Friday, February 10, 2012

Your Turn To Give Advice To Me

I’m working on a project relating to practical steps for recovery, and I need your input. If you are recovering from an eating disorder, please take a moment to send me your thoughts about the following:

  • What are the safest foods for you to eat? 
    • Please respond with a particular food item(s), category of foods, or nutrients. And feel free to address the type of preparation, if it contributes to the ease of eating
  • What are the characteristics of a food that makes it easy to get in? 
    • Ready made? 
    • All-in-one-dish recipes? 
    • Low Fat? High Fiber? Whole grain? 
    • The flavor or lack thereof?
    • Portion size?
    • Calorie-dense or low calorie density? 
    • Trusting because someone else has been able to eat it?
    • Trusting because you believe it to be good for you?

  • Which of the following, if any do you own? Do you use?
    • Crock pot/slow cooker?
    • Rice cooker?
    • Panini/sandwich maker?
    • Microwave
    • Telephone (to have someone else bring you food?)

Thanks so much for contributing! Please share this with your friends so they may help too! I’ll be sharing more about the project sometime soon!


  1. Where would you like me to send a reply? I have far too much to put in a comment.

    1. You are welcome to put them here, so others may also chime in. If you are not comfortable with that, you can send them to me at eatwrite(at sign) Looking forward to hearing from you.

  2. Hm, these answers change depending on how far I am along in recovery, but i'll give a shot at answering anyway.

    Q: What are the safest foods to eat?

    A: At the very beginning of recovery, the safest foods to eat were ones which were prepared by people I trusted (my therapist or RD or cook at the program.... but if the cook took a vacation and we had a substitute cook, then it was harder. I knew that the people I trusted would only prepare exactly what was minimally required by my meal plan and not a calorie more). At the beginning, it was safest to eat things for which I know the calorie count. As long as I could trust that it was a X hundred calorie meal/snack, then it could be comprised of any ingredient. In other words, the trust in the caloric value made it safe - not the actual ingredients. But, if I couldn't know the calorie count, at the beginning, it felt safest to eat things that I could tell and count the various parts. For example, a salad from a restaurant was hard b/c I couldn't quite tell how much was in it, but a sandwich was easier because I could see how much turkey, cheese, spread, etc. was on it. Along those same lines, things prepared in ways that don't provide easy opportunities to add hidden oil or butter, etc were safest (ex: poached eggs were way safer than scrambled eggs; pasta was not as safe as a baked potato b/c pasta could be coated in butter without my knowing). Now, I am very far in recovery - I might even consider myself recovered - and I honestly can't think of a single thing that feels not safe... and that's b/c I have a stronger connection with my body now, so nothing is unsafe b/c my body will tell me how much to eat (not the caloric value). and I trust my body to guide me well. I also trust that eating more one day will not have an affect on my weight, and I also don't panic at the thought of my weight going up.

    Q: Characteristics of food that made it easy to eat?

    Always easier to eat something when:
    -I knew the cal count

    If that wasn't an option, easier to eat things for which:
    -I could see all of the ingredients.

    If that wasn't an option, easier to eat things when:
    -prepared by someone I trust.

    And, sometimes, when my meal plan got so high that I had to have high calorie add ons (like a milk shake or a smoothie every day or a pastry or something like that), it was definitely way easier to order it out and not look while they were making it versus making it at home and witnessing how much cream/ice cream (calories!) I was eating.

    In the ED, it's easier to eat low-calorie-dense items b/c they "last longer" in terms of minutes it takes to eat. But in recovery, when your'e really committed to a meal plan but the eating is hard and the feeling of fullness is hard, it's easier to eat calorie-dense things b/c there's less buldge in your stomach afterwards and less bites you have to take. Now, I don't really care calorie dense or not calorie dense... it's just what I crave. But, as a recovered person, I definitely eat more calorie dense things than I used to - by far.

    Q: Things I use to prepare my food:
    I own all of the above, and I use all of the above. I eat a ton of rice - so the rice cooker is a big one. I pack my food so warm up my food at work all the time in a microwave. When I'm starving and want a big meal, I call a friend and go out to a restaurant. I sometimes make breakfast sandwiches with the panini maker.

    Hope this helps... let me know if you need any clarificaiton.

    1. Thanks, Laura, for taking the time for such a comprehensive reply. Much appreciated. And congrats for how well you're doing!

