The Role of the Dietitian in Eating Disorder Treatment

A dietitian is a central part of anyone's recovery and often the most feared and the most misunderstood. People typically expect the sessions to be solely about what to eat and when to eat it. That can be extremely exposing and uncomfortable, if not upsetting or even infuriating for people seeking help. It's easy to see why it's hard for people to follow through with the appointments with this expectation. 

However, there is a big difference between seeing a skilled dietitian specifically trained to treat people with eating disorders and an otherwise good one. 

Expert dietitians who specialize in treating people with eating disorders have very different training. They typically have worked with a therapist or treatment program to learn therapeutic techniques about eating disorder treatment. So these sessions tend to be a cross between a typical dietitian session and therapy. In other words, the appointments are best described as food-centered therapy. 

In addition to setting out a meal plan and an idea of when to eat and what to eat, the treatment involves discussing fears of food, the emotions triggered by eating and the experience of progressing in recovery. 

By centering the food-focused aspect of treatment with the dietitian appointments, therapy sessions can more freely focus on psychological and emotional aspects of recovery. The complementary nature of these two appointments allows for much more direct attention to all components of wellness. Trying to use therapy both for food and therapy often slows recovery and limits progress. 

Assembling a team of a therapist and dietitian who know each other and work together in a similar style can be of enormous help to treatment as well. It's a big step to understand and accept the true nature of why dietitian appointments are essential for recovery. Doing so is representative of a true dedication to recovery.