Opinions Welcomed!

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!”


4 thoughts on “Opinions Welcomed!

  1. I love your answer and I think it makes a lot of sense. The biggest changes I make when switching from restricting mode to recovery mode is to substitute my diet, low-cal foods with the real stuff – full fat yogurt, milk, bread, cheese, etc. When I’ve been doing that from the start, then it’s easier for those habits to stick. For me, a lot of the fat-free low-cal foods are totally in sync with my ED thinking and it’s better to just scrap them altogether. But like you said, I think the key is variety and flexibility. If you decide that you like the taste of skim milk better, that’s fine, drink it (as long as you are getting fats elsewhere, of course). But if you find that you absolutely CAN’T drink 2% when skim isn’t available and will hit up every grocery store in town to find the skim because that’s the ONLY kind you will drink, then you’ve got a problem.

    • So glad my comments struck true with you as well, Kaylee! I think switching immediately from “diet” to “real” foods when beginning recovering is the wisest thing to do — it will (hopefully) prevent you from being on weight restoration FOREVER, is far more “normal,” and really challenges those fears straight from the beginning. <3

  2. This —-> “won’t run around town looking for light vanilla soy if my store is out” will stick with me FOREVER. So telling. I think that is a milestone as to whether or not it’s ‘OK.’
    And the drinking whatever is served bit, too.

    • So glad you found something of value in my ramblings, Missy! I think sometimes that the real test of “recovery” is flexibility. I struggled for a LONG time with being extremely rigid and inflexible in my diet and it really held me back.
      As soon as I was able to let go of those inflexibilities (granted, I couldn’t do this until I was inpatient this spring), recovery because REAL and the possibility of a real, healthy, normal life became reality.

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