What's A Normal Portion Size?

I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out if I'm eating too much food. I have been bulimic for about 15 years and now I'm trying my hardest to stop but I feel like any food is too much food. When I feel like it's too much then the urge to purge comes rushing back. Please someone help me, I need a guideline so I know if I should be freeking out or if it's just me being crazy.

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12 Replies

  • Please contact the abc helpline and leave a message to get the meal plans that are available from them. You are on the right lines for recovery and the plans can help. This will also assist in getting your mind around the purging. Best wishes - you will do it!

  • Thank you so much for your help, I'd been on the ABC website to try and find a group but I didn't know they did any meal plans. I'm not sure why but I find it alot easier to follow a plan then figure it out day by day. Thank you so much

  • Hello,

    I do not know if this can help you however it helps me. I think what you should do is to plan your meals. By planing you know for sure that the total that you take it will not be more than what you need. Another way which I think helps a lot too is to make sure that each of your meals contain protein, carbs and veg. Half veg than 1/4 carb and 1/4 protein. if you follow this last advise I can ensure you , you will never over eat and all your meals will be balanced.

  • Hi

    I think the balance is what I have the biggest problem with,

    the idea of planning everything is perfect for me I like the regiment

    and knowing I don't have to worry about what's in it, but I have a big

    problem with carbs, vegetables while containing minerals and vitamins

    are essentially carbs, so in my head it works out to 3/4 plate of carbs

    and 1/4 protein. That's hard to eat. I hope you don't mind me asking but what kind of carbs do you have? I'm not good with starchy carbs but if there's something I could substitute them with maybe I could so being stupid about it.

    Thank you for your help, I really appreciate it.

  • Mm.. I am sure that if you look online, you will be able to find all the nutrition and therefore will be easy for you to create healthy and tasty meal in according to what you like. If you do no like carbs (from starchy products, ) at least try to get them from veg. For example green peas are an excellent source of carbs. They are complex and therefore will keep you running longer. What I had today was a great meal for example .. it was made by rice peas and turkey eggs and some nuts. all together very balanced and it was no more than 500 kcals. some veg reach of carbs are carrots and peppers. Look online I am sure you will find products that you look and balanced.

  • There is no such thing as a "normal portion size" Part of the recovery process is starting to judge for yourself how much you want to put on your plate. Recovery is about regaining control of your mind and body.There are no such things as "good and bad foods" Recovery is about starting to lose the fear of food.

    I know from personal experience how hard it is to wrestle control away from the ED and to "own" our mind and body again. The road to recovery is incredibly hard. But it also takes incredible willpower to live with and maintain an ED. That willpower to be ill, can be also used to make is well again. It is turning the negative into a positive.

    That is far from easy, but it sounds you are doing that.I would suggest that you forget about ideas about normal sizes. There are no such things. Try and find a balance, or try and experiment yourself on portioning your food out. Try to get used to making choices again. That is, YOU make the choice and not the ED. This is what we do when we are well.Some days I have larger portions and other days I portion smaller.

    I remember vividly my black and white thinking,and when I see clients, the commonly talk about "good" and "bad" Theres no middle ground for them.

    Are you able to leave food on your plate, or do you always have to clear your plate? If its the latter then give yourself less next time. In that way, if you clear your plate, you are still eating less. Find a portion size you yourself are comfortable with. It is not easy, but you are the best person to judge, and not some notional portion size guide.

    It is a terrible struggle to recover. For many of us, it is easier to stay ill. But when you finally get there, a new world opens. And that is worth fighting for.

    Take care and good luck


  • Hi Mark

    I want to thank you firstly for what you're doing in opening up a completely revolutionary treatment centre, I read about what you're doing and I'd love

    to see the same thing down where I am (Kent) The treatment for eating disorders is so appallingly underfunded and misunderstood, I know generations of people will be grateful for what you're doing to change that.

    I like what you're saying about taking back the choice.

    That it's my decision, not the ED or the government.

    Seems crazy to think I'd rather listen to a disorder than listen to my internal voice, but it is the fear. what if I'm wrong, what if I'm being tricked,

    the fear seems to paralyse me sometimes.

    But I'll work on it, like you said, not thinking about the food being good or bad, just enjoying it as food.

    As for clearing my plate, I don't ever do that. I always have to leave food, usually it'll be the part of the meal that's highest fat like cheese or potatoes but I do it with everything, even fruit and little things.

    I'll keep trying though, just knowing that it can get better, that I don't have to spend the rest of my life consumed by food and control issues and most of all that once you're out the other end you can help other people.

    I will keep striving for recovery.

    Thank you

  • Hi there

    Thanks for your support for my project. It is radical and revolutionary, but basically it's combination of what I would call old fashioned values, ideas, treatments etc. One of the therapists actually commented that a lot of is just common sense. We will be doing a lot of the project outdoors. We are creating an organic garden to grow,eat and sell our own produce. We will go walking and as users get stronger this will turn into hiking. My work is stressful but when i get out into the beautiful Derbyshire Dales, all of my stress and anxiety simply goes away. Walking as a group fosters teamwork, trust, dependency,caring many many things that all lead to us getting our pride and self worth back.

