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  • Writer's pictureNicky Otto, RD

Regular Eating in Eating Disorder Recovery

Eating regularly, at regular intervals and in appropriate amounts, is fundamental to working through your eating difficulties. Think of it as the foundation upon which other changes are built. If we do not put gasoline in our car, it will not drive. When we don't nourish our brains and bodies, we cannot expect them to run properly. Regular eating is the first step towards normalizing your eating; doing this, and doing this well, is key.

Why Regular Eating?

  • Provides structure and control (a different sense of "control" than ED behaviours)

  • Tends to highlight thoughts, beliefs and values that may be contributing to the maintenance of the eating disorder/eating difficulties

  • Reliably results in a rapid decrease in the urges, frequency and volume of binges

  • Interruption of binges can be highly reinforcing to regular eating and can contribute to increased mood

  • Addresses delayed eating, "saving up calories for later in the day", skipping meals, undereating, over-eating, chaotic eating, disordered eating, etc.

  • Assists in the regulation of hunger and satiety signals as the digestive system becomes nourished and heals

Start with a plan. Plan your meals and snacks in advance. Commit to this plan. Resist the urge to change your plan, skip your meal, delay your eating, or compensate in any other way. Remember to take things one day at a time, one eating episode at a time or even, one bite at a time. Eating disorder recovery is hard work! Celebrate your successes. Build on past successes for a better and brighter tomorrow. Keep going when things get tough!

Your eating disorder did not develop overnight and therefore we cannot expect recovery overnight, either. Progress leads to progress! One thing is for sure- the hard work you put into your recovery will be worth your while! Every time you nourish your body, your brain, and your recovery, you turn down the volume of the eating disorder thoughts. You are stronger than they are.


Adapted from: Fairburn, C.G. (2008) Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Eating Disorders. Guilford.


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