How Much Food is TOO Much in ED Recovery? (Autism Edition)

autism recovery
How Much Food is TOO Much in ED Recovery? (Autism Edition)

A common phrase in the eating disorder recovery space is “There’s no such thing as too much food in recovery.”

This statement, along with similar statements such as “the limit does not exist” are intended to inspire food freedom and the abundance mindset.

However, this “advice” can actually have the opposite intended effect on autistic people.

The autistic brain thrives on constraints.

For as long as I can remember, everything in my life needed a clear start time and a clear end time. I would only ever start a task if I knew for certain I could complete it. I would only ever engage in sports or play games if I knew I had a high chance of winning.

I believe this die-hard commitment is part of the reason autistic people are so “successful” at eating disorders – the moment we decide to diet, restrict, exercise, lose weight, {fill in ED behavior here}, we’re committing ourselves for the long haul.

When I first experienced extreme hunger in ED recovery, I felt a complete loss of identity. I couldn’t believe how I’d “let myself go” like that.

The one entity I’d be able to control for nearly a decade was now no longer a crutch. What’s more, is that I realized I would never be able to restrict again.

Even today, just the mere thought of dieting causes feasting inevitable adaptation to my years of famine.

While I scoured the internet, led by key phrases such as:

πŸ”Ž ate way too much ED recovery


πŸ”Ž bingeing anorexia recovery

I was met with the supposedly soothing advice that “there’s no such thing as too much food in eating disorder recovery.”

But my autistic brain could not comprehend this (much less make use of it) because there were no constraints to work within.

Just like continuing to weigh my food and counting calories was helpful for me in ED recovery (typically “forbidden” recovery behaviors, but can aid autistic people due to number attachment), setting food constraints was massively helpful.

Instead of saying “food is limitless,” I set my daily calorie limit to be 200,000 calories (yes, two hundred thousand).

Of course I knew I would never eat that much in one day, but by setting a number so high it almost became arbitrary, I was able to honor extreme hunger without the infinite incomprehension of what “unrestricted eating” meant.

I know this explanation is incredibly nuanced, but that’s exactly how the autistic brain works.

My mind is always connecting everything, seeking similarities, distinctions, and complexities amongst it all.

This constant processing πŸ§  can be exhausting, but it’s also the gift that’s allowed me to express myself in ways through which I can connect with others.

If you want a deeper understanding of my autistic thought processes (and how this led to anorexia), be sure to grab your copy of my book Rainbow Girl!

Want to learn how to navigate ED recovery as an autistic person?

Listen toΒ my FREE TRAINING teaching you how to use your autistic traits to your advantage in ED recovery πŸ’ͺ