Meal Support: Triumphs and Goals

As a part of my recovery from my eating disorder, I see a dietician on a weekly basis.  I have been seeing mine now for just about 3 years now.  Every week we have lunch together for our appointment.  We have been doing this since nearly the beginning.  Over that time, we have been able to increase the variety of food I eat and try new food while receiving some much needed meal support.

This week she asked me what has been the most helpful about our meals together, what I have accomplished, and what are still my goals overall.  Whew!  Big questions!  It has taken me a few days, but I think I have some ideas and I want to share some of them with you.

So what has been the most helpful?  One of the biggest things is the meal support.  Each week with each meal we are working on creating a positive experience with food whether it is a “safe” food or not-so-“safe” food.  Not only has it increased my variety of foods, which is potentially associated with more positive outcomes in recovery (En Route to R.D. Land), but also made meals all around easier to do.  Practice makes perfect!

Another aspect of meal support is that it has helped in teaching me how to eat when I am upset, which has always been impossible for me to do.  It is the repeated practice of eating a meal regardless of emotions, changing the tone of my mealtime (my favorite is listening to Mumford and Sons), and avoiding too challenging of a meal depending on how upset I am.  It is one more way to take good self-care of myself.

Even when we are not working on challenging foods or situations, we are still practicing important skills.  For example, every few weeks or so we go out for sushi at a sushi bar that has a line of plates that circles the room just like in Japan.  (This is how we roll in Seattle.)  While sushi is one of the easiest meals for me, the challenge in this meal is knowing when to stop and listening to my internal cues.  It is a safe environment with safe food to practice being able to be in a family-style or buffet restaurant in the future, which is one of my goals.

My accomplishments so far are pretty epic.  I am eating foods that I have loved my whole life once again.  I can eat more freely than I have in years.  More and more frequently I can allow myself to have what I want to have and allow myself a treat if I want because it is okay.  The best part?  Each week is an improvement from the last or at least a learning experience to help in the future.

And what of the future?  There are still foods to work on.  I have a list of specific foods and types of foods that I would like to feel more safe about.  There are also challenges I want to do such as be able to go to a family-style or buffet restaurant.  Another challenge I want to accomplish is being able to cook for myself, which has the added challenge of my OCD of germs/contamination to contend with.  That challenge requires work with my RD and my therapist as I work simultaneously on my eating disorder and my OCD since the two go hand-in-hand.

I am truly grateful that I am able to do this work with such a wonderful dietician.  Our work week-in and week-out has been invaluable to my recovery.  It is wonderful to look back over the past few years and be able to look at all the meals and fear-foods I have conquered.

I pose these questions to you: What are your goals if you are in recovery?  What have you accomplished so far?  Try writing some of it out and see what you come up with.  Remind yourself as much as you can about how far you have come.  No matter where you are in recovery, you have accomplishments, so be proud!  And, if you are so adventurous, maybe even share them with your dietician.

2 thoughts on “Meal Support: Triumphs and Goals

  1. Ah, I love this post! Lol – of course I am somewhat biased… 🙂
    But I love hearing what works for people and I think it's awesomely amazing that you have been able to see your RD for 3 years! I love the idea of keeping a list of foods/meals/restaurants, etc that you want to conquer as you work on eating disorder recovery. I know that in OCD treatment pts will often make hierarchy lists that they start at the bottom of and work their way up – which it sounds like you did for food. I typically think of meal support as an inpatient thing, but I have also seen varying levels of “meal support” in outpatient which might mean bringing a food to a session or going out to eat, like you've been doing.
    I'm curious, you said that another challenge you are working on is cooking for yourself which you find difficult because of the germs/contamination – so how have you been able to surmount that when eating out? I've heard it the other way around, so I'm interested to hear your reply… 
    Thanks for the mention and sharing more of your story – keep up your kickass work 😉

  2. My dietician and I have been working on a hierarchy list of sorts. In the beginning, it was the same basic foods and then we built up and out from there into progressively more difficult things. Of course there are other challenges yet to do and things that need to be continually challenged.

    I think meal support in outpatient settings can be really overlooked. In inpatient, it is all about meal support and challenge foods. The problem arises for those of us like me that get booted early from programs because of insurance. There is simply not enough time to overcome a lot of fears. Outpatient also has several benefits that inpatient does not such as real-situations, specific fear foods, and having the ability to choose what to challenge based on mood, craving, etc.

    You are right in that cooking for myself will not be challenged by eating out. That goal is really challenged through the rest of the session. For instance, we are working on looking at what foods I would feel safe cooking or handling and having support around while I cook. It would be super kick ass though if she had a kitchen! 😉

    Thank you so much Kelsey!

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