going all in for eating disorder recovery
  • April 14, 2023

Going ‘All In’ for Eating Disorder Recovery

Have you heard the term going ‘all in’ for eating disorder recovery? While some may be familiar with this phrase, […]

Have you heard the term going ‘all in’ for eating disorder recovery?

While some may be familiar with this phrase, others may not be aware with this style of recovery.

A well-known Youtuber, Sophie Buttermore, documented her ‘all in’ journey, causing the term to gain traction in the eating disorder space.

Our eating disorder dietitians at Imbodi Health understand that there are many types of recovery and what works for some may not work for others. This article will explore what it means to go ‘all in’ for eating disorder recovery, while looking at the benefits and potential complications for this style of treatment.

What Is ‘All In’ Eating Disorder Recovery?
What Does An ‘All In’ Approach Look Like For Eating Disorder Recovery?
Is Going ‘All In’ For You?


What Is ‘All In’ Eating Disorder Recovery?

‘All in’ is a term that relates to being completely committed to something, in this case, to recovery.

‘All in’ recovery requires the person living with the eating disorder (ED) to identify their restrictive behaviours and then actively choose to stop them.

For some, this can be quite an aggressive style of recovery as it requires the person to ‘attack’ their restrictions and/or compensation tactics instead of a more gradual and gentle approach.

‘All in’ requires you to say goodbye to diet culture and say ‘no’ to your ED voice while truly letting your body’s needs take priority.


What Does An ‘All In’ Approach Look Like For Eating Disorder Recovery?

  • Eating regularly – this includes eating 3 meals and snacks throughout the day, even if you’re not hungry. This is to help reintroduce your hunger and fullness cues while contributing to weight restoration (1)
  • Listening to your body – letting your body’s needs steer your intake. This means not counting calories or macros and letting your body’s needs take control.
  • Eating to physical AND mental satiety – this includes honouring cravings even if it means eating outside of physical hunger.
  • Lowering physical activity – rest is priority when going ‘all in’. For many, physical activity may be a compulsive or compensatory action in response to some form of restrictive behaviour. Ceasing physical activity may only be temporary, but crucial, as weight restoration is a major focus in this style of recovery (2).
  • Stop body checking – this includes weighing yourself, taking measurements and obsessively checking your body in the mirror or in photos.

With any type of eating disorder recovery, it is recommended to work alongside a trained professional like an eating disorder dietitian. If you’re yet to take the first steps and want to discover more, keep reading to learn about the pros and cons of going ‘all in’.

going all in for eating disorder recovery looks like eating regularly, listning to your body, lowering physical activity and stopping body checking



Some of the benefits of going ‘all in’ 

  • Giving yourself permission to eat all foods – including letting go of food rules and embracing all foods in the diet. This means no more ‘black and white’ thinking or believing that there are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods.
  • Listening to your body’s needs – being in tune with your body and trusting it to do what’s best. For example, being able to rely on and respond to natural hunger and fullness cues.
  • Overcoming fear foods – by allowing yourself to eat a wider variety of foods, you are able to start conquering ‘fear foods’ and develop a more neutral mindset toward eating.
  • Weight and nutrition restoration – this improves your energy levels, your period returning (if it had stopped) as well as improving lifelong health outcomes (3).
  • Normalised portions and volume of food – this helps weight restoration to occur in a shorter time frame and reintroduce hunger and fullness cues.
  • Giving yourself time to physically rest – while there are benefits to physical activity, taking time to rest can be important. This helps rewire the brain and the relationship with movement. This allows you to find other ways to spend time. This could include sitting outside at a park, reading, or seeing a friend (2).




Some of the drawbacks of going ‘all in’ for recovery

  • Mental health distress – eating disorders are a mental health condition first. By focusing on weight restoration, there may be some neglect on the psychological treatment of the ED.
  • Having to stop physical activity – there are many benefits of physical activity ranging from heart health to the strengthening of muscles and bones. Ceasing physical activity as part of the recovery process is important but may have some negative implications on physical wellbeing.
  • May increase urges of bingeing/purging – going ‘all in’ is a big change. If you start reintroducing foods without close support from an eating disorder dietitian or trained health professional, you may not have the skills to deal with urges yet. This could result in bingeing or purging to counter the increased food intake.
  • Medical risks – if you have lived with your ED for a long time, you may be in a state of malnutrition/chronic under nutrition. This can put you at risk of refeeding syndrome by going ‘all in’.

Refeeding syndrome is a metabolic disturbance that can send electrolytes into chaos (4).

Additionally, there may be medical risks if you have abnormal blood results or low heart rate (5). This is why it is important to work with a trained professional, like our Imbodi Health online dietitians.



Is Going ‘All In’ For You?

There can be different reasons for how someone may develop an eating disorder. As such, there are different ways to approach recovery.

When considering if the ‘all in’ approach is right for you, ask yourself:

  • Does the thought of going ‘all in’ excite you?
  • Do you trust your body to tell you what it needs?
  • Are you ready to let go of the behaviours your ED encouraged you to do?
  • Are you able to jump in and commit 100% to recovery?
  • Are you able to go on this journey with a trained health professional?


If these thoughts resonate with you, it may be a sign that you want to try an ‘all in’ approach.

It is important to state, you may have ambivalent feelings towards recovery and this is normal.

However, with that being said, the ‘all in’ approach may not be right if you:

  • Have a history of trauma or severe dietary restriction
  • Engage in significant compensatory behaviours (excessive exercise, purging, laxative use etc)
  • Are considered to be a medical risk if you go ‘all in’
  • The thought of going ‘all in’ terrifies you

Going ‘all in’ means doing the opposite of what your ED is telling you to do. While this style of treatment won’t be suitable for everyone, talking to a trained health professional can be a good place to start. Eating disorder recovery will look different for everyone.

For some, the timing may be right to take this approach, and for others, it may not.

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Starting your journey with recovery is a big step and knowing the right treatment option can be difficult. Choosing to read articles such as this one can be a good indicator that you want to get help.

If you’re ready to take the next step, book a free 15-minute discovery call with one of our eating disorder dietitians at Imbodi Health to see if going ‘all in’ is right for you.



Written by: Student dietitian Leanna Fyffe

Reviewed by: Dietitian Jade Wrigley

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