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mamabear
https://tabithafarrar.com/2019/05/eating-food-is-not-a-math-equation-stop-methodizing-eating/

I could not love this any more. Exactly how I have felt for the last 9 years. I will never regret tearing up those meal plans. 
They can be useful stepping stones for some- but should be temporary. 

Edited: keep in mind she is directing this at adults. This is not about the 3 meals/2-3 snack plan needed in FBT. 
Persistent, consistent vigilance!
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tina72
That is really agreat article, thanks for posting mamabear. It helps to understand why we need to get rid of all rules around eating and meal plans ARE rules around eating.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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kazi67
Love this!!
On the initial refeeding of our d I never counted a calorie ever (I still couldn’t tell you how many calories in anything or how many calories my d now eats)
She eats 3 normal meals and 3 normal snacks adding more each day (fear foods, sweets etc)
there was a period of time when the AN voice was very strong (after her first IP stay) and we followed the meal plan so the AN could be challenged (and I could say “this is what the dietician said, shall I ring the hospital and ask?) 
so there was no arguing from her/AN
now (after her 2nd IP stay) she does not follow a meal plan, she knows what she needs to eat and I keep an eye on what she has chosen
my d is now 20, diagnosed at 17, and this is what is working for us 
we still have up and down days but she is working out what she needs to eat and I can usually tell by her mood (and so does she) if she needs more 
some days when I would see she was struggling and I suggested she follow a meal plan again she would say “it’s not normal to follow a meal plan mum, I know what I have to eat”
its a dance between allowing her to figure it out and me intervening but tbh I don’t intervene except to say say “food is your medicine honey, challenge those thoughts!,
I know you want to get better”
this may follow with her eating more becoming upset, but at least she is making the decision to eat more 

I took the advise at the beginning of our journey not to count calories I think from you mammabear? I’m not sure?? But from someone on this forum and I’m so glad I did 
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tina72
"I can usually tell by her mood (and so does she) if she needs more"

This is the same here, kazi67, it is interesting how fast you can see that they are undernurished from their behaviour even in year 3 of recovery.
My d feels dizzy and sad and says she cannot concentrate then. And as she hates that feelings now 🙂 she does something against it. She now can even recognize that before it is starting and never leaves the house without something to eat and drink in her bag (she calls it her "emergency case").
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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kazi67
Yes Tina, it’s good that it does eventually happen isn’t it my d also always takes a few snacks with her wherever she goes 
even though my d still gets upset by having to actually eat more (her thoughts still punish her)  she knows she has to 
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Ellesmum
I was shocked by our meal plan given by CAMHs with its weights and measures, even more shocked that d was handed a copy. She followed it religiously for a short time even though she’d been eating more previously as of course it was ‘official’ given by the ‘experts’  a guide to minimal eating.  
It went in the bin soon after, and while I do keep an eye on calories and I know d does because after all she knows the calories in everything her mood is my best barometer.   

Right now now I have to forget the fact she knows there’s 500 calories in the bag of sweets or whatever as long as she eats them, hopefully one day she just won’t care.  Normal life is wanting a big glass of juice because we’re thirsty, or having extra pudding because it’s irresistible, not 125ml of juice or 30g of yoghurt as prescribed. 
Ellesmum
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sandie
Thanks for sharing. I found the blog interesting. For our situation slowly refeeding, i can't wholeheartedly buy into the concept of chucking out meal-plan, although they have caused us problems. I absolutely agree that taking a mathematical approach is not healthy or normal and i am trying to loosen up on this. However, it is a struggle to feed D enough energy to gain adequate weight, so i have to calorie count. Certainly i would like to transit towards more normal approach once she is weight-restored. On the other hand, i checked out Tabiha's previous blog on why you cannot recover on safe foods alone. Although the migration theory did not click with me, i found the messages about needing to retrain your brain excellent and just what i need today for discussion with ED team as we are struggling with limited range of food being eaten. X
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Foodsupport_AUS
I can't say I really agree.  Some of the comments also raise concerns. Tabatha is of course discussing adults and suggesting they trust their body, but I think we have all seen that if our children "trusted their body" and feelings they could end up worse rather than better off. We did use a meal plan and found it incredibly useful. It gave a good basis for getting started and a floor below which we shouldn't fall. 
I agree that long term that assiduously sticking to a meal plan is shifting from one form of disordered eating to another, however it is likely to lead to a much healthier outcome. Carrie Arnold in her book Decoding Anorexia indicates that she still finds it difficult to make sure she is eating enough if she doesn't stick to the plan. 

