Recovering from an eating disorder includes re-learning not only how to eat appropriately, but everything else that goes along with feeding yourself, too. Buying groceries, cooking, meal planning, meal prep... it can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! In this blog series, I break these things down to make them simple and approachable. I will also provide Recipes for Recovery, recovery-ready recipes that aren’t tainted with diet culture shenanigans. No “healthified” recipes here, just lots of variety and no judgements! Some things you have to look forward to in posts to come:
Meal Planning 101
10 Foods You Should Always Have in Your Kitchen
Grocery Shopping Survival Guide
The Do's and Don'ts of Meal Prepping
Tips and Tricks for Eating Out
Snacks are Self-Care
Why is Cooking So Stressful?
Holiday Survival Guide
Traveling Tips and Tricks
Flexibility vs. Balance: What should we be focusing on?
Recipes for Recovery 001: Overnight Oats
“I like breakfast-time better than any other moment in the day. No dust has settled on one's mind then, and it presents a clear mirror to the rays of things.”
Breakfast, the most important meal of the day! And also the most skipped. Society has normalized the “coffee for breakfast” routine, but I am happy to see that this trend is on it’s way out, and more people are embracing the idea of starting their day with a nourishing meal. This is especially important for those in recovery from eating disorders since we ask our patients to commit to starting their day with a balanced meal. There is a reason most meal plans call for 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day. This serves an important function for our physical body by keeping hunger and fullness stable without the “peaks and valleys” that encourage chaotic food patterns. Without a timely or balanced breakfast we are essentially waking up in the “valley of doom”. This is why Integrated Eating’s Rule Number One is to eat within an hour of waking up and every 3-4 hours from afterward. Your meal plan acts as a manual reset for hunger and fullness cues, and skipping breakfast is the best way to throw them off.
So why then is this sacred act of “breaking the fast” so often skipped or skimped? One roadblock I hear my clients say often is that they’re not hungry in the morning or don’t have an appetite first thing in the morning. I always use my cat Simon as an example for this is not a valid reason to bypass breakfast.
Before I moved to NYC he was on a strict 6:00am breakfast schedule. He became so accustomed to it that I wouldn’t even have to set an alarm because he would meow in my face at 6:00am (on the dot!) to let me know it was breakfast time. But when I moved my new schedule allowed me to sleep in (to a whopping 7:00am), so Simon’s breakfast time got pushed back an hour as I continued snoozing. At first, he was not happy about waiting an extra hour to eat, but within a week or two he got used to the new schedule. Last time I checked cats can’t tell time! Instead, it was his body (and his hunger cues) letting him know it was time to eat. Now I have my trusty 7:00am meowing alarm clock set daily.
The point of this story is to illustrate how the body responds to the information it is given. You may not have those early morning hunger cues right now, but if you follow your meal plan, soon those cues will show up and be aligned with your body’s nutritional needs. It’s like magic- although we do make a bit of room for them, just like Simon, to not be so happy at first about the adjustment.
Another common reason people struggle with breakfast is due to lack of planning, sleeping in, and rushing out the door. For this reason, easy breakfasts are a recovering person’s best friend. And my personal favorite grab-and-go breakfast is none other than Overnight Oats. You can quickly whip them up the night before. They are simple, have all necessary meal components (carbs, protein, fats, oh my), and are a fun (and simple) way to experiment with new ingredients in a familiar way. In the recipe below you will notice I avoided using exact measurements. This is one of those recipes in which estimates work just fine, so don’t overthink it and work those eyeballing skills!
Prep time: 10 minutes
❏ Honey/Maple syrup
❏ Nut Butter
1. In an 8 oz. Mason jar put:
About 1 cup oats (can be rolled, old fashioned, or steel cut works great too! As long as they are not quick or instant oats you are good to go!)
About ¾ cup milk (cow’s, almond, oat, soy, whatever your heart desires!)
A dollop of Greek yogurt (get that protein baby!)
A few dashes of cinnamon
A nice long squirt of honey or maple syrup
2. Stir well, put on the lid and place it in the refrigerator overnight!
3. In the morning add your toppings:
Fruit of your choice (bananas and blueberries are my favorite)
A nice big dollop of any nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, even cookie butter!)
Other fun additions: chocolate chips, granola, nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, dry fruit. Go ahead, get creative!
4. Enjoy! Don’t forget to check in with your RD to assure this breakfast meets your meal plan. If not, you can grab a bigger container so you may more comfortably add another dollop of Greek yogurt, more nut butter, additional toppings, an extra drizzle of honey, or double the fruit!