Orri’s Dietetics team answer your food recovery questions

Did you have a food recovery question for our specialist Dietetics team? We may have answered it below.

1) I really struggle with drinking enough fluids (mainly with water). Do you have any tips?

Just as regular eating, regular hydration is also important for our bodies to function optimally.

In Anorexia, restricting water intake can often be used, intentionally or not, to control the feelings of fullness. However, making sure you drink enough during the day is crucial for our physical and mental wellbeing.

Be mindful of excessive fluid intake – neither drinking too little nor drinking too much are good.

Try to aim for 1 glass of fluid (water, tea, juice etc.) with every meal and snack. 1–2 glasses with most mealtimes would be our advice. Remember to also drink in between meals; keeping a bottle of water with you, especially when you’re at work or university, is a good idea.

If you struggle remembering to drink, try these three tips:

1) Plan ahead: When planning out your meals, remember to include a drink when you write it down

2) When preparing your crockery for a meal, remind yourself to take out a glass or a mug as well

3) If you struggle with drinking plain water, buy a flavoured squash in a flavour you will enjoy. Put it in a visible place in the kitchen. It will remind you to have a glass of water with squash with your meals

2) What foods help gut health?

Gut health has recently become a ‘hot topic’ on social media. Although there is some interesting research surrounding caring for your gut, there is also a lot of misinformation being shared, so it is important to seek information from trusted sources.

In recovery from an eating disorder, the main things you can do to take care of your gut health are:

  • Eating regularly, making sure not to skip or delay meals and snacks
  • Eating a balanced diet, incorporating all necessary food groups and nutrients into your meals
  • Introducing a variety of meals, foods, and ingredients into your meal structure,
  • Drinking enough water (1-2 glasses of fluids with mealtimes)

Gut health is commonly assessed by the diversity of gut bacteria, with more diversity being generally associated with better gut health. There is some evidence, especially with Anorexia, where gut diversity is diminished due to restriction of energy intake and/or specific foods.

Focusing on incorporating a variety of foods, as well as challenging food rules around restriction of specific foods, are important steps which can contribute to taking care of your gut.

3) At what point do you need to be at physically to begin exercising or participate in sports?

For many, recovery from an eating disorder also includes working on establishing a healthy relationship with exercise and physical activity.  

From the physical health point of view, whether exercise can be safely reintroduced depends on multiple factors (healthy weight is only one of them!) and can vary between individuals. It’s important to discuss this with your team or another health professional.  

However, exercise can be a very powerful tool in maintaining an eating disorder and so it is important to reframe it and the role it plays for you before thinking about reincorporating it back into your routine – we explore when exercise can become an addiction in a previous blog.

Before you start engaging in exercise again, it is important to consider: 

– Why are you engaging in exercise in the first place? Does it feel like something you need to do, a compulsion? 

– Is it a type of physical activity you genuinely enjoy? 

– Does the exercise feel rigid: does it happen at specific times, in a specific quantity? 

– How do you feel if you don’t exercise? Are you able to rest when you need rest? 

– Are you able to increase your nutritional intake appropriately when exercising? 

– Is your mindset set on exercise as a compensatory behaviour? 

When choosing an activity: 

  • Focus on exercise that builds your mind-body connection, eg. Yoga, pilates 
  • Avoid types of exercise that have been previously compulsive 
  • Avoid the use of activity trackers or watches 
  • Remove the isolation aspect of activity by taking part in social activities that are fun 
  • Utilise support systems to keep you accountable  
  • Check in with yourself regularly – if you notice unhealthy signs, stop and seek support

4) Would you give a client with an eating disorder a goal weight, if requested from a patient?

We avoid using the term ‘goal weight’ as this can seem definitive and rigid. It can sometimes be helpful to have initial targets to work towards, however an ‘end goal’ is not usually helpful. It’s important to focus on the resolution of eating disorder behaviours and freedom around food as goals to work towards as opposed to having weight at the centre of this.

5) How do I know if I am eating the right amount to maintain my weight if I am not on a meal plan?

Set point theory 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 have infrequent or missed periods?  

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

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

Do you have to engage in restrictive eating behaviours to maintain your current weight?  

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.


6) How do you know if you are at risk of refeeding syndrome?

Risk of refeeding syndrome is related to a number of physical health factors relating to malnutrition and restrictive eating behaviours. It is important that a medical team is involved if you think you might be at risk and therefore seeking advice from your GP as starting point or eating disorder team if you have one, would be encouraged.

If you had any food based questions for your eating disorder 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 ask@orri-uk.com or fill out the form below.

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