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Seven Tips for Meal Planning in Eating Disorder Recovery

Fail to plan is a plan to fail especially in terms of a meal plan. I have been talking to many clients this week about how following your meal plan is so much easier when you plan ahead. Of course, mentally it can be hard to fight your eating disorder and meet all of your exchanges, but logistically planning out your meals for the week can help you get one step closer to making it a reality. Particularly on weeks when you are busy, having a plan in place will help you prioritize your recovery.

I want to note that your recovery is your top priority and should not be set aside for anything, however we do want to see you living your life and doing what you love whether a parent, working full time, a college student living outside the home, or a high school student with various after school commitments here are some tips for following your meal plan when you are busy.

Talk to your loved ones.

It can help to be on the same page with others in your household so you can plan accordingly to meet your meal plan and not be thrown for any surprises. Perhaps mom/dad or your loved one would be willing to plan out some meals together and therefore you can fill in the gaps to help you meet all your exchanges (dairy, fat, etc) if the meal prepared for you does not include it. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help or suggest ideas as well depending on your recovery plan with the treatment team.

meal planning meal plan

Fill in any gaps to meet your exchanges

Rely on one pot/one pan meals.

These have been my go-to dinners as of late, nothing too complicated, and everything goes in one dish. Some of the meals I have made include:

  • Sausage, peppers and onions (served with bread & parmesan cheese)
  • Chicken thighs, Brussels sprouts and potatoes (all baked together in one pan-topped with olive oil and shredded cheese)
  • Italian meatloaf muffins (your favorite meatloaf recipe in a muffin tin) paired with various sides

meatloaf muffin tins

“Plan” breakfast and lunch.

I used to always plan out dinners but was able to be more flexible with breakfast and lunch, now I plan those too.

  • Breakfast:

    • My go to has been overnight oats- combine an even ratio of oats and milk/yogurt and I add peanut butter and cinnamon to mine. You can store in the fridge overnight (hence the name) and I usually make 3-4 at a time and find they hold up great!
  • Lunch:

    • This week has been chicken Caesar salads –using store bought Caesar dressing, croutons and pre-cooked chicken breast, these have been so easy to put together! I also love adding parmesan cheese and olives and whatever snacks/sides I have on hand.
    • Another go to is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches- again making a few at a time and putting the jelly in between the two layers of PB on each slice of bread prevents any sogginess.

Always have extra things with you.

At the beginning of the week aside from packing my usual breakfast, lunch and snacks I always throw a few extra snacks into my work bag as backup. You never know when hunger strikes or you get stuck at work longer than you think! In my bag I have:

  • Kind bars
  • Chocolate covered almonds
  • Trail mix
  • Peanut butter M&M’s (are you sensing a theme?)
  • Pretzels
snacks meal plan

Have a few snacks to grab when hunger strikes

Stick to a schedule of eating.

It does help to have routine in your recovery so weekend or weekday it can be beneficial to eat around the same times each day to not leave room for any confusion or variation. Now that it is summer your schedule may be different so talk to your treatment team about a plan for this time of year.

meal plan

Plan ahead to reduce confusion/variation

Meet weekly with your treatment team.

Speaking of your team this is why it is so important to have (at least) one session per week so you can talk about what is coming up ahead of time. Perhaps outside of your normal routine you also have a graduation party to attend or family is coming over for dinner and you are eating at a different time than usual. Bring up these unique situations so your team can help you.

empowered eating team

Empowered Eating Dietitians


To reiterate the important statement above, your recovery should always be the first priority and certain things may have to take a back seat. Yet as you progress further along in treatment we love to see you add all your activities into your life and having a busy schedule is hard to avoid. Remember these tips to help you continue to strive in your recovery and avoid setbacks.

For help with your eating disorder recovery and working with a meal plan that meets your needs contact the Empowered Eating dietitians for an appointment by clicking here or calling (240) 670-4675.

Blog originally written by Kait Fortunato, RD, LD, CEDRD. Edits by Rebecca Bitzer, MS, RD, LD, CEDRD.