National Eating Disorders Association
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An Introduction to Nutritional Therapy

Kira Rakova, Communications Intern

Given the complex nature of eating disorders, they often require a professional team approach. That is, eating disorder recovery requires the combined involvement of professionals, including: registered dieticians, psychiatrists, therapists, and general practitioners. However, many individuals do not understand who registered dieticians are or what role nutritional therapy plays in the recovery process.

So who are Registered Dietitians?

According to Melanie Rogers, a Registered Dietitian and key presenter in our webinar, “The Role of Nutrition Therapy in Treating Eating Disorders”, a Registered Dietitian is the individual who works with a patient to develop symptom free relationships with food. She also notes that although many Registered Dieticians prefer to use the word “nutritionist”, they are distinct from Nutritionists. While Registered Dieticians gain their accreditation through bachelors (and masters) degrees and national medical accreditation, nutritionists often simply have to complete a single course. In other words, Registered Dietitians require rigorous education and training in a medical setting.

How is anorexia nervosa approached in nutrition therapy?

Key goals in nutritional therapy for anorexia nervosa include:

  • Weight restoration and body-weight maintenance
  • A development of neutrality toward food through re-developing intuitive understandings of hunger, fullness, and satiety.
  • Regulation of phosphate levels in blood These goals are reached through a gradual increase of food through an individualized program.

How is bulimia nervosa approached in nutrition therapy?

Key goals in nutritional therapy for bulimia nervosa include:

  • Stabilization of weight through decreasing the cycles of binging and compensation.
  • A development of neutrality toward food through re-developing intuitive understandings of hunger, fullness, and satiety.
  • Re-establishment of blood-sugar levels through portion re-distribution • Regulation and maintenance of potassium levels

How is binge eating disorder approached in nutrition therapy?

Key goals in nutritional therapy for binge eating disorder include:

  • Re-establishment of blood-sugar levels through portion re-distribution
  • Improving on food-related behaviors and a development of neutrality toward food through re-developing intuitive understandings of hunger, fullness, and satiety.

To learn more about treatment basics, levels of care, seeking and securing treatment, please visit our Treatment section.

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