Food and Eating Disorder Recovery, with Orri’s Dietetics Team

Have you asked our specialist Dietetics team a food question based on your recovery? They may have answered it in our latest blog…

1) How do I know if I need to gain more weight? I have a healthy BMI.

In recovery from an ED based around restriction, weight restoration is a difficult, but crucial part of the process. Although reaching the lower level of the BMI range considered as healthy can feel like a natural stopping point in weight restoration, this is unlikely to be a healthy and a natural weight for your body to thrive at.

It can be helpful to consider the ‘set point theory’. This is the theory that our bodies have a weight range at which they naturally like to sit at and that they will fluctuate within that range without the need to micromanage and control our food or exercise levels.

There isn’t a set of rules to determine this but the following can help:

Do you struggle to recognise and tune into hunger/fullness signals?  

Are you eating inconsistent meals and going for long periods without eating?  

Do you struggle to sleep due to hunger?  

Do you experience guilt about specific foods or the amount you eat?  

Do you feel preoccupied with food & think about it often?  

Do you regularly experience feeling out of control around food and eating beyond fullness?

If you answer yes to any of these questions you may possibly be above or below your set point. These symptoms can be a result of a number of factors, however, and it’s important to discuss this with a health professional if you have concerns. We explore ‘set point theory’ more here.

2) How does Orri implement meal plans, that provide a ‘base line’ for what someone should eat whilst challenging the eating disorder?

At Orri, meal plans are created in a collaborative space between an individual and their dietitian. We believe it is important that the meal plan is yours, not your dietitians, as this supports autonomy in recovery. We recognise how different eating disorders can be for each individual, which is why meal planning is a very personalised process.

For those struggling with restrictive eating disorders, we hold an open dialog around meal plans being the ‘minimum’, encouraging choices such as leaning into more substantial snacks and portions at mealtimes, second helpings, etc.

Clients are supported to feel confident in expressing hunger, and the need for increases within their meal plans, and to take charge in their recovery.

Meal plans, mealtimes, and dietetic support around them all reinforce the need for adequate nutrition in recovery, but also champion normalising one’s relationship with food. We encourage clients to lean into recovery through making varied choices, with the meal plan initially providing structure and more prescriptive advice, later becoming a guide for making more intuitive choices guided by hunger cues as confidence grows.

3) Solo recovery: where do I start with a meal plan?

A meal plan can play a big role in recovery and serves many purposes:

  • It ensures adequate nutrition throughout the day, while taking your personal needs into consideration.
  • It helps you structure your day in terms of defining a beginning, a middle and the end of the day. Although those not in recovery might not have written meal plans, most of us still follow a structured pattern of eating.
  • It also ensures all food groups are included, forming a balanced food plan, leaving less room for making restrictive choices.
  • It supports regular eating, with the same importance being placed on main meals and snacks. Through this, it helps you restore natural hunger queues and challenge restrictive patterns of eating, as well as develop hunger and satiety.

When creating a meal plan, think about its functions, and incorporate these into the meal plan:

  • Regular eating: Introduce a pattern of 3 meals and 3 snacks, 3-4 hours apart. To help you with this, plan out the timings of your meals and snacks in advance.
  • Include all food groups. For main meals, ensure your plate is 1/3 carbohydrate, 1/3 protein, and 1/3 vegetable and add a source of fat.
  • Start the day with breakfast – e.g. cereal with milk and a slice of toast. It will set a tone for the day and help you follow the structure.
  • If you are only starting with your recovery journey, you may want to start with what you know, adding variety to your meal plan as you grow in confidence.

At the beginning of your journey, a meal plan might be crucial in being able to reintroduce healthy eating patterns. As you progress, with practise and time, you may find yourself becoming more confident and independent around making appropriate food choices and relying less and less on your meal plan. However, remember that the structure of the meal plan keeps you accountable, and when it is removed too early, the eating disorder will see this as an opportunity to reintroduce unhelpful patterns and behaviours.

Your nutritional needs will depend on your stage in recovery. It would be advised to consider consulting a dietitian or a member of an eating disorder team regarding meal planning to ensure your individual needs are being met.

two ladies at a table holding hot drinks in cups

If you had any food based questions for your recovery, make sure to check in with Orri’s Dietetics team every Friday. All questions will be shared and answered anonymously through Instagram.

Alternatively, if you would like support or wanted to get in touch with us, you are welcome to send an email to or fill out the form below.

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