Binge Eating Disorder Recovery Meal Plan

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If you think you may have an eating disorder it is important to seek advice from your GP or health professional. The information in this blog post is intended for information purposes only and is not a substitute for personalised clinical advice. 

Looking for a binge eating disorder recovery meal plan? It can be hard to know what you are supposed to be eating when recovering from bingeing. Having some examples can help you to adapt guidelines to meet your own unique nutritional needs.

This post will talk about why it is important to eat regularly, address structure and portion sizes, trigger foods, and example meal plans.

What is binge eating disorder?

Binge eating disorder is an under-recognised eating disorder that has a significant impact on people’s mental and physical wellbeing.

People with binge-eating disorder experience frequent and recurrent episodes of bingeing.

During a binge the person will eat a very large amount of food, in a short period of time (2 hours or less) and experience a sense of having lost control over their eating.

Unlike bulimia, there are no extreme compensatory behaviours used (e.g., vomiting, laxatives, fasting). However, it is common for people to get stuck in a cycle of dieting and binging.

You can read more about what binge eating disorder is here.  

Binge eating disorder recovery meal plan

Before you make any changes to your eating you should consult your GP or health professional. The information in this post is generic and does not take into your account your personal circumstances. In some scenarios it can be very dangerous to make rapid changes to your eating (e.g., if you are very underweight, diabetic), so it is very important to speak to a medical professional first.

Importance of regular eating

Eating regularly is the first step towards repairing your relationship with food. To recover from binge eating disorder you need a solid nutritional base. Regular eating involves giving up dieting and eating 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day.

One of the biggest causes for binging is under-eating. Regular eating addresses this by allowing you to eat enough food at regular intervals through-out the day. When you are dieting, or delaying eating, your blood sugar levels become unstable. When blood sugar drops very low your body will drive you towards eating (e.g., hunger, preoccupation with food) and make you much more likely to binge.

In order to overcome the emotional causes for binge eating, we need to work with your body. Tackling the biological drives to eat first, gives you the best possible platform for the rest of your recovery.

Not aiming for weight loss

Therapy for binge eating disorder is unlikely to have any impact on your weight. We are not aiming for weight loss in this phase of treatment. Recovering from an eating disorder, and weight loss, are incompatible goals.

If it is medically indicated for you to reduce your body weight, this can be addressed after you have recovered from binge-eating disorder. Addressing the reasons why you are dieting might change your perspective on weight loss, however. If you are within the healthy weight range, an important question to ask yourself is why you feel you need to change your body in the first place.

Principles to follow

Structure

Your meal plan should have a loose structure of 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day. These should be spread evenly through-out the day so that you aren’t going more than 3-4 hours between eating (except overnight).

This structure will help keep your blood sugar stable and help prevent you from becoming vulnerable to binging.

Portion sizes

When you have an eating disorder, it can be difficult to know how much you should be eating. We get a lot of conflicting messages about food from the diet industry and health organisations. Exact portion sizes will vary depending on your unique needs but there are some broad principles that can be followed.

I generally recommend people buy some simple measuring tools, such as American measuring cups, tablespoons, and teaspoon measures. If you have previously been weighing your food, these provide a transition step between exact weighing and free serving.

These documents will provide an overview of nutrition guidelines and portion sizes for different foods:

CBT-T Real Food Guide

CCI Eating for Recovery

FREED Eating with Confidence

Food groups

Your meal plan should include all the main food groups. Sometimes people try to avoid certain food groups, or types of food, because they worry that this will makes them more likely to binge or gain weight.

The most common food group I see people try to avoid is carbohydrates. When you stop eating carbohydrates its common to initially see the number on the scale go down. This is primarily due to depleting the glucose stores in your body, and dehydration.

Avoiding carbohydrates makes you more likely to have unstable blood sugar and this will, in turn, make you more likely to binge.

Make sure each meal has a good balance between carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and vegetables.

