We often talk about Recovery, but recovery can have a different meaning for everyone. Ultimately at the center of recovery is the idea of change for the better. Regular eating is an important part of, and basis for change within Eating Disorder Recovery.
Eating Disorders disrupt patterns of eating. They might become irregular, infrequent, delayed, or involve eating very large amounts of food (binges) which leads to feelings of being out of control. The Eating Disorder might also lead to rigid rules such as not being able to eat before a certain time or before you have done a certain thing, it may impact portion sizes, or make you feel you have to fast for long periods.
Here are two methods to help you overcome disruptive patterns of eating:
The Rule of 3
Our bodies function best when we eat regularly, approximately every 3 hours. An easy way to think of this is: 3 meals, with 3 snacks daily.
Structure and habit: practising regular eating gives your life often-needed structure, and allows eating to become a regular part of your routine.
Sugar and energy levels: maintaining your energy levels over the course of the day is imperative. Regular eating helps to maintain this which in turn reduces feelings of tiredness, irritability, and poor concentration.
Delayed eating and grazing which can in turn lead to intense hunger and trigger episodes of bingeing.
Metabolism: Regular eating improves metabolic function and prevents our bodies going into starvation mode.
The Three P’s
Using the three P’s - preparation, planning, and practice - is another way to help implement regular eating into your routine. This method focuses on each process and step of the recovery journey. It is important to be intentional about each thing you do in your journey to regular eating.
Preparation - Research and meal preparation. You can use notebooks, journaling, or calendars.
Planning - Plan mealtimes, time table, alarms, motivations to keep you going.
Practice - take it slowly meal by meal, one more bite. Be consistent and push yourself a little more each time.
By using The Rule of 3 and The Three P’s, you can start to create a habit of regular eating. It may take time, but as long as you are consistent, diligent, and have compassion for yourself, you can get there!
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Jack is an intern at Beanbag Health. He is a senior at the University of Connecticut, majoring in Management. Jack states that he has already learned so much during his time at Beanbag Health and feels excited to be a part of a company that is working towards making eating disorder recovery support more accessible. He is looking forward to a future where everyone will be able to access affordable and effective mental health care.
Lindsey is one of the founders of Beanbag Health with a personal passion for eating disorders. She's a behavioral scientist with a background in health-tech and ed-tech in the US. She has designed healthcare and education programs at scale, engaging millions of Americans and thousands of students globally, including many from traditionally underserved backgrounds.
Clinically Reviewed By:
Iain is a consultant psychiatrist with postgraduate training in medicine, psychiatry, complexity science, and healthcare informatics. He's fascinated by the relationship between physical health and mental health and has extensive experience with eating disorder patients in inpatient settings. He's an honorary senior clinical lecturer at University of Oxford. His passion is making psychological strategies for recovery available to all.