8 Bulimia Recovery Meal Plans (plus portion guidelines)

by | May 24, 2024 | Bulimia | 0 comments

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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. 

8 example bulimia recovery meal plans. Find out whether you need a meal plan, example plans, and how to build your own personalised plan.

Many people chose to follow a meal plan when they are recovering from bulimia. In this blog post I have given 8 example bulimia recovery meal plans.

I’m Dr Jenny Davis, a clinical psychologist specialising in eating disorder recovery. I cover whether you need a meal plan, example plans, and how to build your own personalised plan.

Do you need a bulimia recovery meal plan?

Do you even need to follow a meal plan when you are recovering from bulimia? The short answer is no, you absolutely don’t have to. But many people find it helpful in the initial stages of getting better.

People might choose to start off by following a meal plan to:

  • Help structure eating
  • Tackle foods they’ve been avoiding (e.g. carbohydrates)
  • Make sure they are eating regularly
  • Re-learn portion sizes
  • Prevent binge eating
  • Manage eating until hunger and fullness signals return
  • Keep going with recovery when motivation is low

A meal plan should be flexible and allow you to eat a full range of food. Your meal plan should not feel restrictive and include enough food to meet your body’s needs (this is not a diet).

In the long-term, you will probably want to phase out your meal plan and eat in response to hunger and fullness signals.

Black planner for bulimia recovery meal plan and cup of coffee

 Speak to your health professional

Eating disorders have a huge impact on our physical wellbeing. Many of these effects are hidden (like changes to electrolytes) and you might not be aware that your body is struggling.

For most people, the best way to resolve your physical health complications will be to start eating regularly and stop purging behaviours. However, in the early days of making changes to your eating there are also risks.

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.

Example bulimia recovery meal plans

These example bulimia recovery meal plans have been put together using internal NHS documents and these guidelines:

FREED

CBT-T

Dorset NHS meal plans

I am not a dietitian, and these meal plans are not intended to be perfectly nutritionally balanced. They are an example of how you might put together your own meal plan and feel confident in feeding yourself again.

All meal plans are designed for weight maintenance, but your individual needs will vary. Adapt the plan and portion size as necessary to maintain your weight.

banana and blueberry porridge for bulimia recovery meal plan

3 snack example meal plans

Breakfast: 7am1 bagel 1 banana 2 tbsps. peanut butter
Morning snack: 10am   1 cereal bar (not diet version) 2 satsumas
Lunch: 1pm1 ½  cups chicken and vegetable soup 1 large brown roll 2 tsp butter
Afternoon snack: 4pm1 slice carrot cake
Dinner: 7pm1 fillet salmon 1 cup rice 1 cup mixed stir-fry veg 2 tsp sesame oil
Snack: 9pm 1 handful of nuts
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 example meal plans

Breakfast: 7am2 scrambled eggs 2 slices toast 2 tsp butter 1 apple   150mls smoothie made with 1tbsp nut butter
Lunch: 12pmLeftover chicken noodles: 1 cup chicken 2 tbsp satay sauce 1 cup mixed vegetables 1 cup noodles
Afternoon snack: 3.30pm1 individual ice-cream
Dinner: 7pmChilli con carne: 1 cup mince and kidney beans 1 cup rice 2 teaspoons sour cream
Snack: 9pm1 cup popcorn ¼ cup dried apricots
Breakfast: 7amPorridge: 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

 3 snack vegetarian example meal plans

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
Breakfast: 7amBanana oat pancakes: 1 banana ½ cup oats ½ cup milk   Served with ½ cup yogurt and 1 cup berries
Morning snack: 10am  1 small pitta ¼ tub hummus 1 handful carrot batons
Lunch: 1pm2 cups pasta ½ large tin tuna 3 heaped tablespoons sweetcorn 2 tsp mayonnaise
Afternoon snack: 4pm1 chocolate bar
Dinner: 7pm 1 vegetarian pizza 1 side bowl of salad 4 tsp salad dressing
Snack: 9pm1 pot yogurt 1tsp honey

2 snack vegetarian example meal plans

Breakfast: 7am2 shredded wheat bars 1 mug milk 1 tsp honey 1 cup berries
Lunch: 12pm1 ½  cups vegetable soup 2 slices bread 2 tsp butter
Afternoon snack: 3.30pm 2 chocolate biscuits 1 cup grapes
Dinner: 7pm 3 vegetarian sausages 1 cup mashed potato 1 cup peas and broccoli
Snack: 9pm1 glass milk 1 banana
Breakfast: 7am½ can baked beans 1 cup spinach 2 slices toast 2 tsp butter   1 glass juice
Lunch: 12pmHummus sandwich: 2 slices bread Salad and tomatoes ½ tub hummus   1 packet crisps 1 pear
Afternoon snack: 3.30pm1 almond slice
Dinner: 7pmHalloumi kebab: 1 naan 3 wedges halloumi 2 tbsps. coriander yogurt sauce 1 cup roast vegetables
Snack: 9pm1 apple 1 tbsp. peanut butter

Building your own meal plan

Hopefully the example meal plans have given you an idea about how to plan your own eating during recovery.