  3. Hi,
    Safest foods for me are those that are pre-packaged or easily measured out. I have a hard time trusting my own hunger and fullness signals so following a food plan that has exact portions (1/2 cup rice, tb pb, etc) takes the guess work and guilt out of eating. It is on my plan, my RD said I have to eat it, it is out of my hands. I also like food with minimal ingredients and "healthy" food like whole grain breads and veggies are much easier for me than a candy bar or processed food. I tend to stick with the same foods too. I know they are "safe" and it is easier for me to eat the same thing each day. The scariest thing for me is "family style" dining. I want everything portioned out for me so I don't have to make decisions.
    I do own a crockpot and microwave. I make quite a bit of meals for my kids and husband in the crockpot because I don't have to come in contact as much with food. I still have trouble preparing meals. I make most of my own meals in the microwave. I heat up beans, frozen vegetables, rice, etc. The quicker it is for me to prepare food, the less panicked I get about eating.

  4. What are the safest foods for you to eat? Proteins, fruits, or veggie exchanges. Food that comes with nutrition information (e.g. protein bars, yogurt, etc.) that is exact so I don't have to guess (I'd rather know I'm eating 100 calories of whole grain bread than guess that I'm eating 60 calories of carrot sticks). My essential "safe" staples are vanilla Greek yogurt, apples, and dried fruit.

    What are the characteristics of a food that makes it easy to get in? If it's calorically-dense, I'd rather drink it (Ensure, Boost, other supplements, etc.). I don't like food that "shines" (implying grease). I also don't like food that requires a lot of preparation--too much time spent thinking about it! If I haven't prepared it myself or haven't seen the packaging it comes in, I won't eat it.

    I often microwave or use a panini press because they're quick. The less time I have to spend thinking about food and what I'm about to eat, the better. I would never call someone and ask them to bring me food--I would start worrying that they added something to it or brought the wrong thing (or that they think I'm a cow for needing to eat).

    1. "I'd rather know I'm eating 100 calories of whole grain bread than guess that I'm eating 60 calories of carrot sticks" <--I completely agree. That's how I was too.

  5. I agree with the rather knowing that I am eating 100 calories of ww bread than guess that I am eating 60 calories of carrot sticks. I completely understand about telling someone I need food or am hungry. To me that feels like I am a total failure and a fat cow. The guilt that goes along with needing to eat and eating is huge.

    1. That you for your sharing your very honest response. Much appreciated.

  6. My safe foods are any foods that have no or very few carbohydrates in them. Carbs have always been a pain point for me and I know that there is a direct relationship between overeating carbs and weight gain (or, conversely, weight loss when I avoid them).

    Of course, it's difficult to overeat high low-carb foods like chicken, beef, and vegetables...they don't have the same appeal in a binge.

    Great site!!

    1. I must beg to differ--there is NO direct link between carbs and weight gain, assuming we are looking at equal calories consumed from carbs, protein or fat. It is likely, however, that the way we consume many carb-containing foods, may lead to excessive portions. In contrast, we are not snacking on steak while we watch TV, for instance. And many of our high carb binge foods may be items that require mindful portioning. Consider reading some previous posts--why carbs got a bad rep and others. Thanks for your comment!

    2. Can I also add to this something that I learned at the ANZAED conference - that carbs are required in the synthesis (making) of serotonin in our brains. Our bodies NEED carbs. Which is why if we cut them out of our diet all together we crave them so much and end up binging on them.

    3. Absolutely true, PJ! yes, those carbs do the same thing as SSRI/antidepressants!

    4. I disagree.
      Before I discovered that it's the gluten thing, I wasn't eating bread and baked goods almost at all because it made me sick and I probably have a good and deeply ingrained Pavlovian reflex. I thus snack on meat quite a lot, all one needs to do is to dice it for easier consumption:D

    5. Needless to say, if you have a food allergy or a true intolerance to a nutrient those avoidance of those items is in your best interest!

  7. What are the safest foods for you to eat?
    Foods I know the exact calorie count of and low calorie foods. Steamed or raw vegetables, mostly. And low fat protein, like chicken breast and cottage cheese.

    What are the characteristics of a food that makes it easy to get in?
    I want my foods sugar-free, low carb, low calorie, high protein. I won't eat anything I didn't prepare or at least know the calorie count of.

    Which of the following, if any do you own? Do you use?
    I use the microwave fairly often. Usually to heat previously cooked food and to steam veggies.

