Individualized Meal Planning at Aspire Wellness and Recovery
We have found that when one’s eating habits and food choices are grounded in a coordinated approach to meal planning, our patients realize they can spend more time enjoying different food types and less time agonizing over decisions about what to eat, how often, and how much.
Thoughtful and flexible meal planning is a very important part of any eating recovery program because it helps the patient to create a structured foundation for how they shop and prepare for their meals, using the help and supervision of our experienced team of nutritionists and dietitians. Meal planning also provides an opportunity for patients to explore alternative food choices and expand their understanding of different varieties of foods in a safe and accepting therapeutic environment.
Often, individuals struggling with an eating disorder – whether anorexia, bulimia, binge eating or some other type of eating related disorder – have a lot of difficulty thinking about and preparing meals that are both nourishing for them and also appropriately measured. And because eating disorder behaviors can progress over a period of years, overcoming eating disorder behaviors often requires a good amount of teaching and guidance before individuals can learn how to do meal planning in a healthy and structured way without feelings of fear, anxiety or guilt getting in the way.
Patient – Centered Meal Planning
The weekly meal planning group at Aspire Wellness and Recovery is facilitated by a registered dietitian or dietetic assistant. Patients will spend time in this group creating their individualized weekly meal plan based on their unique nutritional needs. Most importantly, unlike other programs that prepare the meals and choose the foods for their clients, without taking into account each individual’s nutritional needs and/or challenges, our patients are never told what kinds of foods they must eat. Instead, with staff guidance, our patients have the freedom to choose the foods that they will be eating throughout the course of their treatment (with staff supervision).
Importance of Meal Outings
At Aspire Wellness and Recovery, we not only encourage our patients to add an increasing variety of foods into their meals, but we also help them to incorporate challenging foods into their weekly meal plan. One way we help our patients do this is with weekly meal outings, where a dietitian or therapist accompanies the group to a restaurant, and gives them guidance about what foods on the menu will fit within the meal plan they have created for themselves, even if the foods are not an exact match. The meal outing is a very popular experiential group for our patients because it gives them an opportunity to practice and apply the meal planning skills they have learned at Aspire Wellness Center out in the real world. Over time, as these experiences are repeated and reinforced, our patients eventually learn to be comfortable with a wide assortment of different food options