Use the examples as a guide but adapt them so that they suit your life. Below are some guidelines for building your own bulimia recovery meal plan.

1. Choosing the number of snacks

Your meal plan should include between 1 and 3 snacks per day.

In my experience most people need 2-3 snacks when they are recovering from bulimia. This should help to keep your blood sugar stable and reduce the likelihood of binges.

The best plan is one that fits your life. Do you have time for a morning snack? Or do you have meetings most mornings? Do you tend to feel hungry after dinner?

If you’re not sure what to choose, start with 3 meals and 3 snacks and see how you go.  You can always change things as you go.

2. Meal timings

The example meal plans gave suggested times, but you should personalise these so that they work for you.

Do not leave more than 3-4 hours between eating, except overnight. If you currently delay eating until later in the day, this is probably contributing to your binges later in the day.  This is an opportunity to change things and see if it reduces your binging.

Treat this as an experiment, try out your initial timings and review in a week. Are you left hungry at certain times of day? Have your binges reduced? Switch things up to suit you.

family dinner table with plates and white cloth

3. Food groups

You should aim to have a balance of food groups in your main meals. Main meals should include a portion of a starchy carbohydrate (e.g. rice, potato, pasta, bread), a source of protein (e.g. yogurt, eggs, chicken, fish, sausage, beans), vegetables or fruit, and a source of fat (e.g., oil, dressings, nut butter, butter).  

This can be adapted for the time of day. For example:

BreakfastCarbohydrateProteinVeg / FruitFat
PorridgeOatsMilkBlueberriesPeanut butter
CerealShredded wheatMilkPearMixed nuts
Egg on toastToastEggsSpinachCheese
LunchCarbohydrateProteinVeg / FruitFat
Sandwich & crisps & fruitBreadChickenSalad and appleMayo & crisps
Pasta saladPastaBeansMixed roast vegOil
Jacket potatoPotatoTunaSweetcornMayo
Main mealCarbohydrateProteinVeg / FruitFat
Spag bowlSpaghettiBeefCarrots & tomatoesOil
Roast dinnerPotatoPorkCarrots & peasGravy & crackling
CurryRiceChickpeasSpinachOil or cream

4. Portion sizes

Ultimately the portion size you require will vary. It will depend on how many snacks you are eating, how active you are, and your body’s unique energy requirements.

Until you get a sense of what you need to maintain your weight, it can be helpful to follow some portion size guidelines. I recommend using “handy measures” (i.e., spoons, scoops, cups) rather than weighing.

This table gives example portion sizes for common foods. It is based on a combination of the guidelines in from FREED, CBT-T, and documents used in the NHS.

CarbohydratesPortion
Bread2 slices (standard size bread)
Bagel / large roll / naan bread / large wrap1 piece
Cornflakes, rice crispies2 cups*
Porridge (uncooked)½ cup
Baked potato1
Roast potatoes4 medium size
Cooked rice, pasta, couscous1 cup
Uncooked rice, pasta, couscous½ cup

*American cup measures

ProteinPortion
Chicken, turkey1 breast
Mince (pork, lamb, beef)1 cup
Curry, bolognaise, casserole1 cup
Roast meat 3 medium slices
Fish (salmon, cod, basa, tuna)1 fillet / steak
Vegetarian mince / tofu1 cup
Vegetarian sausages3
Eggs2
Cooked lentils, beans, chickpeas1 cup
Hard cheese (e.g. Cheddar)1 small match-box sized piece
Fruit and VegetablesPortion
Cooked vegetables2-3 tablespoons
Apple, banana, pear1
Berries, grapes1 cup
Satsuma, plum, kiwi 2
FatsPortion
Butter, oils, mayonnaise2 teaspoons
Salad dressing4 teaspoons
Pesto1 tablespoon
Single cream, sour cream ¼ cup
“Fun foods”Portion
Crisps1 individual packet
Chocolate bar1 individual bar
Biscuits2
Ice cream2 scoops

Building your own bulimia recovery meal plan might feel daunting at first. Remember the aim is to eat regularly, reduce binging, and meet your body’s needs. It does not need to be perfect.

If you are ready to recover from bulimia book a free consultation to see if we might be a good fit for you.

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.

Internal NHS documentation (2022). Meal planning and portion sizes. NHS.

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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