  8. What are the safest foods for you to eat?

    - Raw veggies such as cut carrots, celery or cucumber
    - Salads with fat free dressing or balsamic vinegar. If I am eating a salad with a light enough dressing I feel confident enough to add some higher-calorie toppings like almond slivers, raisins or crumbled bacon.
    - High-protein pita bread
    - Kraft Fat Free Singles
    - Rye bread
    - Almond milk
    - Bran flakes (dry as a snack or with almond milk for breakfast). I usually prepare them with cut strawberries, blueberries or raisins.
    - Fat free yogurt
    - Green apples because they really fill me up in comparison to other fruits.
    - Cream of Wheat (porridge) with raisins, cut fruit, chopped nuts and almond milk. I take a long time preparing this 'gourmet' dish and usually eat it as an evening snack.
    - Plain oatmeal mixed with yogurt and banana (my 'safe' breakfast because I know that it is filling and tasty)
    - Lean meats like chicken, turkey or shrimp.

    In terms of preparation: very little sauce/ dressing. Almost no oil. I am uncomfortable with oil in cooking because it's very high calorie and I don't even notice if it's not used. I am often uncomfortable eating out or at other people's houses because of the indiscriminate amount of oil used.

    What are the characteristics of a food that makes it easy to get in?

    - I like everything prepared from scratch by me so that I know exactly what goes into making it.
    - I like foods that take a long time to prepare (lots of chopping, boiling, etc) so that I really get to enjoy the cooking process. I don't like ready-made items (even when they're healthy) because it feels like the meal is over too quickly.

    - Almost everything I eat is low fat, high fiber and whole grain.
    - I generally prefer high-fiber, low calorie foods that fill me up without making me feel guilty. I exercise frequently and sometimes feel extreme hunger that doesn't seem to go away no matter what I eat. Anything that fills me up without making me feel gross or guilty is a good food.

    - For some reason I can handle eating almonds and raisins, which are quite calorie dense. I think this is because of my belief that almonds are good for me.

    I own a slow cooker and a microwave. I have a George Foreman grill that I like for cooking meat. I also cook in my toaster oven more frequently than most people.

    Hope this helps.

    1. Very helpful--thank you. How would you describe where you are in your recovery? How would you say these choices contribute to your recovery? Thanks for taking the time respond!

  9. What are the safest foods for you to eat?
    Foods that I know the calorie count, or can look up the calorie count on line. I tend to eat minimally processed, pre packaged foods usually. Also vegetables, popcorn, frozen meals, granola bars. Basically anything that I can buy prepared or prepare myself. Not much cheese or dairy, not much sugar or carb-y dishes. No caloric drinks except beer or wine.

    What are the characteristics of a food that makes it easy to get in?
    If I know the nutrition facts, or if the dish contains mostly vegetables. Foods that make me feel full with out being weighed down. Things that are pre-portioned for me. Foods that aren't too rich (no creme based things, no oil based things).
    Also it depends on how much I've already eaten in the day. It's easier for me to eat more calorie dense foods at breakfast than at dinner.

    Which of the following, if any do you own? Do you use?
    I own a microwave and crock pot. My roommate has a rice cooker but I have yet to use it.

    Hope this helps. I enjoy your website a lot and it helps me from time to time!

  10. -Having fairly simple prep was always a big plus for me (either microwave or very simple stovetop).

    -As a college student, I pulled long days on campus and sometimes had a hard time finding food items to pack that needed refrigeration nor pre-consumption heating.

    -I found it extremely difficult to eat anything that someone else prepared for me. That was probably at least partly an artifact of ED thinking, of course, a big control issue, but it was what it was, and I would be way more likely to simply skip a meal if I didn't have the option to prepare it myself.

    -Packaged meals from the store were fine (or even preferable) as long as I knew the calorie count. Even if I knew that a food had less calories than my prescribed amount for a meal, just not knowing exactly how many were in it would cause me to severely restrict for the rest of the day.

    -I never had an appetite for large meals in the morning (was never a breakfast person even pre-ED), and feel uncomfortable going to bed very full, so I find it easiest to get full nutrition in if I make lunch the largest meal of the day.

    -Lean proteins were usually the least threatening thing for me (tuna, chicken breast, egg substitute). Raw fruits and veggies (except bananas, avocados, and other dense fruits) were always easiest, of course, and I did/do give them to myself as "freebies" in terms of calories, up to a point. I have a standard fresh fruit/vegetable allotment at each meal and I only count calories for fruit if I go beyond the usual.

    -I found it easiest to transition from egg substitute to real eggs by doing a mixture at first. I still cook with egg sub but now am comfortable eating real eggs by themselves, especially since I learned what a broad set of amino acids they offer relative to meats.

    I might have been unusual in that I never got wrapped up in specific unhealthy foods that were taboo, for me it was all a numbers game with the calories. So I wouldn't freak out about a Reese's peanut butter cup, for example, as long as it didn't put me over my calorie "budget". A result of that, though, was that I didn't stress over specific amounts of fat/sugar, but I often defaulted to fat-free and light versions of things just because it let me consume a larger volume of the food in an attempt to fill my starving belly.

