National Eating Disorders Association

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Can't stop thinking about food

I'm a recovering anorexic, after dropping a significant amount of weight my parents encouraged me to see a dietician who showed me my anorexia I didn't even know I had. I was resistant to treatment at first but am now feeling like I'm nourishing my body well and have gotten back to a more normal weight, don't constantly restrict, etc.
My question is about being on the "brink" of recovery, I don't feel as strong urges to restrict or feel extreme fear of some foods anymore, and while these behaviors are still somewhat present, I'm mostly concerned that I am thinking about food ALL of the time. Even when it's not in a restrictive way, it still is on my brain way more than a normal person and I can't seem to get over it. It varies between sometimes restricting, sometimes eating small meals because I'm "bored" or excited that I don't feel so oppressed by anorexia anymore and can enjoy more foods, and eating pretty large portions and not being able to tell if I'm full/satisfied or not.
I know you lose a lot of hunger cues with anorexia, but I just want to be able to go about my life without thinking about food, it almost feels like restricting made it better because then i had some sort of structure rather than absentmindedly thinking about different things I could cook just for the hell of it, etc. It mostly comes when I'm alone/not occupied, which seems somewhat normal, but still I'd like to be able to eat balanced meals and recover without having food constantly on the brain! Anyone else have similar thoughts?

A lot like me

I, too, have gained the weight I needed and no longer starve myself. Unfortunately, my mind keeps telling me that I'm going to gain weight if I don't watch it, so I try to eat as little as possible while staying in a healthy range of how much I eat, if that made any sense. My battle with the thoughts are more about wanting so desperately to lose weight and look better, even though I know I should not lose weight. Bulimia has now become a problem, too, in connection with all of that. If I do think I ate too much or ate something that had maybe too many calories, then I exercise like my life depended on it, trying so hard to not gain even an ounce from whatever I ate. It's a rough kind of lifestyle to battle, isn't it?

Can't stop thinking about food AND a lot like me

Dear mkt6da AND ahepler,

First of all I want to applaud you both for not only sharing your challenges through this supportive forum that will surely inspire others that are currently struggling with an eating disorder and some phase of their own recovery. I too can relate, as I battled and survived my ED. I remember how physically and emotionally exhausting it is to feel as though your entire life is centered on food and consumes almost your every thought!

Just know that recovery is definitely a process and it is not uncommon to have some setbacks. However, give yourself the credit you both deserve for the wonderful progress you've made. You are "choosing" to create a healthy and loving relationship for yourself. Life is richer and fuller when live a life free of and ED. I'm including a link that I've found incredibly helpful regarding the recovery process. I hope it provides insight and hope as you continue through your recovery. Keep up the great work. You both deserve an ED-free life!!

Are you both seeing therapists, or part of a support group in which you can share your thoughts? I found it helpful to read or write in my journal to release those thoughts out of my mind and it also helped me to better process my feelings and thoughts.Perhaps you might want to try this!?! Or, do something that you really enjoy, or are passionate about when you find yourself overwhelmed with thoughts surrounding food.

I would also encourage you to feel free to reach out to the NEDA Helpline to share your thoughts and receive additional feedback from their trained, compassionate and supportive volunteers. Their number is #1.800.931.2237 (Mon.-Thurs. 9am-9am/Frid. 9am-5pm EST).

Please keep us posted on how you both are doing. You are never alone! We are all here for you and ready to help!

Healing hugs,
Legacy of Love

To Legacy of Love

Thank you for your encouraging words. For the past three years, I have been not only a trained leader but also a participant of Celebrate Recovery, which is a faith-based recovery program for "hurts, habits, and hang-ups", as their mission states. It is a 12-step program like AA and NA, but it is done by Christians and is for many problems beyond the alcohol and drugs. People come with problems like codependency, sex addiction, low self-esteem, and anger problems, but there has never been anyone who I can relate to who has and ED. For that reason, it has been very frustrating to me to not have anyone who can relate to the struggles I'm going through. I am glad that I found this website to be able to relate to others and get advice. I will probably call your agency's number in the near future.

you are on the right track!

I completely agree with LegacyofLove! For me, recovery was about the physical aspects of maintaining a healthy weight and healthy eating habits that could nourish me but also the mental aspects of not letting food be the center of all my thoughts. Even though this mental part of recovery isn't physically noticeable to others, it is definitely just as important in my opinion so I'm really glad that you are both aware of your struggles with it - that is a crucial first step and shows that you both have insight into the obstacles of recovery! Like LegacyofLove, I also think that seeing a therapist or other professional who you can talk through these struggles with would be beneficial. After all, they specialize in helping people overcome these types of roadblocks and have the experience and knowledge to arm you with advice and tools to use. The NEDA Helpline is also a great resource that you can use to find more information on finding this type of support.

