Many patients with eating disorders will only eat a restricted range of foods. As your eating disorder has evolved, you may have stopped eating foods that you thought were fattening or that contained sugar. Or maybe you went starch- or gluten-free or decided to “eat clean.” Maybe you became vegetarian or vegan. Or maybe you shun vegetables because you are anxious about choking on them, or you don’t allow yourself to eat desserts because you don’t believe you can limit yourself to a normal portion. If any of these restrictions is a symptom of your eating disorder, recovery will require you to increase your food variety.
Consequences of a restricted range of food intake can include nutritional deficits, maintenance of a weight too low for your body, and getting stuck in a cycle of binging or purging. Each of these, in turn, could cause serious medical complications. Increasing the range of foods eaten is a primary goal for patients of any eating disorder diagnosis, whether anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED), or avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID).
Please find below a very helpful post from HealED ‘Are you restricting without realizing it? Coaching Q&A’. In this post Ali sheds light on one of the most challenging areas of ED Recovery. We hope you’ll find the post helpful in your journey to recovery and healing.
Are you restricting without realizing it? Coaching Q&A
Right now, we’re having the hottest day on record in Scotland.
It’s a crazy 29°C outside, about 84.2 Fahrenheit.
(normally we’re lucky to get anything over 20 °C!)
So, I thought I would escape the heat,
come inside and send you a quick email.
I want to talk to you about food restriction,
It’s a tricky topic because many of us who have had eating
disorders went through years of dieting before developing
a full-blown ED.
This time spent dieting often leaves us with deeply
ingrained beliefs about food, which are often false.
Recovery allows us to challenge these beliefs
and eventually change our thought processes.
Here are some ways to know your restrict,
even without meaning to.
If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, you may find yourself unintentionally restricting at times:
- Do you avoid entire macronutrient groups, such as carbohydrates or fats?
- Do you view certain foods as ‘bad’ or ‘fattening’?
- Do you tend to eat the same foods each day even if you don’t really enjoy them?
- Are your menu selections often made based on calorie content or other nutritional aspect, regardless of what sounds good to you?
- Do you eat differently based on whether or not you’re having a ‘fat day’?
- Do you eat differently if you are around certain people, for fear of being judged?
- Would you order something, while planning to eat something different once you are home, or even plan to binge once you’re home?
- Have you recently skipped meals or gone more than 3 or 4 hours without food during the day?
- Do you ever fill up on beverages like coffee and tea, when you are actually hungry?
- Do you regularly consume artificial sweeteners?
- Does your meal plan rely heavily on meal replacement shakes and bars, especially those targeted toward weight-loss?
- Are your days often ‘lopsided’, eating most of your calories at once, rather than spacing them more evenly throughout the day?
If you do find that you’re restricting, even subconsciously, don’t despair!
The beauty of recovery is the opportunity to change your thought processes,
your eating habits and especially your patterns of restriction.
Don’t feel that you must change all of this at once.
Sustainable change often happens gradually, with baby steps.
So this week, I challenge you to take the first step.
Evaluate where you are today and be honest about any restriction
you may be engaging in, now that you can see what it really looks like.
And don’t forget that restriction fuels binge
eating behavior, so that’s why this is all so important.
I hope this information about restrictive eating patterns is helpful.
Even evaluating where you are today is an action step.
It’s never too late to make this important changes.
If you ever need extra help overcoming food restriction you can work with
one of our qualified HealED Coaches here.
I wish you all the best,