In one of the ED-support Facebook groups I’m a part of, one of the women asked for opinions on “diet” foods in recovery. She said (and I can verify with personal experience) she’s seen lots of divergent views on this.
Here was my response:
I think early in recovery – no, absolutely not. I think as you get further in your recovery and are able to distinguish your preferences vs. your ED’s, it is okay to add back in some diet foods if you genuinely enjoy them – but even then, only after you’ve eaten the “real” thing multiple times and can be assured that it is true preference.
For example, I prefer the taste of light soy over regular soy (and far more than cow’s) milk, but I will drink cow’s milk if it’s offered and won’t run around town looking for light vanilla soy if my store is out. And I’ve tried both, but prefer full fat cheese to 2%, so I eat that.
I think you also have to be very VERY cautious around diet foods that could possibly trigger your ED, even if you genuinely enjoy them. I far prefer sugar free jello to the real thing, but I absolutely cannot eat sugar free jello because it is a huge trigger to my eating disorder. Same thing for some vegetarian sandwich “meats.”
Overall, I think it’s best to avoid “diet” foods for at least 6 months, maybe more, in recovery. You need to have a diet that incorporates ALL foods and challenges any fears you might have. Perhaps more accurately, I think you need to be weight restored, and have been eating your current meal plan and maintaining your weight for 6 months with a varied diet before you even CONSIDER diet foods.
What do you guys think? I’d love to hear some more opinions, even if those opinions are along the lines of “Jessica, your ED is fooling the heck out of you — you need to give up the “diet” foods you’re eating for the full fat version!”