vitamins. All of the foods we eat carry SOME form of nutrients!
    Plus, by exposing ourselves to new varieties and flavours, we can enjoy eating again, instead of thinking of it as a mundane process in recovery!.

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