Medical Nutrition Therapy for Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is a complex mental illness that encompasses many different factors. A person who struggles with binge eating disorder does not simply have an issue with overindulging or lack of will power.

Binge eating disorder can impair a person’s life in multiple ways, including physically, emotionally, psychologically, mentally, financially, socially and more.

Because of the complexity of this mental illness, seeking out professional help and treatment is a necessary component of finding recovery and healing.

Nutritional Treatment

Professional treatment for binge eating disorder will involve the collaboration of multiple professionals, including a therapist/counselor, medical doctor, psychiatrist, and registered dietitian. Each of these professionals works in their area of specialty to help address a concern that a person with binge eating disorder is facing.

While addressing each area of concern is vitally important to the recovery process, the collaboration efforts of these professionals helps ensure a complete and well-rounded approach to binge eating recovery.

One aspect of binge eating disorder recovery focuses on the nutritional components with a registered dietitian. Nutritional rehabilitation or medical nutrition therapy is a therapeutic approach to the treatment of eating disorders (as well as other medical conditions) that utilizes specific dietary recommendations for healing as well as incorporates diet therapy counseling.

Because there are typically abnormal and harmful eating habits that are seen with binge eating, medical nutrition therapy is an important part of the recovery process.

Dietitian Support

If you are dealing with binge eating disorder and have begun your treatment, working with a registered dietitian should be incorporated in your treatment plan.

Depending on the severity of your eating disorder behaviors and symptoms, you may meet with your dietitian in different settings, ranging from inpatient to outpatient.

Your dietitian will work with you and your team to address immediate concerns. Many dietitians will collaborate with your physician to determine any medical conditions that can be approached with nutrition therapy.

This may involve reviewing current lab work or metabolic tests that may reveal nutritional deficiencies or problems. In order to get a better picture of your situation, a dietitian will also review:

  • Medical history
  • Past dietary trends
  • Weight patterns
  • Food recalls
  • Family history

At your initial appointment, recommendations will usually be made that can help guide you towards making small but therapeutic steps with your diet and nutrition. Dietitians who are specialized in eating disorder recovery will understand how to guide you towards making peace with food and your body by making recommendations that can help you overcome challenges with food as well as normalize eating habits and behaviors.

For example, if there are certain foods that you feel trigger you to binge, a dietitian can help you begin to legalize these foods by gradually incorporating them into your diet. A dietitian will also help you regulate your intake by recommending a meal plan that is tailored to your individual needs. This usually involves 3 meals per day and some snacks as appropriate with foods incorporated from all food groups to promote optimal nutrition.


Part of medical nutrition therapy also involves counseling. A dietitian can play an important role in helping you understand possible emotional or psychological connections to food related habits and behaviors.

While a dietitian is not a therapist, a dietitian can help you make important connections that you can then take to your therapist or counselor and process. For these reasons, collaborative care is such an important part of recovery for binge eating disorder.

Working through the many complex issues that come with binge eating disorder may seem like an overwhelming and challenging feat, but know that you do not have to go through this process alone. Working with a professional treatment team can be instrumental to your journey and help you address many of the common issues you are facing.

A registered dietitian can be a key member on your team, and incorporating medical nutrition therapy into your treatment can help you effectively manage and overcome food related issues you may be experiencing.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What has been your experience with medical nutrition therapy in recovery from binge eating disorder? How did this approach help you in terms of your overall treatment and recovery journey?

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on October 30, 2015
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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 discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.