There is no one way to do this, but even always having a smoothie, or always having three meals and three snacks is some form of meal plan. 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13.5. Weight restored July 2012. Relapse and now clawing our way back. Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
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scaredmom
I think to be honest we are all on meal plans.in the broader sense. I have my regular routines and meals and I do not have ED. If I let d eat to her desires well... that is how we fell off the cliff into ED land. 
Our society has a routine for meals and we are so on meal plans. Breakfast, lunch supper snacks etc... We
talk about ensuring our kids eat what they have to and even saying my kid needs 4000 cal per day is a plan of sorts. It is semantics and until the brain is healed then for sure they can be left to eat what they feel but they still have a minimum that they have to achieve.
Eating when hungry for sure is the goal but making sure we and they eat enough is the crux. I think the goal is less rigidity,  that is what  I gleaned from the article, but still good and full nutrition is the goal. 
When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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scaredmom
Thanks toothfairy this link above helps to balance out this conversation.
My d needs 4000+ per day and the best way for her is 3 meals and 3 snacks and that is ‘her plan’.
When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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scaredmom
Ps my d just does not know that is the plan. And so in doing this type of routine for her she is learning how to get her nutrition.
she is learning what she needs and that is my goal to ensure she can do this by herself over time.
When within yourself you find the road, the right road will open.  (Dejan Stojanovic)

Food+more food+time+love+good professional help+ATDT+no exercise+ state not just weight+/- the "right" medicine= healing---> recovery(--->life without ED)
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kazi67
My d has now been “brainwashed” to eat  “normally” 
normal for us is breakfast lunch and tea, morn tea, afternoon tea and before bed snack (more added if active)
I guess this could be called a “plan”
my point was we don’t count calories we have just always said this is a “normal serve/plate”
her IP team tried the intuitional eating trick when she first came out and it was not successful, as like tabatha my d didn’t feel hunger cues (guess that’s why she developed AN)
we then needed the meal plan for a “safety net” until she learned what she needs and this did take some time 

as I said above she now knows what she needs even though she may not necessarily want to eat she knows she HAS to

i think once they can understand this (to eat regular normal meals & snacks) even if they don’t feel like it) we are half way there

its her medicine 
much like chemo 
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mamabear
I did not take from this that eating meals and snacks is equivalent to a “ plan”. It’s essential that we do that. . I think she is referring more to the numbers involved in “ counting” . My Ds initial meal plan given to me/her inpt involved counting fats and proteins and carbs and fruits and veggies. It was a nightmare. I had these huge pieces of paper with boxes to check and tallies to make. I found it absolutely ridiculous. My TEN YEAR OLD was arguing with me over a pat of butter. She “ already had her 3 fats” or whatever that meal and did not need any more. I was like “ What the hell am I doing? This feels like another warped version of the disorder”. I threw them away...and fed her like my grandma fed her grown strong men farmhands. 

As many of you know my d needed high cals for years. 6000. And I knew I was hitting that mark bc we learned to eyeball things. You memorize yourself cals in cream and butter etc etc. But I didn’t exactly measure or weigh. I was sent home from inpt and told to get a kitchen scale. Nope. No Thankyou. I wasn’t going to weigh out ounces of pasta or meat etc. 

I just think that the possibility of full recovery from EDs has been vastly underestimated. I think it’s been cemented in the mindset of the professional establishment that meal plans/exchange plans are as good as it will get for most when in fact it may be for only a minority. Yes there are those who may need to stick to plans bc they have become so entrenched that they truly need to eat robotically. 

But the ultimate gosl goal should be to go back to being a normal human being able to eat when and what you want. 

My d has been in recovery for several years now. I remember people telling me to tell her things like “ you can never skip breakfast in your entire life”. But she is a normal college student. If she has a 9 am class she can sleep until 8:40, put on jeans and go to class and grab food at 10:30. Because she is hungry. And she feeds herself appropriately. So her not eating food the second she gets up every day is no longer going to send her spiraling into AN. She’s well past needing to be rigid about any meals or snacks. Does that make sense? It’s funny to me how radical that sounds when I read it out loud. My d does not have to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks. She just eats. With gusto. Sometimes she eats big meals. Sometimes she grazes all day. Sometimes she eats Mac n cheese pizza at her favorite place in Minneapolis at 1 am after a concert. 

Last night she was like “ omg mom you have no chocolate in this house.” So we went to the store and got sea salted dark chocolate. Not a snack just yummy wanted chocolate. That’s the goal. No counting. No rigid schedule. 

Thats my take away from Tabitha. 

I think if you e read her book “ Love Fat” you understand better exactly what she’s getting st. It’s a great book and I laughed a lot bc she’s a firecracker!
Persistent, consistent vigilance!
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tina72
I see it the same as you mamabear, I do not think Tabitha meant that we should not have a plan at all but a "normal" plan every mom has what to cook this week and what is needed for grocery and not a plan that says 30 g butter or 2 "units" of carbohydrates or something like this. Nothing that can be counted and used against normal eating.
What I saw as a big step in recovery was when she was able to accept changes in plan. When it was o.k. to have noodles instead of fish today or to have afternoon snack at 4 p.m. instead of 3. So sticking to routines is o.k. when it is normal to do that. We all have breakfast lunch and dinner around the same time and a lot of us even eat the same for breakfast nearly every day. That is o.k. because when can easily change that routine when someone comes along with croissants in the morning 🙂.
The big question is is that plan dictating your life or is it helping to have a normal routine.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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