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Nutrition Therapy and Eating Disorders


by Mindy Nichols RD, LDN, CDE
Nutrition therapy is a critical component in the recovery from an eating disorder. Therapy with a qualified nutritionist will include discussions on current food intake and its adequacy to maintain health. Counseling also includes discussions of food restrictions, self-imposed food rules and personal attributes ascribed to foods. Locating a nutritionist with both knowledge and compassion for recovery is essential.

Licensed Nutritionists are counselors skilled in dietary evaluation, physical needs and education. Clients are given personal meal plans for improving weight and health. Behaviors and routines necessary to reach a healthy weight are practiced. Normalizing nutrient intake is critical to allow recovery to occur. Reaching a minimum body weight goal with adequate calories from a well-balanced eating plan is the way to ensure normal physical, intellectual and emotional health. Without a minimum intake of calories and nutrients making the simplest decision can prove difficult. This can impede recovery. All nutrients are required for the human body to function properly.

Nutrition work includes separating food intake and weight-related behaviors from feelings and emotional issues. Nutrition therapy in a collaborative, caring relationship provides clients with knowledge and skills which will feed the body for physical recovery. After that, the focus of therapy can move toward renewing a healthy self-esteem and self-worth.

Honest understanding of current food intake and emotional associations with foods is the first step in working with a nutritionist. Often, food records are requested. This is for evaluation of current eating habits, but also to improve food choice to meet the minimal needs of the body. Communication between a client and her nutritionist is a first and necessary step in developing a trusting counseling relationship. This is nutrition therapy, where honesty and caring communication about eating develop into a safe environment for recovery from eating disorders.
Mindy Nichols is a registered dietitian who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders in Winston-Salem, NC. Article submitted by Mindy Nichols, permission for use granted by Mindy Nichols.
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