NUTRITION HOTLINE: A Healthy Meal Plan
Q: Is there a healthy meal plan that would accommodate anyone recovering from an eating disorder?
A: With the exception of anorexia nervosa, once you are in recovery from an eating disorder, your nutritional needs are similar to those of someone who has not had an eating disorder. Your body’s requirements for calories, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals are based on factors which include your age, height, weight, activity level, and medical and genetic history. If you have had anorexia, the number of calories that your body needs to maintain your weight may be higher for several years after weight restoration. A physician or a registered dietitian familiar with eating disorders can help you determine your unique caloric needs.
For most people, The USDA Food Pyramid can be used as a general guide. I encourage clients to choose mostly whole instead of refined grains, a serving of nuts and beans daily, and to have 4-5 different colors of fruits and vegetables each day. Unsaturated fats are the best choices, especially olive and canola oils. Lean meats, non-fat or low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and soy foods are good protein sources.
Serving sizes are best determined by your hunger and fullness levels. A good start is to have a serving of protein, complex carbohydrates (whole grain bread or cereals, starchy vegetables, rice, pasta, etc.), fat (margarine, butter, mayonnaise, salad dressing, oil), and a fruit or vegetable at each meal. A serving of protein, complex carbohydrate, fruit or vegetable is the amount that can be held in the palm of your hand. A serving of fat is 1 teaspoon for margarine, butter, mayonnaise, or oil and 1 Tbsp. for salad dressing. For daytime snacks I recommend a fruit, complex carbohydrate, or vegetable with a protein food. Eating a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat at meals helps to regulate blood sugar levels and provides for optimum energy output. I also recommend a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement with 100% of the RDAs, and 1000 mg calcium per day if you are not eating 3 servings of milk, cheese, yogurt or calcium fortified foods per day (like soy milk or orange juice). Give yourself permission to have a daily serving of a sweet food, when desired, to help avoid feelings of deprivation and subsequent overeating or binging.
Below is an example of a healthy food plan for a person requiring 2000 calories per day:
1 whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter
8 oz. non-fat milk
1 apple and string cheese
1 turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread with cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato
8 oz. light yogurt
I serving grapes
1 serving whole-wheat crackers with salsa
1 chicken breast stir-fried with 1 cup Chinese vegetables
1 1/2 cups white or brown rice
1 serving ice cream, sorbet, brownie or fruit salad
If you have not already read Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, I highly recommend it for assistance in establishing a normal eating pattern. It is available at www.edcatalogue.com.
Reprinted with permission from Eating Disorders Recovery Today
Fall 2003 Volume 2, Number 1
©2003 Gürze Books
About the Author
Diane Keddy, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian with a private practice in Newport Beach, CA.
Dr. Gnap website editor eatingdisordersrecoverytoday.com. Dr. Gnap is a family practice physician and behavioral medicine specialist in suburban Chicago. Dr. Gnap developed the Inner Control™ Program in 1970 and has worked with thousands of people to improve and correct medical, emotional, behavioral and learning problems including performance.