Do you have “fear” foods that you have been avoiding in ED treatment and recovery? How do you tell the difference between a real recovery coach and an influencer? What are the early steps that you can take to overcome your fear foods and create a healthier relationship with food? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini discusses “fear foods" with certified eating disorder recovery coach Meg McCabe.


Meg McCabe is a fully recovered CCI Certified (Carolyn Costin Institute) Eating Disorder Recovery Coach and Founder of the global online eating disorder recovery community, The Recovery Collective. Meg is also the Host of the Full and Thriving Podcast. Meg has a private 1:1 coaching practice and is a speaker, group facilitator and writer on the topics of mental health, recovery, community and personal empowerment.

Visit Meg's website and connect on Instagram. See also the Recovery Collective and connect on Instagram.


  • The danger of a skewed sense of worth 
  • How to spot and find REAL coaches 
  • What is a fear food? 
  • Be patient with yourself

The danger of a skewed sense of worth 

As a teenager and young woman, Meg was just about six feet tall. Her height was a stand-out feature of hers, and she felt like she had two choices; become a basketball player or a fashion model. She decided on the latter.  However, because she was placing all her self-worth and her sense of value on her appearance, she began developing an eating disorder as a way to achieve this “worthiness”.
I really tied my value as a person to my appearance and my size, and I really felt like in order to be valued, to be special, to be important, to be memorable, I had to be the thinnest person in the room, and the most fashionable. So, it was really a situation where the eating disorder was like the perfect tool for me to get there, right? (Meg McCabe) 
Meg was not able to sustain this lifestyle, and the eating disorder was so intense that Meg had to put herself into recovery to save herself.  For the rest of her career, Meg started speaking professionally and used the life experience and wisdom that she gained from recovering from her eating disorder which ended up resonating with so many people.

How to spot and find REAL coaches 

While there are many people who are certified, who take the time to learn before they help others, unfortunately, there are others who do not.  Many people can become coaches just because they want to, and not necessarily because they took the effort to certify and educate themselves fully. It is therefore important to learn how to differentiate the real coaches from the false ones. 
You can find recovery coaches who are legitimately certified, they have supervision hours, they have continuing education to maintain their certifications. And then there are also coaches out there who just stick up the sign in their front yard … And they’re not really trained … There are so many woo-woo people out there using the term and not helping people in a safe way. (Meg McCabe) 
Meg explains that sometimes it can feel challenging to call herself a coach since it’s not a pleasant idea to be associated with others who claim to be helpers but aren’t sincere or fully trained. However, Meg, is doing her best to be proactive as a coach and to work alongside her clients with their therapists, nutritionists, and doctors to ensure that they get the best and well-fitted treatment possible. 
A really well-trained recovery coach is not going to allow you to hire them if you do not already have a therapist and/ or a dietician on board. (Meg McCabe) 

What is a fear food? 

Meg explains that fear foods stem from the arbitrary rules that the eating disorder loves to enforce and choose as important.  Additionally, Meg explains that it is much safer - and more effective - to only begin challenging fear foods once you are eating more regularly and are on the road to recovery.  If you push yourself too far or too soon to try your fear foods when you haven’t got a stable recovery foundation to lean on, it could put you at risk. 
It doesn’t make sense for someone to necessarily be challenging themselves in that way when they haven’t started eating regularly or adequately. So, I want everyone listening to check in with themselves; are you focused on fear foods before you’re ready? (Meg McCabe)
However, once you are eating regularly and adequately, it can be fun to start compassionately challenging yourself to start trying out the foods that you were once afraid of, or used to avoid. Work closely with your team, whoever it may be; your therapist, dietician, and coach, to set out a list of goals and a short plan on how you will begin facing, overcoming, and even enjoying your fear foods again. 
If you really really want to recover, you need to be radically honest with yourself about how your eating disorder is going to come in and corrupt the challenge or the situation … Like I said, everyone listening here probably can relate to that. (Meg McCabe)  

Be patient with yourself 

One thing that Meg wants you to know is that recovery is going to take as long as it’s going to take, but don’t give up. When it gets tough, learn to rest - not quit. Build a team of support who you can lean on and who can support you while you continue taking action!


Visit Meg's website and connect on Instagram. See also the Recovery Collective and connect on Instagram. HEALING FROM DIETS, HEALTHY MOVEMENT, AND LISTENING TO YOUR BODY WITH LARA DAYS | BTB 184 Visit and submit your comment via voice message! Sign up for the free Behind The Bite Course Practice of the Practice Network Email Dr. Cristina Castagnini:


I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "Hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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