Structuring Nutrition in Eating Disorder Recovery

Woman struggling with an eating disorder and with Suicide Rates in Those who Suffer with Binge Eating Disorder

Contributor: Staff at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

Regular eating is a fundamental part of eating disorder recovery. It provides a solid foundation for your overall health and wellness. There are multiple benefits to committing to regular meals and snacks.

When you eat every two to three hours, you support blood sugar regulation, which supports stable energy levels, concentration, and mood. It helps lessen preoccupation with food and eating.

It also prevents unstructured eating, which increases the urge to engage in eating disorder behaviors. If you have been engaging in eating disorder behaviors, having predictable times for meals and snacks also helps rebuild your body’s trust so that it can reset, and eventually begin to provide you with more accurate internal cues for both hunger and fullness.

If you are struggling with eating disorder behaviors, eating regularly can be extremely daunting, but there are ways to start this process in a way that feels less overwhelming.

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Eating Patterns in Eating Disorder Recovery

Here are three tips to help with regular eating patterns:

  1. Layout a meal and snack schedule for your day
    This schedule can fluctuate and shift based on work, school, and other activities. In the earlier stages of recovery, it is important to make a stable nourishment pattern a priority. It may be helpful to set alarms on your phone or plan out your day in a planner.
  2. Plan meals and snacks ahead of time
    When starting this process, it can be helpful to plan and prepare meals and snacks ahead, so there is less stress at the moment. You can also plan meals with a roommate or utilize a meal delivery service if this is an area you struggle in. This is not something you will have to do forever. Eventually, you will get to a place where you can eat more flexibly. Early on, this helps to honor your commitment to a meal and snack schedule by planning support ahead of time.
  3. Gluten-free foods in Eating Disorder RecoveryRemember, recovery is progress, not perfection
    Aim not to miss a meal or snack. If you do, do not let this get you stuck in an “all or nothing” way of thinking. Remember that each meal and snack is a new opportunity for you to start fresh.

Depending on where you are in your eating disorder recovery, you may benefit from something called “meal support.” This is where emotional support is provided with a specific focus to help you in completing your meals/snacks.

This is traditionally something that is offered in treatment centers but is now also available through virtual platforms. You can also ask trusted loved ones to support you by eating with you or holding you accountable for your meal/snack schedule.

About the Author:

Victoria Kupiec, RD, LDN – Director of Nutrition Services at Timberline Knolls

Victoria Kupiec Image“The best part of my job is encouraging residents to approach their food and bodies with compassion, curiosity and empathy. It is a joy to bear witness to how this transforms how residents approach food and begin to develop body trust.”

Victoria oversees the dietitians and diet technicians, carries a caseload of adolescents, supervises the menu and meal planning stages and develops nutrition-related protocols. She also implements current nutrition recommendations, participates in community outreach and trains dietitians.

Victoria began at Timberline Knolls as a diet tech while completing her undergraduate degree. After obtaining her RD licensure, she worked in our residential program with the adult population. She then worked with adults at Timberline’s partial hospitalization program and oversaw the development of the nutrition program in Orland Park. After spending a short time in the marketing department, she became the nutrition services director.

Victoria graduated from Benedictine University with a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in Dietetics. She did her dietetic internship at Dominican University, which included experience in clinical, community, and food service settings.

Victoria is a member of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Behavioral Health DPG, as well as the South Suburban Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

About Our Sponsor:

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At Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center outside of Chicago, Illinois, we provide specialized care for women and adolescent girls who are living with eating disorders, substance use disorders, and various mental health concerns. Our residential treatment and partial hospitalization programming (PHP) help our residents achieve lifelong recovery by combining clinically excellent treatment with spiritual and emotional growth. We provide care that is holistic, personalized, and nurturing, empowering women to be active participants in their wellness journeys.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed & Approved on May 11, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC
Published May 11, 2020, on