Common Questions and More Information about Meal Support Groups
Support animals and pets are welcome to join too!
- Lauren RD, meal support facilitator
Do I have to have a specific eating disorder to join this group?
No! We know eating disorders come in many different forms and while treatment for them differs, the act of eating is pretty similar, regardless of the diagnosis. All bodies need to eat food, in adequate amounts. Whether you struggle with AN, BN, BED, ARFID or an unspecified eating disorder, this group is here to support you in eating a complete meal. Click here to talk about whether or not meal support may be helpful to you with meal support facilitator, Registered Dietitian Lauren Wenderoth (she/her).
Support meal vs therapeutic meal - what’s the difference?
This is a supported meal. It is not a “therapeutic meal” or treatment group. You will not receive specific or individualized dietary guidance from the facilitator, nor will you be required to eat specific foods or a certain amount of food. You will be encouraged to set your own intentions for the meal and do your best to fulfill those. You may choose to share those intentions or keep them private.
Some example intentions are:
to complete 100% of your meal
to eat an amount prescribed by your own dietitian
complete an “exposure” to a feared or restricted food
or to simply show up and eat with people who understand that eating can be hard.
What to expect during the meal group:
Come with your food prepped and ready to eat. To minimize distractions, we ask that once group starts, you do your best to stay seated while eating.
We will begin the group with a brief 3-5 minute guided relaxation exercise. This helps our brains settle so we can turn off our “fight or flight” response and turn on the “rest and digest” part of our nervous system. If you join late, no problem. The facilitator may keep you in the waiting room until the guided relaxation is over to avoid disturbing participants who are trying to access that zen energy!
If there are any new members, we’ll briefly review the group guidelines and commitments to ensure we’re all on the same page about how to create a safe, supportive eating environment.
Next we’re ready to eat! We know this part is hard, but we’ll keep it simple. We won’t discuss eating disorders, diets, numbers, exercise, etc while eating. We’ll also stay away from stressful topics. We’ll get to know each other, talk about that new great Netflix show, and share the fun adventures people have coming up. Please refer to group guidelines and commitments for more info on the do’s/don'ts for meal time discussion.
Once you have completed your meal, you can leave if you would like. We understand some people are busy and can’t stay a full hour, while others may want or need to stay the full time to sit with compensatory urges that may come up after the meal, or just to engage in a great conversation. Either way is ok, just say a quick goodbye when you’re ready to go so we can acknowledge the great work you’ve done!
What happens if I can’t finish my meal?
We know this happens to people at various stages of recovery, and for various reasons. If you haven’t finished your meal by the end of the hour, we encourage you to stay put and do your best to finish before you move on to your next task. If it’s apparent that you are eating very little during the meal, the facilitator will reach out to you privately before you attend another group to discuss if this is the right group for you.
What happens if I freak out during the meal? What if it’s just too much?
If you feel you’re getting outside of your window of tolerance, you can ask for support from others, or you can leave the group at any time. Please note that the facilitator will not be able to check in with you outside of the group. If this occurs, we encourage you to have a plan in place for how to take care of yourself and communicate with your treatment team.
Is this group right for me?
While we’d love to dine with anyone who struggles, this group is not appropriate for everyone.
The group is likely a good fit for you if:
You have been diagnosed with an eating disorder or struggle with disordered eating behaviors (this includes dieting) and are wanting support with eating normally.
You have an outpatient dietitian or therapist who has recommended meal support, but not at a higher level of care (e.g. IOP or residential program).
You can generally complete a full meal in 30-45 minutes, if you feel safe and supported.
You have a good sense of what a “complete” meal looks like for your body - i.e. what and how much you need to eat.
You know you are more likely to eat adequately when you are not alone for meals and when others model normal eating.
You’re likely not ready for this group if:
You are rarely able to eat a complete meal in 30-45 minutes.
You have no interest in challenging yourself to eat more adequately, or to reintroduce foods you’ve restricted for a long time.
Your outpatient treatment team/provider has recommended you seek a higher level of care for an eating disorder.
*You don’t know what or how much is considered an adequate amount for you.
*Note: if you feel this group is a great fit for you EXCEPT you aren’t sure how much to eat for a meal, our facilitating dietitian can offer you brief guidance on what to bring for lunch during the introductory call. This free 15 min zoom info session is required for anyone interested in joining who is not a current client at Dr. Daisy & Co. If the dietitian is not able to determine your needs or you have more questions than can be answered in this time, she may recommend an initial assessment prior to joining the group.
If you are new to our practice, are not currently working with a dietitian at Dr. Daisy & Co, or have never attended a meal support group, please schedule a free 15 minute meal group intro session (click here).
Current clients referred by a dietitian in our practice do not need to schedule a meal group intro session prior to registering for a meal group, but may do so to meet the facilitator or ask questions in advance.
Ready to join?
See & register for upcoming lunch and dinner groups here.