When I first started my journey towards eating disorder recovery, I recall one simple phrase that I thought to myself over and over again:
“What the hell do I eat now?”
Having followed various food rules for so long, I was at a point where my brain felt inundated with contradictory, confusing nutrition information. Not only that, but I was just dipping my toes into intuitive eating, a way of eating characterized by tapping into your inner hunger, fullness, and satiety cues to guide eating in a way that works to prevent bingeing and promote wellness; but how was I supposed to eat “intuitively” when starting at the fridge felt like walking into a battlefield? I knew I was supposed to be giving myself unconditional permission to eat all foods, a tenet of the intuitive eating model, but I still held onto so much fear around foods that had felt almost addictive during my eating disorder.
I was desperate for guidance; for someone to tell me what to do, what to eat, and the “best” way to move forward. This entire line of thinking of course was still highly disordered, begging for the structure and rules that dieting provides. But I couldn’t go from the impossible demands that dieting and eating disorder behaviors enforced straight to the no-rules-zone that was intuitive eating. It was too much, too fast, and it paralyzed me.
Luckily I was able to find a coach who told me what I needed to hear: “You have the tools. You know what you’re doing. You just need to trust yourself.” I had finally been given explicit permission that it was my own guidance I needed, not the guidance of a food plan or a pre-packaged grocery list. Not everyone has access to such support though, and that in-between phase can be frightening.
So how do we ensure that we are being adequately fed when we first enter eating disorder recovery and start to explore intuitive eating, but have no idea how to access our intuition around food and our body yet? We seek out recipes. We search high and low for someone to tell us what to eat. But the kicker is that this can send us right back into disordered eating, because so much of the current mainstream rhetoric around recipes and food is coded with moralized language and focused on the “health” benefits of this, that, and the other.
So how do we support people entering recovery, curious about intuitive eating, scared and bewildered at where to begin, and still vulnerable to triggering language floating around in the media?
We create a resource; a food and recipe resource that provides examples of different snacks and meals that someone might like to try.
We give people an opportunity to explore flavors, textures, and combinations that they otherwise may have been too nervous to seek out, or too out of touch with their own flavor preferences to even consider.
We inspire people to try, try, and try again, in a space free of health talk and triggering numbers.
We are not here to prescribe meals, calorie counts, or rules.
We are here to give you some options; help you feel out the waters of this brand new lived experience. We hope you find it useful.
If you are ready to move forward on your Recovery Journey with more food freedom — Purchase a copy of the Recipes for Recovery Cookbook now!
Roasted Spiced Rhubarb with Dates and Yogurt, recipe sourced from Bon Appetit (Serves 4)
- ¼ cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios
- ½ cup Medjool dates, chopped
- 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons honey, divided
- 3 large rhubarb stalks (about ¾ lb.), cut into 2” pieces
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/3 cups plain yogurt
- Preheat oven to 350°. Toast pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes; let cool, then chop.
- Meanwhile, bring dates, zest, vanilla, 1 Tbsp. honey, and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, reduce heat, and simmer gently until dates are very soft and liquid is reduced by half, 8–10 minutes. Place rhubarb in a small baking dish and toss with cinnamon and date mixture. Roast, turning halfway through, until rhubarb is tender but not falling apart, 25–30 minutes.
- Whisk yogurt and remaining 1 Tbsp. honey in a small bowl. Serve spiced rhubarb and any juices with yogurt and pistachios.
(Photo sourced from Instagram, user @zoebakeforhappykids, https://www.instagram.com/p/-xqRBDjHRY/?tagged=rhubarbyogurt)
Farfalle with Spring Vegetable, recipe sourced from Food & Wine (Serves 4-6)
- 2 slices of white sandwich bread, finely chopped (1 cup)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons snipped chives
- 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 bunch broccolini
- 1 pound farfalle
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 350°. On a baking sheet, toss the bread with 1/4 cup of the oil and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once, until golden. Let cool, then stir in half each of the parsley, chives and tarragon. Season the crumbs with salt and pepper.
- In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the broccolini until tender, 1 minute; using tongs, transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop. Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
- In a deep skillet, melt the butter in the remaining 6 tablespoons of oil. Add the garlic, fennel, scallions, peas and broccolini and cook over moderate heat until the fennel is crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Add the pasta, lemon juice and cooking water and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat until the water is nearly absorbed. Stir in the remaining herbs. Sprinkle the pasta with the bread crumbs just before serving.
(Photo sourced from Instagram, user @familycirclemag, https://www.instagram.com/p/BSJtYW0jFfu/?tagged=springpasta)
~ Written by Ashley Seruya, BA
Want to free yourself from food rules that keep you stuck in unhealthy patterns of eating as you move from recovery and learn to embrace intuitive eating?
Learn how in my Nutritional Guidance online course. It helps you begin to Make Peace with Food — Click here to learn more. (Fee: $19)
Are you ready to move forward on your Recovery Journey with more food freedom?
Click here to purchase your Recipes for Recovery Cookbook now!
Following the Recipes for Recovery Cookbook will help you:
- Reconnect with positive eating experiences you had before the eating disorder
- Explore new flavors, colors, textures and aromas that connect your senses
- Experiment with previously forbidden foods that bring awareness to the present moment
- Challenge and let go of food restrictions and rigid rules to rekindle a healthy and fulfilling pattern of eating
- See success as you continue to discover food freedom
Erica Leon is a Registered Dietitian and practices from a Health at Every Size (HAES®) lens. She is certified as an eating disorder specialist and is passionate about helping women at midlife, menopause and beyond to make peace with food and body image.
Erica is a highly sensitive nutrition therapist who takes the time to learn where you or your family are in the pursuit of health. Respectful of your individual needs and lifestyle, she will provide an honest assessment of whether or not you are a good fit to work together. Click here to schedule a 15-minute Discovery Call with Erica to let us know about your needs, and to see which of our Dietitians is the best fit for you!
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