In the meantime, here are some links that may be helpful as well:
Positive body image:
Sharing with others:
Recovery and relapse prevention:

It's encouraging and inspirational to hear that you're both on your recovery journey - keep going!

me too :(

I'm going through exactly the same thing. It's overwhelming and exhausting and sometimes I feel like this is just another kind of hell. I want to be free of fpod thoughts and I just can't seem to shake it. It helps me to exercise and spend the day with friends so I just eat what they eat.

Hey ritzcracker,

Hey ritzcracker,
I understand where you’re coming from. We all have overwhelming and exhausting days or periods in our lives. For most of us here it’s usually eating-related but most people who have never experienced this horrible disorder also feel overwhelmed and exhausted sometimes. You’re not alone. It’s great that you have friends to help support and structure your day. That can be a huge help for me as well. It’s wonderful to know you’re so loved! Regarding your thoughts, if you’re not currently speaking to a professional, perhaps you can consider finding someone to help sort these thoughts that get the better of all of us now and again. Along with posting in these forums, speaking with someone directly can be a really helpful tool for some people. It’s worth a shot! You can start by giving NEDA a call at 800-931-2237. They can help you identify professionals in your area. They’re available Mon-Thurs 9 am to 9 pm and Friday 9 am to 5 pm.

I hope this helps a bit and always remember (and believe!) that recovery is a healing process.

Obviously it's going to be

Obviously it's going to be different for everyone, but personally I've found that focusing on growing in other ways and being with people helps me to stop thinking about food all the time? This has literally been the MAIN thing that has helped me dive headfirst into recovery, aged 18, after 9 years of binge-purge subtype anorexia (the past 4 years have been spent attempting to recover and not doing particularly well at it). The past 3 weeks I've had the words 'meet, speak, experience. learn, love, heal, enjoy' written as bullet points on my hand. the point being that I focus on these instead of on food, although food does come into the 'heal' part in a positive way! Instead of trying NOT to think about food (have you heard of ironic process theory?) I think about making up for the things that I lost to my eating disorder- all the experiences, the books that I've wanted to read, places I've wanted to go and see, topics I've wanted to learn about, learning the guitar, helping people, being able to just spend time with people and just be present focusing on enjoying their company instead of thinking about food, you name it! Whatever works for you! I have been working towards recovery and I've done HUNDREDS of things that I would never having done before (even just bloody resting) by deciding to fill my days with positive things- even if I super don't feel like it at times

Hi! First of all, huge

Hi! First of all, huge congrats on your progress thus far. I can understand how aggravating those persistent thoughts are. My first response is that when we are not eating enough our brains naturally gravitate towards food. Even non-eating disordered people find that. So I would encourage you to make sure that you eat at regular intervals and have enough. Did the nutritionist come up with a meal plan or are you trying to be more flexible?
My second thought is that perhaps you need some distractions. When you are alone at home, do you try to engage in any crafts, reading, that sot of thing? That can help.
Recovery can be a long, "pita" process ;-). I hope you will be patient and keep on doing what has worked so far. You are amazing to have come thus far :).


Hi mkf6da,

Whether you're restricting or thinking about food nonstop, your mind and body are out of balance. I've experienced the same. It is a preoccupation with food, weight, numbers, etc. With some support, I know you can build a greater understanding of what is going on and how best to work through it. NEDA Helpline can help! All you have to do is call 1-800-931-2237. The hours are Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (EST). Best of luck to you!


So the thing is... I have tried every fitness workout/diet/trend known to man. If you can think about it.... I have failed at it. All I can think of is food. So my thing is this.... I work out every day for an extended period of time at the gym. Meticulously weigh and count calories, fat, carbs. Friends and family are concerned. I am not thin by any means.... I am just trying to get healthy and sometimes it is so frustrating. I feel guilty in almost everything I eat. What helps? what can I do to shake some of these negative feelings of guilt and shame off of me? Like.... ugh. Rant over.


Hi Alleyrocksout247,

Welcome to the forums! We are really glad you are here. I am sorry you have been feeling so much guilt and shame around food. It does seem like there could be something deeper going on here. Regardless of not appearing underweight, it seems like many people have expressed their concern & are clued in to how much these thoughts are affecting your daily life significantly- so it is definitely something to pay attention to. When did you find this attitude started? Have you talked with anyone about this- someone you trust? Would you be open to perhaps exploring these issues of guilt/shame with a counselor? It's not an easy solution or fix unfortunately to get rid of these feelings, but I think the key here is becoming more aware of what is driving this mindset.

Know that you can always come here & we are here for you! Please keep us posted on how you're doing <3


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Hi allyrocksout247, your post has been edited to comply with our community guidelines: Before you continue using the forums for support, please review our page on Sharing Your Story Responsibly: Users are not allowed to post specific numbers pertaining to food or exercise, as this is likely to be triggering for other forum users. Thank you for helping us keep this a safe space for everyone.