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. 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?
- You will honour your body’s needs and build body attunement. This is key to becoming an intuitive eater.
- 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.
- 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.
- Food portions will be normalised, and you will understand the unique needs of your body, and how this fluctuates day-to-day.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- It can lead to distress or fear of judgement when comparing your meals to others.
- It may lead to fear that you’re not eating enough, which may make you feel as if you’re failing.
- 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.
- 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’.
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