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Nutritional Restoration: "The Magic Plate"

In the first stage of recovery, medical restoration to healthy weight is the primary goal of care. The Magic Plate is is a simple way of describing how caregivers provide meals and snacks to patients.  The planning, cooking, and serving is done without help or input from the patient, whose only job is to arrive at the table and eat. This loving technique can be effective because it intentionally relieves them of the anxiety they experience when they have to make decisions around food. 


Tips from Parents on

  • One parent rejoiced, “The magic plate helped get my Rachael well”.  

  • This parent explained how this approach relieves anxiety during refeeding, “We used the magic plate.  We prepared the meals and snacks and served it to our d (16 yo). .  …The magic plate takes all choice away from the child.  A person with anorexia will choose low cal, low nutrition food.  They need a certain amount of calories a day.  Having a choice often causes a lot of anxiety and taking away the choice is a relief (not that they say that right away).  If your daughter had cancer, you wouldn't ask her if she wanted chemotherapy.  You'd give it to her, even if she protested.  Food is your daughter’s medicine and she needs it frequently.

  • And this parent explained how the magic plate empowered her as her daughter’s caregiver, “I guess what I am saying is that even if you can't keep them from counting, you CAN keep them from choosing based on calorie counts by not having them choose at all and doing the magic plate thing. ….I knew what she was getting because I checked as I planned and cooked, but she could not figure it just by looking or eating. … What ended up happening was that we had made her calorie counting moot. … Eventually, calorie counting assumed less importance to her.  Her only job was to eat.

  • Another parent shares that her son rapidly improved when she used the magic plate approach,   “I set an initial calorie goal.  I prepared his plate for him, placed it in front of him and let him know that I expected him to eat it all.  He was so angry and resistant at first, but quickly realized we were completely serious about helping him get better.  I could tell it was a relief of sorts once he realized that we weren't going to back down on the eating.  We could tell a difference in his mental health within three days.  We quickly raised his caloric goal to between 2500 and 3000 calories a day.  It took 6 to 7 months for him to regain the 30 lbs he initially lost.  Meanwhile, his mental health improved every day/week.

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F.E.A.S.T. (FAMILIES EMPOWERED AND SUPPORTING TREATMENT OF EATING DISORDERS) | US +1 855-50-FEAST | Canada +1 647-247-1339 | Australia +61 731886675 | UK +44 3308280031

F.E.A.S.T. is registered as a nonprofit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. Information on this site is meant to support, not replace, professional consultation. Unless otherwise noted, content is edited by F.E.A.S.T. volunteers with assistance from our Professional Advisory Panel.

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