Each week, over on Instagram, we ask our follower community to share their questions for our dietetics team. Here are their most recent answers…
1) How can I stop counting calories?
We know just how hard it can be to give up the behaviour of counting calories. Many people will count calories at it provides a sense of certainty or control over our lives. However, it’s a really important behaviour to challenge in recovery.
Here are our recommendations:
- Challenge yourself with unknown calorie foods
- Avoid weighing foods – this may encourage you to carry out further calculations
- Allow others to cook for you – this can reduce the control we have over it and encourages flexibility
- Implement distraction techniques after meals to minimise ruminating
- Avoid nutritional information on packages of food you purchase. You can cross it out or cover it up (or ask someone else to do this for you)
- Be brave and delete any external trackers or apps
- Conduct a social media detox and remove any accounts that aren’t supporting calories
- Remind yourself what calories are – that they simply represent a unit of energy
- Think about the foods you liked before the eating disorder to help decipher between what you want vs the ‘safer’ option
2) How do I know when I’m at my ‘set point’ weight?
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 could 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 and 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 concern.
3) How can I manage meal plans for recovery when using a food bank?
This is a really important question and highlights the need for professionals to consider the advice they give individuals based on their personal circumstances.
We would communicate this with the professionals you are working with so that this can be considered when it comes to putting your meal plan together.
We’d also consider the options you have available for each food group:
Carbohydrates: bread, pasta, rice, cereal/oats, noodles, instant mash potato
Protein: tinned beans/pulses, tinned fish/meat, long-life milk
Fruit/Veg: canned fruit/vegetables, fruit juice, tinned tomatoes, soups
Fats: cooking oils, jarred/tinned sauces, coconut milk
Snacks: biscuits, cereal bars, tinned rice pudding/custard, sponge puddings
4) How do I know how much to eat in a day to gain weight/health?
Unfortunately, because we don’t know your relationship to your eating disorder, we can’t give specific advice in this blog. However, providing that you are not a very low weight or at risk of re-feeding, you can safely increase your food intake.
Check that you are having normal portions at meals and make sure you include a minimum of 3 snacks a day which are energy dense. You could safely start by having an additional slice of toast, a glass of fruit juice, a piece of cake and a handful of dried fruit and nuts as a starting point.
If you are at a very low weight, re-introduction of food will need to be carefully managed so please do seek advice.
5) How can I stop compulsive walking?
It’s positive that you’ve identified that you have a compulsive approach to walking. Walking, like other means of exercise, should never be used as a means of compensation or punishment for food eaten. Rather, it should be an activity you do for simple enjoyment!
Right now, you may believe that your weight will escalate if you stop walking, or that you need to walk to ‘earn’ your food, and it is this fear which drives your behaviour. Try setting yourself a reduction plan: reducing by 10 minutes every few days. If there is anyone who can support you, share your intentions with them and be honest about how you are doing.
Walking for pleasure to connect with nature, to chat with friends, admire the view or simply breathe in fresh air can enhance our wellbeing. In fact, we recognise that activities for recovery in nature can have the profound ability to influence healing and recovery.
If you let it, your body will adjust to less walking which will in turn allow your body to slowly recover. In these moments where you recognise that your eating disorder may be compelling you to walk, it is important to pause, ground yourself and clock your intentions.
Think about all the things you could do whilst not walking – such as the book that needs reading, the film that you haven’t watched, the catch up with a friend which you have been meaning to do for ages. Your life extends further than your eating disorder may want you to think.
Challenge yourself on the way out of the door and check if your actions are compulsive. A prompt on the door can be really helpful to help you pause and think.
If you had any food based questions for your recovery, make sure to check in with Orri’s Dietetics team every Monday. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form below.