How to Evaluate a Nutrition Program in Eating Disorder Treatment?

Organic fruits and vegetables used in Orthorexia and Healthy Eating to prevent Starvation Symptoms

Eating disorders are associated with severe disturbances in people’s eating behaviors along with an unhealthy preoccupation with food, body weight, and self-image and body shape. Hence, each patient’s relationship with food and nutrition can play an influential role in the recovery process which is why it is essential to know how to evaluate a nutrition program.

Despite the variations in eating disorder symptoms and behaviors across patients and diagnoses, an unhealthy insight toward food and/or nutrition remains to be an influential underlying factor.

Even though patients with disordered eating possess detailed and extensive knowledge about nutrition, they may most likely be using it in a manner that is inhibiting rather than furthering their well-being. In some cases, the patients may be inflexibly clinging to inaccurate or misleading nutritional information.

This is why incorporating nutritional counseling and therapy with the help of specialized experts at every level of the treatment program is imperative.

What is Nutritional Therapy?

When a person begins to evaluate a nutrition program, it is important to learn about nutritional therapy and its role in recovery. Nutritional therapy is an extremely important part of the eating disorder treatment and crucial for a sustainable recovery. It prioritizes the normalization of each patient’s eating patterns in order to reinforce healthier dietary habits.

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This includes:

  • Adequate intake of food to meet the body’s everyday nutritional needs
  • Targeting negative thoughts about self-image by introducing a balanced and sustainable relationship
  • Attuning to the body’s subliminal and internal cues that shape hunger and fullness

A comprehensive nutritional program must include:

  • Education on the science of nutrition and balancing nutrients in diet
  • Developing an understanding of metabolism and other body functions
  • Identifying problematic beliefs about food and body image
  • Recognizing associated physical ailments such as high blood pressure and constipation among many others
  • Structured meal plans and learning how to prepare them
  • Learning how to overcome fears about eating in social situations
  • Understanding portion control and balanced eating of a variety of foods
  • Distinguishing between physical and emotional hunger cues as patients work on intuitive eating
  • Healthy exercise goals alongside addressing any challenges related to physical activity
  • Requirements and assessments of nutritional supplements
  • Constructing individualized plans for continued support and therapy

Understanding the role of Registered Dieticians

To evaluate a nutrition program, it is important to understand the role of a Registered Dietitian. Registered Dietitians (RD) as part of an interdisciplinary team of professionals, help patients with disordered eating meet their nutritional goals in recovery. The nutrition staff facilitates educational and supportive groups alongside individual sessions specified to each patient’s struggle with food.

This involves therapy, experiential sessions, and educational seminars. Throughout the nutritional program, opportunities are facilitated for patients to incorporate and practice the new balanced approach to eating.

As part of the nutrition counseling process, RDs also help with meal plans and schedules used to help provide support and structure. Meal plans are utilized in various and individualized ways throughout the treatment programs to understand optimal nutrient intake with becoming preoccupied with it.

Lady making a meal and learning to Evaluate a Nutrition ProgramEventually, as normalized eating is maintained, and patients learn to trust their instincts, the RDs help them move toward a practice of mindful and intuitive eating.

Looking ahead

Eating disorders are complex, and so is recovering from them. It takes a multidisciplinary approach with a close eye on the underlying factor driving the disorder in the first place. Nutrition is one such influential factor and needs to be addressed accordingly.

Developing a deeper understanding of nutrition is part of learning about your body, its relationship with food, and how its functionality is influenced by your eating patterns. This is crucial for a sustained recovery.

When deciding upon a recovery program for your or a loved one’s eating disorder, it is essential to know more about the nutritional program as part of recovery. Make an informed and empowered decision to regain control of your life and acquire practical skills you can utilize to continue recovery after returning home.


References

1. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml
2. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/introduction-nutritional-therapy
3. https://eatingdisorder.org/treatment-and-support/therapeutic-modalities/nutritional-therapy/


About the Author:

Sana Ahmed ImageSana Ahmed is a journalist and social media savvy content writer with extensive research, print, and on-air interview skills. She has previously worked as a staff writer for a renowned rehabilitation institute, a content writer for a marketing agency, an editor for a business magazine and been an on-air news broadcaster.

Sana graduated with a Bachelors in Economics and Management from the London School of Economics and began a career of research and writing right after. Her recent work has largely been focused upon mental health and addiction recovery.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed & Approved on June 27, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC
Published June 27, 2019, on EatingDisorderHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.