    I'm super interested to see any materials that result from the project once you're finished! Will you be posting a link?

  11. So helpful--thank you, Cammy! It's impressive how much insight you have in your telling of your disordered thoughts and behaviors!
    I will absolutely be sharing about he project as it takes form.
    Thanks for reading, and for commenting.

  12. In my universe, the only really safe food is what I've cooked myself. Usually it's rice with vegetables and some soy derivate but I use various grains and legumes.
    I don't count calories and maybe it's a bad thing but it took me quite a time and energy to learn not to count calories. It has to look trustworthy and identifiably. For myself, I happily cook some grey goop but I wouldn't touch it elsewhere.
    We don't have any of the mentioned thingies but we do have a steam oven.

    To elaborate: I am a picky eater and I like to use good quality ingredients and I simply never know when it wasn't me who tossed them in the pot. Most often I cook very simply - rice, veggies, some soy derivate (someone called it zen diet), sometimes cheese, sometimes meat. Gluten-free, no bacon (my mom throws bacon into everything. She doesn't bake, luckily, bacon cheesecake would be too much, but she puts bacon in soups), no thickeners, minimum canned stuff etc. Maybe I'm a control freak.
    I prefer to eat alone. That way, I'm sure nobody can be looking at me, thinking something about that fat chick who is so fat and still dares to eat.
    It took me quite a time and energy to stop counting calories, I don't do it. I have some basic idea but I gladly don't bother with calculating how much a bowl of rice with whatever that was on sale in the veggie aisle today is.
    I have borked TMJs so I prefer my foods soft and in case of the solid ones, flat.
    For some reason, I like using bowls, not plates.

    I hope my impressions and tidbits help something.

    1. Clearly you're not alone regarding what's safe--including preference for using bowls vs plates.Thanks so much for contributing, Liisa. BTW, country you're from?

    2. That's interesting to learn that bowls are preferred among disordered eaters. I myself ascribe it to my preference of informal eating manners, which has, again, something to do with the context - the whole family around the table, someone pushing whatever condiment on me even though they know I wouldn't touch ketchup with a long stick, a need to actually show some table manners, I have yet to see paper napkins which are absorbent enough for greasy fingers... while bowl means that I can drink the broth and pick the veggies with a fork or chopsticks while wandering around. I'd love to hear more on the ways of serving foods etc. from the point of view of disordered eaters, it's pretty interesting.
      I'm from Czech Republic. Somewhere in Europe:D

      Also, one more thing occurred to me while writing this and nibbling on some eco-bio-vegan-fairtrade-living-whatevercrap chocolate. Bought it in the local treehugger store where I go for a choice of GF basics because I liked the wrapper. It's sort of rougher in texture and there are seeds in it. That brings me to a thought that I like pronouncedly textured foods because I can play with them. I can peel the layers, dig up the filling, let something dissolve in my mouth to get the seeds (or chopped mushroom or whatever) out.... It hadn't struck me before but I cook to get this effect, too. Soups with big chunks of meat one can fish out and devour separately, something with a crust and larger and smaller bits inside, homemade fries or baked potatoes where you can peel the surface and get the soft meat inside or you can bit off the tip and suck the starchy goodness out. I guess that sometimes I eat more for the textures and their contrasts than for actual taste.

      Funnily enough, these days, I'm buying ingredients and thinking what I would cook but I'm going through a bout of depression and I'm surviving on coffee, random bites of chocolate and figs. I like chewing on the fig seeds and the way they crack.

  13. The safest foods for me was anything I prepared myself. I am just starting to be able to eat some food people prepare for me. For instance, for dinner tonight I went to my grandmothers house and ate a full meal that she prepared. That was probably the first time I have done that in close to ten years. Other safe foods include oatmeal, fruit, luna bars, eggs, etc. I pretty much tried to find the lowest calorie version of foods available. I am just recently transitioning out of this and trying new things (ie I tried an avocado for the first time last week) I still struggle with using olive oil.

    As far as restaurants, I still have very few that are considered safe. I am working on expanding this list so that I can go to other restaurants and not panic. I find sushi and pizza to be safe, other than that nothing else at restaurants.

    I use my george forman grill, the frying pan (to cook eggs) and my microwave the most.

    I hope this helps. I really enjoy your blog. If you have any other questions let me know.

