“Diet” Foods in Recovery

Ezekiel Bread. Fiber One. Rice cakes. PB2. Quest Bars. Shiritaki noodles. Arctic Zero. Egg whites. Walden Farms. Special K. Almond milk. Sugar free/fat free/carb free mush. I see these foods all of the time on recovery accounts and are generally safer foods for those with and recovering from eating disorders. I wanted to give my two cents on what I think about eating these “diet” foods in recovery, and for anyone for that matter. Of course, our opinions might differ and that is totally fine. Please respect my opinion and I will respect yours. I cut out eating all of these triggering diet-y foods when I went to the ERC (obviously they’re not going to feed us this stuff!). And for about 4 months after treatment, I did not go grocery shopping. My mom did not purchase these foods. I didn’t really have any say in what I ate. When you are first beginning your recovery, I think it is EXTREMELY important to cut out these “diet” foods. I know that a lot of us struggle with distinguishing whether we like a food for its taste or whether we like it for its nutritional information. Cutting out all of these foods and eating 100% of “the real deal” (temporarily) can help you overcome fear foods and realize what foods you genuinely like. Also, especially if you are weight restoring, these foods are typically very low in calories for the volume of food. All of the fiber and protein will make eating uncomfortable especially while your digestive system is still healing. And your digestive system WILL need to heal regardless of your specific ED or your weight. But this winter, I started trying a few of these foods again. Because I honestly believe that telling someone in recovery that they cannot eat egg whites, protein bars, dairy-free milk EVER again is disordered in itself. That’s labeling food as being “good” and “bad”. A large part of recovery is eliminating this black and white thinking. Having the occasional pint of Arctic Zero because you like the consistency does not necessarily mean that you are giving into your ED. Overtime, I have worked a lot on learning whether I really like foods or not, and knowing which foods are just too ED driven. I prefer eating whole eggs to egg whites. I like Cookie Dough Quest Bars a lot. But I also like to eat Chips Ahoy cookies. Walden Farms products and PB2 are just two things that I know I shouldn’t eat for my mental health. They are too triggering right now. It is a slippery slope however. You shouldn’t be replacing your favorite flavor of Ben and Jerry’s with Arctic Zero. But you can find balance between the two if you genuinely enjoy eating both. I find balance by not always having these diet/safe foods on hand. I know that if I always had Ezekiel bread, I would probably end out not eating “real” bread. If you find yourself relying too much on Quest bars or whatever food it is, maybe you know it’s time to veer off of it for a while and see whether you just really really like the taste or whether it’s ED driven. You should not be eating these foods to replace foods that you love because of their nutritional value. But it’s wrong to label them “bad” or “good”. I don’t think that it’s fair to restrict those in ED remission from foods that they genuinely like the taste of. What is your opinion on this topic? Which of these foods do you actually like the taste of?


11 thoughts on ““Diet” Foods in Recovery

  1. so so so true. i have cut those “diet foods” out of my life because they are just too triggering. Along those same lines, I cannot eat the foods that were part of my strict “regimen” when I was in my disease — like specific brands of this and that. It’s just too triggering. And protecting my recovery is #1. 🙂 thanks for this great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I am so proud of you for making that realization that those foods are unhealthy for you mentally/physically!
      Yes, there are certain foods that aren’t even typical “diety” foods that I still don’t eat because I relied on them during the depths of my ed. Thank you so much for alllll of your constant support!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with this 100%. It irks me that some people using Instagram recovery accounts claim to be recovering when they rely on products like PB2 and Walden Farms. I have tried all the diet foods and personally think they taste horrible compared to the real deal… Except quest bars! I love those 🙂 But due to the fiber amount I do not think they should be eaten every day- they will mess up your digestive track. Which is dangerous for people in recovery who have already messed theirs up so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post and completely agree with you!! Having the black and white thinking is not good at all in recovery! Thanks for this awesome post 🙂


  4. I do no really think people can fully recover before facing at least some of these fear foods! Some girls, even if they are gaining the weight, choose to stick with these ‘diet’ esque foods and I feel as though they are constant reminders that we must always choose ‘the lesser’ or ‘healthier’ option. I know for a fact that trying to recover on vegetables and fiberous foods can be physically painful and difficult. While I would personally never eat Walden Farms products or anything low fat, I don’t see the issue with enjoying some quest bars or ‘lower calorie’ treats if you truly like to eat them. Living life doesn’t have to be black and white, and I totally agree with you on all of your points :).


    1. I totally agree! Like, yes, it is good that you are increasing your caloric intake or doing minnie maud if that is how you are choosing to recover, but I don’t see how it’s truly recovering if you spend your life just relying on all of these safe foods as crutches!
      I really really appreciate the reply and I am so thankful that you read my post (: It means a lot to me!


  5. Great post! I know for me there is a certain reluctance to let go of so many of these products. Although during inpatient we mainly had to eat ‘proper’ foods I chose the easier options whenever i could. As soon as I got home leave I had them all again immediately. I think it’s great when you talk about knowing what you really like. I think that’s a big thing for me. I know longer really know what I like and don’t like because I pretend to myself I like whatever is the lowest 😦 Keep going lovely


    1. I hope (and know!) that you will learn what foods your body likes the taste of over time! I’m sure that for some people it takes a lot longer than for others.
      I know for me, being mindful during meals and trying to observe the texture/taste/how it makes me feel after really helps.


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