3 Things to Do (Immediately) If You Skipped a Meal in Eating Disorder Recovery

Editor's Note

If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

Today, I skipped breakfast. I woke up, ignored my hunger, ignored the meticulously-made meal plan and left for work knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to eat until lunch. Today wasn’t the first time I’ve skipped breakfast, and it probably won’t be the last. For someone with healthy eating habits, this probably isn’t a big deal. In eating disorder recovery, though, a hole in your meal plan is a hole in your recovery. One skipped breakfast can lead to another, which can lead to a skipped lunch, and all of the sudden you’re back in your old habits.What do you do, then, to avoid going down the relapse road once you’ve skipped breakfast (or any other meal)? How do you fill a hole before you end up having to build an entire bridge to get back to where you were?

Here are three starting points:

1. Recommit to your meal plan — immediately.

As the saying goes, “if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” The first thing to do when you’ve skipped a meal is to get back on board, immediately. Don’t let your eating disorder do any more damage than it already has. Trust in the meal plan, trust in your recovery and follow your meal plan for the next while.

2. Work through it.

It’s important that you recognize why you ignored the meal plan and went back to old behaviors. Are you going back to old coping mechanisms like restriction? Are you looking for control over some emotion? Do you simply not like the food you had planned? No matter what it is, you need to identify the issue and find a healthy way to address it so that doesn’t compromise your health or recovery.

3. Reach out.

Eating disorders are secretive, but recovery can’t be. If you find yourself skipping meals – skipping parts of your recovery – you should reach out to your support system or a professional for help with getting back on track, working through the cause and being accountable for your recovery. Maybe this looks like asking a friend to text you later and check that you had dinner, or maybe it looks like a trip to the grocery store to buy a substitute food you’ll look forward to eating. Either way, don’t ignore or downplay the issue. If you do, you’ll risk making the hole into something much bigger.

Slips and relapses happen, but skipping meals can be dangerous. Address the issue head-on before it becomes something bigger. Recovery is hard, but it’s worth it.


Unsplash photo via Pablo Varela

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