  14. I eat everything plain....veggies, meat, fish. I don't like added oil or butter or sauce. Part of that is because I don't know how many calories are in the "extras." When I was at my worst, everything was measured and I would not eat anything that I did not know the exact calories of. I carried around a little calorie counter book and a food notebook. Nothing went into my mouth that I could not accurately record. I also totally stayed away from cake, cookies, candy. One bite would make me feel guilty and awful. But I can eat sweets in small amounts now that I am actively working on my recovery. I have actually found that a small piece of cake satisfies me and I won't sit and keep eating it uncontrollably, which was a big fear of mine when I started recovery.

    Something that I did eat through my whole illness, strangely enough, was ice cream, but only a certain kind. I would have 1 serving of Edy's Slow Churned ice cream every night after dinner. I would not eat ice cream out because of lack of nutrition facts and high calories. (My therapist told me that she has many anorexia patients who found ice cream acceptable during their illnesses...kind of interesting!)

    I also like (need?) to be in control of my food preparation. I only recently starting eating at my mom's house without watching her cook the food. I can do this because she knows what my safe foods are and won't push the limit.

    Restaurants are anxiety inducing for 2 reasons: 1. I can't control the ingredients and preparation, so I don't know exactly how many calories are being served to me (control and fear of eating too much) 2. I have seen so many stories/articles/menus and I know how many calories and fat grams are in restaurant foods and it frightens me. Restaurants meals are not normal sized. I have only recently found 2 restaurants that I will eat at because they will make me plain fish and veggies.

    I eat the same thing (with maybe a fruit swap) every day for breakfast and lunch. It's easy because I don't have to think about the calories in something new. I'm mentioning calories a lot, but I don't count them anymore. So really it's more of sticking with safe things that I know are not "too much."

    I also tend to fill up on low calorie foods that will make me feel full, like veggies. I can eat a ridiculous amount of veggies in one sitting.

    I use a crockpot, but cook everything else on the stovetop, in the oven or on the grill. The microwave is really just for reheating leftovers. I don't like packaged and processed foods. I eat whole grains, fruits, veggies (often organic) and lean meats.

  15. Are you looking for input from recovered bulimics as well, or just those with anorexia?

  16. Bulimics welcome as well! As well as those recovered. Thanks for clarifying and looking forward to hearing your insights!

  17. I wrote a little too much so it has to be two comments...

    My safest foods have always been fruits, vegetables, and then if I was to have grains it would be whole grains/low cal grains. At this point in my recovery I love having avocado because it’s one of the few fat sources that don’t freak me out, I’ve also started to have nuts/nut butters because I know of the nutritional benefits.

    I think characteristics of food that make it easy to get in are low calorie density, low fat, high fiber/protein. I think all in one meals are a lot easier to get in than having a bunch of different side items. I find it to be a lot less overwhelming if everything is in front of me in one thing but, at the same time it can be really challenging if the portion size of the meal ends up appearing large since it includes everything I need for that meal.

    I won’t eat a food if I think it tastes bland. I think that if I’m going to have to eat it and consume the calories then it has to at least have some flavor to it. Along the same lines I have to be able to justify to myself what the nutrients are in the food and why I need it. I tend to go to recipe websites online in particular a vegan one that has single serving breakfast/lunch/dessert recipes posted along with the calorie information and it involves mostly whole grain/natural ingredients with fat free options. I love cooking but get overwhelmed when multiple servings would be created even if I separate it right away afterwards. I don't like thinking of drinking supplemental drinks at all because there are too many ingredients/calories/taste bland. If I need to supplement I tend to use protein powder, almond milk, frozen bananas, and then whatever else I feel like adding to have it be a similar calorie content of the nutritional supplements but it tastes a lot better and more natural (plus it feels more normal rather than feeling like people are judging me when I would buy boost/ensure).

    I don’t really like getting frozen meals but I know that I have them as a last resort when the last thing I want to do is make something to eat or think about cooking. It’s easy when I don’t feel like dealing with the whole process and I can just sit there and go through the motions to get through the meal.

    I don’t really trust if someone else has been able to eat it because I have the irrational fear that everybody else can eat all different types of food but if I do I will immediately balloon into a whale. So it doesn’t really matter what other people have. It’s more the nutrients that are important to me.

    I have all of the things you listed. I don’t really use the crockpot, I think it can be overwhelming to make the recipes because they tend to be for a large number of servings so it’s a lot of food. But, at the same time if I know I can share it with my family then I like to make it because raw meat freaks me out and I can just toss it in there, and most of the recipes don’t involve that much oil if any to be added. I haven’t used my rice cooker in ages but it helped when I was at school – it also helped me make friends because my aunt taught me how to make a cake in it in the microwave, everyone on my hall loved it =)

    I haven’t used my Panini maker too much frequently but I like using it when I feel like I need some variety or something exciting. I like to experiment with different concoctions that I can make that fulfill most aspects of my meal plan. I end up making really cool veggie burger paninis or ones with a bunch of different vegetables and fresh mozzarella or just a variety of different things I brew up. I like my foods to be really warm or hot and so I like that with the Panini maker my sandwiches are hot.

