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How Dietitians Help People With Eating Disorders

Updated: Oct 6, 2023


Source: Democrat and Chronicle


Dangers of Eating Disorders


Eating disorders threaten your physical and mental health and we know they are more than just about food. An eating disorder often requires a team of professionals to treat the illness in order for the patient to get well. Many men and women have eating disorders and do not even realize they suffer from one.


There are many causes of eating disorders biological, genetic, environmental, stress, peer pressure, perfectionism bullying, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse, mental health issues, and cultural trends. In most cases a combination of factors causes an eating disorder in women and men.


When you or someone you know is being treated for an eating disorder or needs to seek treatment a dietitian is an important part of treatment. This is because they help change the person's relationship with food. Dietitians can help individuals recognize negative eating habits, plan meals, or offers ways to help individuals cope with issues around food during treatment.


Dietitians are trained in nutrition and can help create a menu, help plan meals, monitor weight, and overall health. They can help a patient develop a healthier relationship to food.


People with eating disorders develop rituals and patterns of eating that are not healthy. Some of these are restricting food, bingeing, purging, eating only low-fat foods, using weight loss supplements, and fear of gaining weight. A dietitian can help you with changing these behaviors to healthier choices.


Treatment for eating disorder range from inpatient, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient treatment. A dietitian works in all these environments with other staff members. A hospitalized patient may meet with a dietitian several times pers week. Outpatients often meet with a dietitian once a week.


Because relapse is high risk with eating disorders working with a dietitian can make a difference in recovery. Dietitians have the skills to normalize the person's eating patterns. Besides dietitians there are eating disorder special services that provide meal support and coaching in the home and when people go to restaurants. This service is available in many large cities.


Supplemental eating disorder services can help but is not a substitute for medical therapy and working with a dietitian. Dietitians can teach patients about the damage that eating disorders cause. They tailor the treatment to the individual needs as each person is unique.



Photo Source: Flicker Shoppers Food Warehouse


Dietitians can help the patient overcome fears and misconceptions about food. They can help them learn to enjoy healthy eating and meal planning. They work with the person's doctors, therapist and other medical professionals to help with recovery. Food is an essential part of recovering from an eating disorder.


Benefits of a Registered Dietitian For Eating Disorders


  • Meal Planning-Each patient is different, and dietitians can help patients plan meals suited to their situation. Shopping and choosing foods may be overwhelming to someone with an eating disorder. Dietitians can help the with this process and give them an organizational structure to work with. They will help them choose healthier food and focus on nutrition.


Source: 101 Planners


  • Nutritional counseling-A dietitian will focus on vitamins, minerals, and fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, poultry, and fish designed to help rebuild your health. They can help individuals change bad eating habits for healthier ones.


  • Weight Monitoring-They can check your weight to see that the program you on is working. Whether you have to gain weight or lose they will help you move toward your goal.


  • Food Counseling- They work with changing your eating habits to more healthy choices. Dietitians try to find a way to help you change your ideas about food to a more positive outlook. Every person is different, so they try different techniques and customize the treatment to each person.



Tips From Dietitians For Individuals Recovering From Eating Disorders


Photo Source: Wikipedia

  • When you have trouble shopping for food or planning meals shop with a family member or friend.

  • Prepare and eat meals with a family member or friend. Share food preparation and recipes.

  • When you cannot cook or don't want to you can buy healthy premade meals from supermarkets.

  • If you dine out go with another person if you can. Plan what you want to eat ahead.

  • Try to choose healthy foods that you like to eat.


Resources


A Dietitians Role With Eating Disorder Patients Dietitians on Demand


Eating Disorders Academy of Nutrition


The Role of the Dietitian In Eating Disorder Treatment by Timberline Knolls Staff Media Inc.


Meal Planning For Eating Disorder Recovery, Very Well Mind by Laura Muhlheim, PsyD. CEDS


Meal Plan Tips For Eating Disorder Recovery, Patient





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