making food choices in recovery (Q&A pt. 4)

Grocery shopping is a great challenge in recovery—indeed, quite overwhelming. Now that the eating disorder no longer determines what is allowed in the shopping cart, you can theoretically pack everything. But the choices are endless. You want to take the best and not waste any money as well. And at the same time, there is also that queasy feeling when you put something in the shopping trolley that would have never been there before. Indecisiveness in recovery is a big topic – so let’s just talk about making food choices in recovery.

Hi, do you have any tips on how to decide what to eat? Whenever I go grocery shopping, I go into a sort of shock state and am unable to make up my mind. I have to choose between so many things: pumpkin buns, bagels, ciabatta, pastries, sandwiches, wraps,... My brain wants everything. And at the same time somehow nothing, because I'm afraid. Do you have any tips?

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the supermarket - a place of many challenges

Shopping can be stressful and overwhelming. Stressors and challenges are waiting around every corner. Not to mention that most of the time when you had an eating disorder, the supermarket was a place where you would spend hours just looking at all the food and dreaming of eating it all. Challenges you may have to face whilst grocery shopping may be:

  • the abundance of different foods and varieties
  • resisting the temptation to read nutritional information and choose products based on that, even if it’s not necessarily the option you would have taken if calories weren’t an issue
  • Phrases and slogans stemming from the diet culture that could trigger eating disorder thoughts and behaviours
  • Products associated with binge episodes or fear foods
  • the feeling of being watched/judged by others for putting something “unhealthy” in the shopping cart
  • Other people shopping at the same time – comments they make and what they might put in THEIR cart
  • At the same time having to deal with the stressors that come from the eating disorder AND with the external stressors (light, noise, …).

Why the abundance mindset matters

The abundance mindset can help us with making food choices in recovery. But what do I mean by “abundance mentality”? Simply said it is the opposite of a “shortage mentality”. In the eating disorder we create deficits for ourselves by forbidding ourselves certain things and calling ourselves “not good enough”. Often when we have an eating disorder, we are even convinced that we do not deserve anything good.

Unentschlossenheit in der Recovery | making food choices in recovery

In the abundance mentality, on the other hand, we assume that there are enough resources out there for all of us and that they are accessible to us. Studies have even been able to show that different areas are active in the decision-making process, depending on whether we have an abundance or deficiency mentality. In terms of food, this means making sure our body is confident that there is always enough food and not having to hoard it ahead of time/ eat it all at once. We give ourselves unconditional permission to eat. Everything that can be bought in the supermarket, we can actually take with us. And not just today – but for the rest of your life. Do you feel what this triggers in you?

It means that you don’t have to take everything with you today. I mean you could – but what is the point of it? Because your unconditional permission to eat doesn’t have an expiration date, you can try one thing at a time at the grocery store and find out what you like and what you don’t like. You don’t lose anything even if you take something with you that you ended up not liking, it wasn’t wasted – you’ve learned something new and can try something different next time. Not every meal or snack needs to be perfect. Whatever that perfect is supposed to be anyways.

Unentschlossenheit in der Recovery | indecisiveness in recovery | making food choices in recovery

10 tips for making food choices in recovery

  1. Plan your shopping trip: where, when, what challenges could you face and how can you successfully master them?
  2. Make a list of things you want/need to buy. It’s always good to go shopping with a rough idea of ​​what you plan to eat in the next few days. Use Pinterest or cookbooks as inspiration (no full day of eatings!)
  3. set a time limit for how long you want to spend in the supermarket. But don’t plan too tightly, or your eating disorder could force you to leave the store before you even have everything in the car.
  4. Don’t make it harder for yourself than it already is and ignore the nutrient tables

5. go shopping with someone
6. if you can’t decide, then play “ene-mene-muh”
7. take what you would take if calories weren’t a matter
8. dare to try new things, even if you don’t know if you like it at all.
9. save your money and don’t spend it on “diet” products, “light” products, “protein bars/powders”… and instead buy real food that is more filling and much more satisfying.
10. Allow yourself to spend money on yourself. You’re worth it.

I hope these tips will help you making food choices in recovery. Making decisions is uncomfortable, but you’ll find that once you’ve made a decision, no matter what you choose, the mental tension eases.

making food choices in recovery
making food choices in recovery | Unentschlossenheit in der Recovery | indecisiveness in recovery
6 1 making food choices in recovery (Q&A pt. 4)


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rund um das Thema Genesung von Essstörungen, Intuitives Essen oder "Health at every size"/ eating disorder recovery related, about intuitive eating or health at every size.
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