    1. I have a microwave and use it mainly just for frozen meals. I also tend to use it to heat my food up because after my family has gotten their food too I feel like mine is cold. I will also use it to microwave apples and then add cinnamon and walnuts. I tend to try and make ways of eating my foods more diverse and interesting so that it doesn’t seem so boring and mundane.

      I don’t think I would every telephone someone and ask them to bring me something. I get really self-conscience thinking that people are going to judge me on what I eat. If I go to a certain place to get food I am usually really picky and get different substitutions and what not. I would be embarrassed to tell a family member/friend about it and would probably be worried that they’d mess it up. One exception would probably be Panera where I know the calorie counts, know what foods I’m safe with, and think it would be pretty hard to mess it up.

      Also, random side not – I have had ice cream all throughout my anorexia like someone else mentioned. I actually got an ice cream maker recently because I thought it would allow me to make my own ice cream and then I could control what ingredients go in it and the ingredient list wouldn’t be 10,000 items long. But, I’ve experienced difficulty in that if I want to make it creamy it’s all high calorie/high fat stuff and it’s hard to make it light to have the same consistency as the ice cream in the stores because you can’t use all the preservatives/additives.

      I'm excited to take anatomy and physiology next semester because I think it's important to learn why our bodies need certain foods/nutrients especially ones that scare a lot of people (fats, carbs).

    2. Thanks Michelle. I so appreciate your detailed response to my query!

  18. Thank you for this ! Seriously useful info.

    I have bookmarked this and i also am looking forward to reading new articles.

    Keep up the great job!

  19. Among the benefits of all of your very honest and candid responses is the support it gives others when they recognize that they are not alone in their thoughts and behaviors. Even patients who have been in eating disorder treatment programs have been struck by these comments, because they were unaware that their experiences were not uncommon until now.

    I hope no one has been triggered by this sharing. This information will be used to support recovery in an upcoming project.

    1. This has not been triggering at all for me. Actually, it has been interesting to read what other people do that is both similar and different than me. Through my recovery, I have not been in groups or even met other people with anorexia. I have found the comments enlightening and almost normalizing for me. (Not in an "anorexia is normal so I should continue" sort of way, but rather in a way that makes me see that there are other people out there who struggle with the same things.) It also helps me to recognize some of our ED behaviors that are kind of wacky! It gives me some insight into what non-ED people think when they see my behaviors. I think it helps to put some perspective on my thoughts and allows me to see that some of my thoughts and behaviors continue to be ED, instead of rationalizing them as my normal and therefore acceptable.

    2. I agree that this hasn't been triggering for me either. I have been in groups with and keep in touch with others who have eds as well. The conversations we have are often much more 'graphic' (not really sure if that's the right word) than this is.

      I have also wondered what people without eating disorders think of all of this. Reading other posts I too see the "wacky" behaviors, or how distorted my own behaviors were, but I also get it. I can relate to the experience. I would love to know what reading this is like for someone who has never had the experience of doing odd things with food, or how they would understand our justifications for what is "safe."

  20. Thanks a lot for this thread. I read it a few days ago and was contemplating coming up with a response. I have recently had a little bit of a slip after doing well in recovery for the past few months. Reading through the comments left on here has made me really see how far I have come. Looking back to when I was deep into the ED I subscribed to a lot of calorie counting, "safe" foods and a lot of other of the things mentioned in these comments. I am not trying to make anyone feel bad by posting this, but it's reading these comments that gives me the motivation to want to try to get out of this hole that I have slipped into.

    A few weeks ago I was able to enjoy a variety of foods, restaurants with my boyfriend and even spontaneous cookie baking without guilt, calorie counting etc.

    So although this doesn't really answer any of your questions, I really want to thank you for this post.


  21. Safest foods for me to eat... this is a tricky one because I have been blessed with a plethora of food allergies, including gluten and several veggies, which, when you pair up with the fact that I've been a vegetarian for 20+ years, complicates things.

