Meal Plans for Recovering Anorexics: Looking at Exchanges
Recovering from anorexia has many fronts and levels of physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. However, a very difficult and key part of recovery primarily involves refraining from old habits of food restriction. After struggling with a disorder, perception of food and ability to understand appropriate portion sizes becomes incredibly skewed. One way to take steps is to create a recovering anorexic meal plan.
Since the physical symptom of restriction is faced by a recovering anorexic multiple times a day, it is important to have a plan for meals and snacks as well as a back up plan. First of all, listing safe foods and risk/challenge foods will allow a person to have a schedule on which to rely as well as create a backup plan if the day is too overwhelming to take on a stressful meal.
"Safe foods" are those foods that a person is used to eating on a daily and weekly basis. They are simpler foods to eat both physically and mentally. Risk foods are those items that terrify due to the nutrition content and emotional judgment of them. Safe foods and risk foods vary for each person, so a recovering anorexic must be able to find foods in each category that can 'feel' safer (though as recovery progresses, judgment on food does diminish). Below are examples of each category so you can begin to work in various food types in order to create a recovering anorexic meal plan that is balanced.
Starches: bread, cereal, crackers, pasta, rice, corn, potatoes, chips
Fruit: apples, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, melons, peaches, oranges
Vegetables: tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, green beans
Dairy: yogurt, milk, soy milk, cheeses, cottage cheese, etc.
Protein: nuts, ham, turkey, beef, chicken, soy-based protein, fish, eggs, etc
Fats: butter, oils, peanut butter (1/2 tbs. doesn't have enough protein to count as a protein), nuts, sour cream, dressings
Others: sugar, jelly/jam, apple butter, other 'fruit butters' (like peach butter, pumpkin butter)
The next step, before figuring out a meal plan is to know portion sizes and balance. Portion sizes vary amongst the food items as well as various programs; however, there are basic guidelines to reference. At the end of this article, there are several links for serving sizes of each 'category' of food. It is always best to measure food if and only if the person is early in recovery and uncertain of portion sizes as well those who are having a day of struggling. By measuring food, a person recovering from anorexia will not short the meal plan, something that is a major temptation for anyone who has or is struggling with anorexia.