Nutrition Therapy for Eating Disorders
Bring Balance Back to Eating
Nutrition therapy is an integral part of the eating disorder (ED) treatment and recovery process. The primary role of nutrition therapy is to assist our clients in creating healthy relationships with food and to create healthy eating patterns. Healthy eating encompasses
- Eating adequately to meet the body’s daily nutritional needs
- A balanced and sustainable relationship with food, free from negative or distorted thoughts about oneself
- Listening to and trusting your body’s internal cues to determine hunger and fullness
While underlying thoughts and emotions remain at the core of a person’s illness and recovery, their relationship with food, eating and nutrition can play a major role in inhibiting or promoting the recovery process. This is why we incorporate nutrition counseling with specially trained experts in our recovery plan. Our staff of Registered Dietitians (RD,) as part of an interdisciplinary team of professionals, support and assist individuals in meeting nutritional goals and progressing in recovery. The nutrition staff facilitate individual sessions tailored to each client’s unique struggle with food and eating, so whether you struggle with anorexia, bulimia, compulsive over eating, or disordered eating you'll have a plan that best suits your recovery needs.
But I already know all about nutrition…
We know. ;) And that's okay. Our clients are often nutrition gurus. While ED symptoms and behaviors vary from person to person and between different eating disorder diagnoses, an unhealthy focus on food and/or nutrition is often present. Individuals with EDs often have extensive and detailed knowledge about nutrition, but, as a result of the ED, may be applying it in ways that inhibit rather than promote their health. In other cases, individuals may be rigidly adhering to nutrition information that is inaccurate, misleading or dangerous. Below is a list of behaviors and experiences commonly observed in individuals with eating disorders.
- Chronic/Severe dieting
- Eliminating specific food items
- Eliminating entire food groups or categories of foods
- Obsessive calorie counting, monitoring of nutrition labels or precise measuring of foods
- Labeling foods as good vs. bad, clean vs. dirty, or relying on safe foods vs. fear foods
- Difficulty eating around other people or in social situations
- Extreme difficulty making decisions about food, as when ordering off of a menu at a restaurant
Hunger and Fullness: A Process of Healing
Individuals who have struggled with an eating disorder often lose touch with their body’s natural cues and signals regarding hunger and fullness; their metabolism, ability to process and regulate food, and enjoyment of food may also be disrupted. As part of the nutrition counseling process, meal plans and schedules are used to help provide support and structure as individuals work towards repairing their relationship with food and their body. Meal plans are utilized in various and individualized ways throughout treatment. Ultimately, as healthy eating is maintained and individuals learn to trust their bodies again RDs help clients move towards a practice of mindful and intuitive eating.