The Dietician’s Role In Managing Eating Disorders

It has long been thought that the dietician’s only a role, is to assist weight loss!
A qualified and registered dietician is trained in all aspects of health and therefore, astute in the management of diverse eating disorders.

Many of us have a disturbed relationship with food and disordered eating occurs across a range of mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and the more commonly known eating disorders, such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge eating disorder and others that may not fit the specific criteria. The causes of these eating disorders are complex and multifactorial. Eating disorders cause significant emotional distress and impairment to the affected person and their family and loved ones.

Dietitians are able to assess and manage all types of eating disorders and disordered eating behaviours.
A dietitian’s role is one of education, guidance and support. Clients are taught to trust their body’s natural hunger and satiety signals and respond appropriately, rather than using fad diets and calorie trackers as a guide. It’s important that food is understood in terms of maintaining a healthy body and mind, rather than being a reward, a means of control or comfort. The dietician helps debunk common food and diet myths and navigate the misinformation provided by the media, that is based on the diet culture and stigma surrounding body weight.

In the treatment of eating disorders, the dietitian provides meal plans, recipes, assists with refeeding and provides an understanding of the nutritional requirements for recovery.

Dietitians play an especially important role in managing disordered eating. In these cases, a specific diagnosis is less evident, but emotional distress is caused by the disturbed patterns of eating inclusive of yo-yo dieting, weight cycling, restrictive eating patterns, skipping meals or feeling confused and stressed about meals and eating. Alternatively, severe emotional turmoil can cause disordered eating, poor body image, body loathing and destructive behaviours such as bingeing, substance abuse and food addictions.

For many people eating is no longer a pleasurable, natural experience and food not simply a source of nourishment and fuel. The brain requires energy to function and when not fed properly, can result in mental fatigue, cognitive slowing and delusional thinking.

Having a healthy relationship with food and “food freedom” plays a tremendous role in improving mental health. A dietician can assist in restoring balance – reach out to one today!

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