Binge trigger foods

Some people find that certain food is more likely to trigger a binge for them. These tend to be carbohydrate-based foods (e.g., bread, crisps, ice-cream), but not necessarily all the time.

If you have stopped dieting and are allowing yourself to eat a variety of foods, including those you would previously have avoided, you might find that your trigger foods no longer cause you to binge.

Try experimenting with adding these foods back in at planned times, such as a snack or a planned meal out. Do they still trigger a binge or are you able to eat them without bingeing?

If you do binge, try not to beat yourself up. This is an opportunity to learn more about how the eating disorder is working in daily life. Were you particularly stressed that day?  Tired? Were you trying to soothe some difficult emotions?

Try waiting until you have had a few weeks without bingeing and then re-introduce trigger foods once again. It is best not to avoid trigger foods entirely as having food rules tends to increase people’s risk of bingeing in the long term.

Example binge eating disorder recovery meal plans  

These example meal plans are adapted from the CBT-T Real Food Guide, CCI Eating for Recovery, and FREED Eating with Confidence guides.

I am not a dietitian. These meal plans are intended for example purposes only, as part of a varied diet. If you have special dietary needs, consider consulting a registered dietitian.  

The timings are for example purposes and are not intended to be strictly adhered to.

If you still feel hungry, increase your portion size and/or include an additional snack. The aim at this stage is to maintain your weight and give you freedom to tackle any emotional causes for bingeing.

With each meal and snack have a drink (e.g., water, tea, coffee).

3 snack meal plan

Breakfast: 7am1 cup granola 1 cup yogurt 1 cup blueberries
Morning snack: 10am  1 cup tortilla chips ¼ cup guacamole
Lunch: 1pm1 ham and cheese sandwich 1 side salad 1 glass juice
Afternoon snack: 4pm1 chocolate bar
Dinner: 7pm1 cup bolognaise 1 cup spaghetti   1 cup mixed vegetables
Snack: 9pm1 pot yogurt 1 banana  

2 snack meal plan

Breakfast: 8amPorridge: ½ cup uncooked porridge oats made with 1 mug milk (blue or green). 1 cup raspberries   1 slice toast with 1 tbsp peanut butter
Lunch: 12pmWrap: 1 wholemeal wrap 1 cup grated cheese Lettuce and tomato 1 teaspoon mustard  
Afternoon snack: 3.30pm2 chocolate digestive biscuits 1 banana
Dinner: 7pm2 sausages 1 cup mashed potatoes 1 cup mixed vegetables
Snack: 9pm1 protein bar ½ cup dried apricots

Vegetarian meal plan

Breakfast: 7am2 slices bread + butter 2 boiled eggs
1 apple
Morning snack: 10am  1 pot yogurt
1 banana
Lunch: 1pmPasta salad: 1 cup cooked pasta ¼ cup mixed seeds 1 cup roast vegetables 2 teaspoons olive oil  
Afternoon snack: 4pm1 piece brownie
Dinner: 7pm1 cup lentil curry 1 cup rice
Snack: 9pm1 mug milk 1 cup blueberries

References

FREED. (2016, January). Eating with confidence for good health: A dietetics guide. FREED from ED. https://freedfromed.co.uk/img/guides/Eating_With_Confidence-FREED.pdf

Targowski, K., Bank, S., Carter, O., Campbell, B. & Raykos, B. (2022). Break Free from ED. Perth, Western Australia: Centre for Clinical Interventions

Waller, G., Turner, H.M., Tatham, M., Mountford, V.A., & Wade, T.A. (2019). Brief Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Non- Underweight Patients: CBT-T for Eating Disorders. Routledge.


If you are looking for help with the next steps for binge eating disorder recovery, check out this list of the best self-help eating disorder recovery books or book a free consultation to see if we can help you repair your relationship with food.

About

Welcome. I'm Dr Jenny Davis, a Clinical Psychologist with a special interest in eating disorders. I'm passionate about helping people recover and build a healthy relationship with food. 

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