All in Recovery: Is it right for me?

all in recovery

Eating disorder recovery using the All-In Method


Whilst exploring different styles of recovery, you may have come across ‘all in’ recovery. It may sound overwhelming to some, or as an ideal approach to others.

In this blog we will explain what ‘going all in’ recovery means, as well as its perks and some possible drawbacks. This way, we are hoping you will get more understanding of whether this would be an effective approach for your unique eating disorder recovery journey.


What does all in recovery entail?

According to urban dictionary, an online glossary of slang words and phrases, going ‘all in’ means being totally committed to something[1]. As you can understand, going ‘all in’ is not really a scientific term, but it can speak to the ears of many who have a strong momentum in the beginning of their treatment.

Being fully committed in recovery entails being devoted to challenging yourself, persist in saying ‘no’ to your eating disorder voice, and being willing to claim trust in yourself again.

This requires letting go of the thin ideal and the need to restrict your food intake in the pursue of it.

You won’t necessarily need a meal plan, but rather allow yourself to eat all the food that your body is craving to meet your energy needs. Sometimes this may mean your intake needs to exceed your daily nutritional requirements, so you are able to restore your body weight.

Showing trust in the process by eating what you want, when you want it, and as much as you want, makes for a prosperous ground for healing your body and mind.

At the same time, going ‘all in’ encompasses giving up other eating disorder behaviours as well. This could include, among others, stopping any compulsive lower-level movement and exercise, counting calories or macronutrients, and obsessive body or food weighing.

We know this doesn’t sound easy, but this is about taking that leap of faith. Understanding that the weight gain will stop when the body is at its happy and thriving place. This WILL happen biologically as soon as the body realises it’s not in a famine state anymore. As a result, food will not feel scary, and your cravings and extreme hunger will dissipate.

With the support of a team of specialists, your unhelpful eating disorder behaviours will be replaced with distress tolerance techniques and emotional regulation techniques.

Here at Embody Health London, we are your biggest cheerleaders and here to support as you choose the best path for you. We are firm believers that knowledge is power and it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons when making your decision.


What are the advantages of going all in recovery?

  1. You will honour your body’s needs and build body attunement. This is key to becoming an intuitive eater.
  2. Weight restoration and nutrition rehabilitation will be achieved sooner to improve your long-term health outcomes, regain your period, protect your lean mass and organs, and restore your bone density.
  3. You will make peace with food by overcoming fear foods and food rules. This will reduce food anxiety and guilt, resulting in you being more present with family and friends.
  4. Food portions will be normalised, and you will understand the unique needs of your body, and how this fluctuates day-to-day.
  5. It allows the introduction of ‘normal eating’ quicker. This will improve your quality of life and help you to have food and body freedom.


What are the disadvantages of going all in recovery?

  1. Weight restoration alone does not always lead to full recovery, so going ‘all in’ can sometimes neglect mental and emotional health if you move too quickly.
  2. It can be confusing to navigate through intuitive eating by yourself after a period of going ‘all in’. This can be prevented by getting specialist input to provide you with appropriate guidance.
  3. It can lead to distress or fear of judgement when comparing your meals to others.
  4. It may lead to fear that you’re not eating enough, which may make you feel as if you’re failing.
  5. Following a period of prolonged food restriction, going ‘all in’ can make you feel extremely full. This is a temporary sensation though as your digestive system comes back to normal again after re-feeding.
  6. It is not a safe approach if you are at risk of developing re-feeding syndrome (significant recent weight loss, minimal food intake, low body mass index), or if you are medically unstable (e.g., abnormal blood test results, low heart rate etc). Anyone at risk will require a careful reintroduction of food to meet their nutritional requirements slowly.



By now, you may have figured out whether you’re interested in the ‘all in’ approach to recovery. It may sound like the perfect fit for you, or you may find it very scary. Eating disorder recovery is different for everyone, and you are allowed to do things at your own pace.

What matters is that you keep showing up each day and do the best you can. You will get where you need to be, whether fast or slow. There is no right or wrong.

In the wise words Martin Luther King, ‘you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step’.[2]

If you would like personalised one-to-one recovery coaching from one of our specialist dietitians, we are here to support you every step of the way. Book your free discovery call and let’s recover, together!


Team EHL xx

 Written by specialist dietitian, Dimitra Theodoraki





What are safe foods for those recovering from an eating disorder?

pasta eating disorder recovery

Nutrition rehabilitation in eating disorder recovery


Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions that affect millions of people around the globe. In fact, it is estimated that around 9% of the population have been affected by an eating disorder at some point in their lives1, whilst those with an eating disorder could be twice as likely as those without to experience anxiety or depression2.

If you or someone you love has suffered from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or any other type of eating disorder, you may be wondering which foods are safe to eat and which ones you should be avoiding.

There are several myths surrounding food safety for those experiencing eating disorders. This article will discuss eating safely while in eating disorder recovery, including tips on tackling your fear foods and freeing yourself from food restriction.



What makes something a “fear food”?

A fear food, sometimes known as a “challenge food”, is any food that makes us feel uncomfortable or afraid to eat – some common fear foods include chocolate, ice cream, pizza, pasta, and cheese.

The idea behind fear foods is the belief that they will make us lose control or overeat, which will lead to weight gain.

This can be extremely anxiety-inducing for people with eating disorders: the more fattening or calorific you perceive a food to be, the more fear you will associate with it3.