    Safest foods include one brand of GF bread and cereal, one brand of almond milk, one brand of pre-packaged pizza, and one brand of pre-packaged GF meals. All clearly list the calorie count and allergen information. This makes it a little less intense for me, as I have to determine the calorie count and ensure the allergen information before I eat anything. I need foods that I can trust won't make me physically ill but will satisfy my meal plan, which means I need foods with familiar or easily findable calorie counts so I can make sure I'm eating the amount I'm supposed to each day. I prefer to eat only food I prepare, or food from a select few "safe" restaurants and friend's houses. I always bring a lunch to work, never go out, always bring my own snacks and meals to workshops, etc. This is partially to ensure I don't eat any foods I'm allergic to, but also because then I know the portion size is accurate and won't feel uncomfortable eating the foods.

    Foods that are easiest for me to eat are the safe foods listed above, and oatmeal is always a fall back for me. I like the simplicity of pre-portioned foods that I've prepared, or a trusted friend has prepared, because then I don't need to think about putting a balanced, calorically appropriate meal together. Among my allergies are several seasoning, so flavor needs to be pretty basic. Early on in my recovery I preferred a larger, one-item meal, but now that I'm further along, I am trying to incorporate smaller portions with a larger variety at each meal. Instead of just having a PB&J sandwich and a glass of milk for lunch, I now have a smaller sandwich, and incorporate two small sides along with my milk.

    I own and frequently use a microwave. I do not own any of the other items as I don't think I would be able to find enough ways to use them - most crock pot meals, as nice as that would be, include too many foods I'm allergic to.

  22. Hi Laura,

    I very much enjoy your blog – I hope you know what a difference you are making to those who suffer from eating disorders. I’ve suffered for about 11 years now and have been yoyo-ing recovery for the past seven. I still have hard days, but I continue to work on being healthy every day. Anyways, I’m happy to provide insight for your project!

    Safest foods to eat:
    Fruit and vegetables I’ve labeled as foods that “don’t count.” That is, they don’t count toward my total calorie intake for the day. They’re the safest and I can rationalize out of the ‘guilty’ feelings because they’re so incredibly healthy. Protein also sometimes fits into this category, but not always for some reason. Awhile back, I had a dietitian who really drove in the fact that I needed to increase my protein. After that, I’ve been extremely conscious about how much protein I’m getting and so foods that contain a lot of it are easier for me to eat.

    As with many of the other responses – food I’ve prepared myself (which probably only feeds into my need for control, but that’s how it is).

    I also find that foods such as Lean Cuisine meals are particularly easy for me. They’re filling and a warm meal (instead of eating random snacks in place of a meal). I sometimes get anxious/overwhelmed while at work and if I bring a sandwich or something, it’s easy to eat at my desk in an unhealthy way, feel guilty and revert back to unhealthy behaviors. With the microwave meals, I have to physically go into our dining area, sit down at a table and think about what I’m eating. Plus, they’re complete meals with protein, grains and vegetables and I know how many calories are in each (sadly, I’m still holding onto this aspect of this silly eating disorder).

    You mentioned the flavor of food. I have to say I’m much more comfortable with blander food. I guess I think it has less butter and thus fewer calories in it?? Also, I think it has something to do with the self-value factor. Two negative thoughts I have sometimes are, “Nicole, you don’t deserve to have something that tastes good.” Or “If it tastes good, you won’t be able to stop eating it.”

    Hope this helps.

  23. * What are the safest foods for you to eat?
    All types of fruit, skim organic milk, fat free greek yogurt or low fat, shredded wheat cereal, no salt, fish, veggies, bread but fresh baked, cottage cheese low salt only, rice, pasta, oatmeal plain

    * What are the characteristics of a food that makes it easy to get in?
    o Ready made? Sometimes
    o All-in-one-dish recipes? Yes
    o Low Fat? High Fiber? Whole grain? Yes
    o The flavor or lack thereof? No
    o Portion size? Yes
    o Calorie-dense or low calorie density? low cal
    o Trusting because someone else has been able to eat it? No I dont trust
    o Trusting because you believe it to be good for you? Yes

    * Which of the following, if any do you own? Do you use?
    o Crock pot/slow cooker? No
    o Rice cooker? No
    o Panini/sandwich maker? No
    o Microwave YES!
    o Telephone (to have someone else bring you food?) YEs

  24. What are the safest foods for you to eat?
    -Foods with nutrition labels- this has a lot to do with how guilty I feel. Although it is irrational- if something doesn’t have a label I always try to overestimate.
    -Lean Protein-Skinless Chicken, Turkey (lunch meat or prepared from a raw state)
    -Fruit, Veggies
    -Low-Fat Dairy (Non-fat Yogurt, sometimes skim milk, greek yogurt)
    -Breakfast- Oatmeal, eggs, or toast with peanut butter. I can easily binge on most other breakfast foods (bingeing for me is about the simple carbs)
    -Sandwich Thins- these are a staple!
    -I love the veggies that are frozen and come in a package that can be steamed in the microwave- same goes for whole grain rice.