    Our project is now officially running and we are a legally constituted group. therapists are all recruited, and we have the most amazing office for the day centre. This will be a living, fluid place that the users will own themselves. this will be there space. the dat centre will also be an organic arts project. Everyone i speak to is captivated by the project. I wont have people involved who are just there for the money, or the smell of money.We are all getting paid much less than usual. This is to help the project get started and it also demonstrates a sense of altruism. I don't anyone involved who doesnt share our vision. It is time to show people that caring and giving is better than just taking. The project is structured at facilitating gentle, natural recovery where food and weight gain are not the focus of recovery. I want to create the conditions where users naturally gain weight. I guarantee that absolutely no-one will ever get weighed on this project. If users choose to do that at home then that is their choice.

    The major obstacle will begetting the funding necessary to start treating people.

    I have introduced an early intervention program into the project. NHS ED services all place arbitrary BMI qualifying restrictions on treatment. It usually is around 16 or lower!!! The reason that ED sufferers are so resistant to treatment is becuase by the time they are seen by the ED team the ED has a full grip on them. NICE guidelines and even the Royal Collage of Psychiatry are calling for early intervention services. There are none at all in Derbysgire and all the surrounding areas. I would sincerely love to have the NHS on board.All i can do is approach them and then its up to them. But if they do come on board they wont have any influence on our approach.

    The project is called

    "A New Way Forward. The Derbyshire Eating Disorders Project"

    you may read about it here


    I think you are doing brilliantly. The thought of getting better can be scarier than remaining ill. It takes time and patience to fully recover. After my anorexia had gone, it took me four years to physically recover. I seriously damaged my body. But the human body is an incredible thing. it can withstand so much and its is resilient. So keep on what you are doing and take back your body and mind. Anytime you need some support, just send me an email and I will get back to you asap.

    The weather here is magnificent today and I am just sat in my garden writing and relaxing as I sizzle away.

    take it from me, recovery is worth all of the effort and pain it takes to get there.

    My thoughts are with you


  • Hi Mark

    Your project sounds incredible, I get what you're saying about the common sense side of it.

    Most people who deal with and treat anorexics and bulimics just want to skate over the real issues, sighting that recovery will only happen once the individual is at an appropriate weight.

    Where as, you and I and hundreds of others know

    reaching a healthy weight is impossible unless

    the underlying issues are addressed.

    I'm a personal trainer (hypocritical I know) but I always tell people that mental clarity through exercise or just being outdoors can but so freeing.

    I love the idea of the organic garden as well, I have an allotment and it's helped my to feel more comfortable with what I'm eating. Knowing exactly where it comes from, also the responsibility that comes from looking after a living things is a wonderful start to feeling in control again. It's a symbiotic relationship we have with plants and animals and feeling like I was helping something rather than just destroying everything around me was really nice.

    I have hope for the future, I still don't have any faith in the NHS but I do think that real people, like you, who are willing to help, not for reward, just so they know they're helping, will change the way EDs are treated in the future.

    You're an inspiration, a source of strength and a god amongst men, I will keep you in my thoughts, and I will keep all the people you're helping in my heart too, they're in good hands.

    Thank you for giving me hope.

  • We must never lose sight of hope. I am feeling a little discouraged myself now. I have costed the project at £75000 needed to run it for a year. I just don't know where we will get that kind of money. Thats the minimum cost with the staff all working for peanuts. I have worked on this non stop now for eight weeks without any pay and its the real world where we have bills to pay. I have asked for practical help from people such as BEAT and the CVS. Beat just ignored my last email and the CVS came to my office and promised lots of help. And then when I asked for they gave none. Theres only so much I can do. I have no experience in fundraising or filling in the endless forms.None whatsoever. Theres a big fundraisers fair tomorrow in Derby with all the major fund givers there.I have no idea how to approach them, what the protocols are etc. I asked the CVS what the dress code is at these events, casual or smart. They even seemed reluctant to tell me that.

    I have to carry on but right now is just feel very discouraged/

    It costs the NHS more in a week than we want in a year to treat EDS for 12 patients.

    And lets face it they don't do a very good job of it.

  • Hi Mark

    Sorry for the late reply, I've had a bad couple of days. I met up with a psychologist, to discuss my experience of seeking treatment for bulimia, which in itself was a really good thing, I just got very anxious and it ended up triggering all my old behaviours. I'm hoping the more people trying to take a different approach to treatment the better it will get.

    I told her about your project (I hope you don't mind) and she seemed very encouraged. Hopefully the more exposure you can get, the more receptive people will be to help with funding. Unfortunately I've encountered the same problems with fundraising. I tried a couple of years ago to hold a Fundraising 5K, to allow me to start a trauma support centre. People seemed so unwilling to help, even with just giving me any advice, let alone parting with money.

    I will say though enlist the help of your family, friends and anyone you can get hold of and keep approaching businesses. I found that magazine editors tended to be more helpful, in that they wanted to support a worthy project, maybe newspapers and magazine round your area could help with advertising for an event. I know you've probably been through all of this, I just wish I could help more. I wish it wasn't so hard, but I have faith in what you're doing and it's so important to the people you're helping, the world will take note and good fortune is sure to follow.

  • I will get myself back together for this. I don't to prove the NHS or anyone else wrong. I know that something different has to be done to treat EDs in the UK.

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