Eating Disorder Treatment: Why Integrate Nutrition Education and Therapy?
The number of people suffering from eating disorders continue to grow in the US. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), over 30 million Americans of all genders and ages struggle with an eating disorder.
Women are more susceptible to eating disorders than the opposite sex. Studies prove that females are more likely to experience extreme body dissatisfaction. This is caused largely by societal pressures on women, holding them to higher standards of beauty. These standards are often too high, causing girls to have warped perceptions of themselves.
Body dissatisfaction starts at an age earlier than most people would expect. Almost 46 percent of American adolescents have negative perception of their bodies. This mindset can persist until they’re 30. Eating disorders aren’t the only consequence of a negative body image. The risk for poor mental health, obesity, and other serious problems also increase.
This is why it’s important to establish a positive relationship with food early on. Healthy habits make the patient feel more at peace with how, what, and how much they eat, helping them spot toxic practices or thoughts immediately.
A healthy relationship with food is also integral to different kinds of eating disorder treatments. It helps break the mindset of associating self-worth with eating habits and weight.
The Importance of Nutrition Education
Many eating disorder therapies involve dietitians, nutritionists, and other similar professionals. They help the patient better understand their condition as well as unpack and analyze their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors regarding food and weight.
Together, the medical professionals and the patient will develop a concrete plan to establishing habits that allow the latter to eat normally again. This means being free from guilt, fear, anxiety, obsessive thinking, and compensatory behaviors (excessive exercise or purging) before, during, and after eating.
Nutritional therapy also covers proper diet and exercise. The patient will learn to choose the food they consume based on its nutritional value, balance diet with exercise, and maintain a healthy weight without risking overall well-being.
Nutrition education also involves some degree of psychotherapy. It helps the patient relearn the internal cues for hunger and fullness. These biological responses may have been suppressed for patients of eating disorders, especially those who force themselves to starve, purge, or overeat past the point of comfort. Relearning these natural cues is important to establishing regular eating habits.
The goals of nutrition education are summarized in the following:
- Work toward a healthy weight in a healthy way
- Recognize how the eating disorder and the unhealthy habits that come with it cause nutrition issues and physical conditions
- Practice meal planning
- Establish a regular eating pattern – three meals a day with snacks
- Eliminate extreme dieting, purging, starving, and bingeing behaviors
- Correct or mitigate health problems due to obesity or malnutrition
The first step to getting better is asking for help. Whether it’s you or your loved one, work with a professional who can help unpack, analyze, and address the eating disorder.
Overcome Eating Disorders at the Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health
The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health (CCBH) in Westport provides a range of treatments for those with eating disorders. Our team works with you to gain the capacity and confidence to manage the symptoms of your conditions. By evaluating your specific conditions and needs, we’ll create a nutrition education plan that replaces your unhealthy eating habits with positive ones.
Begin healing with us today. Set an appointment with us by filling out our contact form or calling 1-888-745-3372.