However, it’s important to remember that no food intrinsically causes weight gain – it is only if it is eaten in excess and with no body attunement that weight gain could happen.

The key to overcoming an eating disorder is acknowledging the fact that there are no “good” or “bad” foods. Once you learn to recognise and accept this, you’ll be able to enjoy eating without feeling guilty or shameful.


 Are “safe foods” really safe?

In eating disorder terms, a “safe food” is usually something that we feel comfortable eating because it doesn’t pose a threat to our overall goal of weight loss. These are usually very low-calorie items such as sugar-free jelly, rice cakes, diet drinks, low-calorie fibre snack bars and even sugar-free chewing gum.

If you are experiencing an eating disorder, you might think that these low-calorie options are “safer” because they are perceived as healthy. However, just because a food is low in calories, it isn’t necessarily a healthy choice – especially not when you are removing or restricting lots of other foods in your diet.

Those with eating disorders are usually trapped in the cycle of avoiding fear foods entirely and stick to strictly safe foods to avoid weight gain at all costs. The truth is these super low-calorie “safe” foods are (often) nutritionally inadequate, unfulfilling and won’t provide you with a varied, balanced diet.


Which foods are ACTUALLY safe for those recovering from an eating disorder?

Remember, an eating disorder can be very convincing and demonise certain foods or food groups. At the end of the day, all food is safe (unless you’ve dropped it on the floor, you’re allergic to it, or it’s past its’ expiration date!).

It’s important to include a variety of foods in our diet to challenge rigid, black and white thinking. As we like to say, our aim is to move you from black and white, to all the colours of the rainbow:

  1. Carbohydrates: Not only do carbs give us fuel, but they also supply us with valuable nutrients such as folate, iodine, thiamine, and dietary fibre. Carbohydrates like whole grains will also keep you fuller for longer, so you’ll feel more satisfied after you eat them4.


  1. Protein: Lean meats and fish are not only rich in protein, but provide an excellent source of essential iron, vitamin B12 and zinc. Oily fish is an excellent source of omega-three fatty acids, which help maintain our cardiovascular and brain health.


  1. Nuts, oils & healthy fats: Nuts contain plenty of fibre and protein, on top of a multitude of essential macronutrients like zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, selenium, folate, iron, and potassium. They also provide us with healthy unsaturated fats.


  1. Calcium: Calcium can be found in dairy products such as milk and yoghurt and is important for maintaining bone health.


  1. Fun foods: “Fear foods” like chocolate, biscuits, burgers, cake, crisps, and pizza can also be seen as fun foods – it is important to challenge these foods and try to incorporate them into your diet, rather than cutting them out completely.


  1. Fruit and vegetables: Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and asparagus are rich in iron, vitamins A, C and K, B vitamins and magnesium – all of which have been shown to reduce anxiety, increase serotonin and moderate satiety5.


Fruits are high in antioxidants, chemicals which fight disease by protecting against free radicals and reducing inflammation. An apple a day might actually help keep the doctor away after all… although it is important not to fill up on too many fruits or vegetables as you may not be able to fit in other important food groups!


  1. Fluids: To stay hydrated, it is a good idea to aim for 1 glass of fluid with every meal and snack you have.


How can a pattern of regular eating help eating disorder recovery?

 Maintaining a pattern of regular eating is one of the key aspects of eating disorder recovery. Research indicates that having a regular mealtime structure throughout the day with snacks in between helps people to slowly return to less disordered eating patterns and face fewer negative feelings surrounding meals6.

Eating every few hours throughout the day is a tried and tested method of developing a more positive relationship with food and honouring your body’s natural hunger cues, without self-judgement or restriction.

Remember, it’s difficult to work with an underfed brain and body! Your body thrives off regular nutrition to help you function at its best.


How long does it take to recover from an eating disorder?  

There is no single, straightforward way to recover from an eating disorder – everyone’s recovery journey is different and doesn’t have a set timeline. You may experience setbacks along the way, but it’s important to accept that recovery isn’t linear: everyone travels at their own pace and setbacks are a part of this journey.

One of the first steps to recovery is acknowledging that you want to recover, allowing yourself to accept professional help and consulting with an expert who can provide you with the advice and support you deserve.

Here at Embody Health London, we provide tailored support and coaching for those who want to reduce their food anxieties and build their body confidence.

Get in touch today to begin your recovery journey, starting with a free one-to-one discovery call with a member of our compassionate, qualified team.


Robin Wileman,

EHL Intern



1 National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. (2022, June 8). Eating Disorder Statistics | General & Diversity Stats | ANAD.

2 Patton, G. C., Coffey, C., & Sawyer, S. M. (2003). The outcome of adolescent eating disorders: findings from the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 12(0), 1.

3 Gonzalez, V. M., & Vitousek, K. M. (2004). Feared food in dieting and non-dieting young women: a preliminary validation of the Food Phobia Survey. Appetite, 43(2), 155–173. 

4 Zong, G., Gao, A., Hu, F. B., & Sun, Q. (2016). Whole Grain Intake and Mortality From All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer. Circulation, 133(24), 2370–2380.

5 Maqbool, M. A., Aslam, M., & Akbar, W. & Iqbal, Z. (2018). Biological importance of vitamins for human health: A review. Journal of Agriculture and Basic Science, 2.

6 Hage, T. W., Rø, Y., & Moen, A. (2015). “Time’s up” – staff’s management of mealtimes on inpatient eating disorder units. Journal of Eating Disorders, 3(1).