    What are the characteristics of a food that makes it easy to get in?
    Ready made?
    -Originally, I loved the “diet” frozen dinners. Now in the journey of recovery I prefer to eat less processed foods that require me to actually THINK about what I’m eating.

    Low Fat?
    -YES- I look at calories then fat. They do go together!

    High Fiber?
    -YES- for a while I was obsessed with fiber. I probably had over 40g of fiber a day. As unpleasant as it sounds when I wasn’t eating a lot I go constipated…. I needed the fiber and lots of it!

    Portion size?
    -I weigh out my snacks, sometimes my meat- this is something I have been working on leaving behind me.

    Calorie-dense or low calorie density?
    -Low Cal

    Trusting because you believe it to be good for you?
    -Peanut butter is a great example. It was banned in my head for the longest time until my RD suggested that I would feel full longer and have healthy fats that my brain needed. I prefer natural PB, I don’t have bingeing problems like I do with the more processed ones.

    Which of the following, if any do you own? Do you use?
    o Crock pot/slow cooker?- 1st time the other day.
    o Rice cooker? Nope
    o Panini/sandwich maker? Nope
    o Microwave- Yes, my fave
    o Telephone (to have someone else bring you food?)- Nope, I’m a coupon girl, too expensive.
    o Toaster- My loaves of bread are frozen because I had trouble eating it fast enough before it got moldy. It’s a ritual for any deli sandwich I make too. I don’t enjoy cold bread so much.
    o George Foreman- Love making chicken on this! Just got a new one with the plates can go in the dishwasher. :)

  25. I find things I can classify as "healthy" are easiest to not feel guilty about.

    One thing in particular I actually just realized reading this is how my breakfasts have shifted: when I was sick I'd eat plain oatmeal with a little bit of fat free yogurt. The first time I put fruit and nuts in my oatmeal it made me anxious the whole morning, but it's definitely something I've made into a fun project as I've gotten better--I still eat oatmeal every morning (so that feels safe) but I've started getting really creative with it, so I'll add fruit, nuts, PB, etc. and for the most part that doesn't feel too scary anymore.

    With other meals, I find whole grains, lots of veggies, and lean protein to be the easiest. I've joked with my mom I'm probably the only person whose nutritionist tells her to eat LESS vegetables... I cook for myself, and definitely prefer to cook single portions, except for soups, which I make in the crock pot and portion out into sack-lunch containers right away.

    The best way I've found to get healthy fats/oils in is peanut butter or nuts, because deliberately putting oil into things seems insane. I'm much more "ok" with eating a piece of homemade whole wheat bread with peanut butter than store white bread with butter, even if it's more calories and I don't know exactly how many.

    I don't have a microwave, rice cooker, or panini maker. I do have a crock pot and a bread machine (both from salvation army). I love the bread machine because then I KNOW exactly what's in my bread and it's not xantham gum or unidentifiable chemicals, which seems healthier and easier.

    I like cooking, and don't mind the prep time on an ED level, but I'm a really busy grad student so not TOO much prep time.

  26. I have never been diagnosed with an eating disorder. I don't calorie count. I do however think about what I eat frequently, plan my meals and become nervous/uncomfortable in certain situations involving food.

    I won't go to a restaurant without knowing what I will order ahead of time. I want anything that I eat to be "worth" the calories. So if I am going to eat out - I better get something I want!

    I eat a lot of similar things (I can tell myself that if it hasn't made me put on weight so far there is no reason it should start to).

    I need to prepare my own food to feel 100% comfortable. I don't measure anything, but seeing the amount of oil, cheese, etc. is added to my meal makes me feel at ease. I won't even let my boyfriend prepare my meals for me for fear that he will add too much of something.

    I like low calorie, high fiber, low sugar food, and low saturated/trans fat foods. Also, I don't like food high in sodium - so prepackaged foods are usually out for me. I feel most comfortable eating non processed foods. I like my food to taste fresh - if I am eating vegetables I don't want them swimming in butter or some salty sauce - I want to taste the vegetables. Same with fruit - it is sweet enough to me, so why do I need to add sugar to an apple or strawberries?

    I love to cook so I use it all the gadgets except for the microwave and telephone :)

  27. Food I've prepared myself.
    Low-cal, low-fat, not a zillion carbs.
    high protein, like egg whites and greek yogurt.
    portion size
    fruits, veggies, high fiber, low sodium.
    homemade soup
    Those are all my safe foods.

    I have a crock pot, microwave, telephone, george foreman, toaster