No one chooses to have an eating disorder. Eating disorders are psychiatric disorders with serious medical complications and consequences.
In those who are prone to developing an eating disorder, the illness is often triggered by a change in eating habits such as going on a diet or eating more “healthfully” and a subsequent loss of weight. At first, the individual feels in control of of his or her eating and body, then the eating disorder takes control.
(Watch this short video by Judith Brisman, PhD, about the difference between disordered eating and eating disorders and the risk factors that can lead to the development of an eating disorder.)
Getting well isn’t easy, but recovery is possible.
Early diagnosis and treatment increase the likelihood of a good outcome.
A critical first step toward recovery is assembling a treatment team—a physician, psychotherapist and/or psychiatrist, and registered dietitian with experience and expertise in treating patients/clients with eating disorders.
If You Suspect an Eating Disorder
Discuss your concerns about the possibility of an eating disorder with your healthcare provider. A physician may have the information necessary to make a diagnosis, or may refer the client/patient to a psychiatrist, therapist and/or registered dietitian for assessment and evaluation.
The Dietitian’s Role in Treating Eating Disorders
During the first nutrition counseling session, I meet and talk with the client [if the client is under 18 years of age, or would like parental support, I also talk with the parent(s)] and gather information in order to assess the client’s nutrition status. With the client’s/parent’s consent, I share my nutrition assessment with the physician and other members of the treatment team to facilitate a diagnosis and treatment plan. During the first phase of treatment, follow-up nutrition counseling appointments are scheduled on a weekly basis.
The Importance of Nutrition
“Malnutrition, which is found in all EDs (eating disorders), is a serious medical condition, and nutritional rehabilitation is a fundamental component of treatment. For patients with restrictive eating behaviors and weight loss, weight restoration and nutritional rehabilitation are essential goals of treatment. For patients with binge and/or purge behaviors, weight stabilization and normalization of eating behaviors are critical.” – Up to the Plate: A F.E.A.S.T Family Guide to the Importance of Nutrition for Understanding and Treating Eating Disorders