Wondering how an eating disorder dietitian can support recovery? This article can help prepare you before seeing a nutritionist specializing in eating disorders.
Working with a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist can help support you through recovery and make this journey feel less scary. When managing an eating disorder, working with a nutrition counseling professional is essential for eating disorder treatment and sustainable recovery.
Whether this is your first time seeking help for an eating disorder or if you have been through treatment before, this article can help you know what to expect when seeing a dietitian for eating disorders.
What is Nutrition Counseling for Eating Disorders?
Nutrition counseling for eating disorders is provided to you by a Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist. This dietitian should have prior experience and specialty in eating disorder recovery. Nutrition services can include nutrition education, exploring fear foods, providing guidance about meal planning, food exposures, and making goals for recovery. Sometimes, the eating disorder nutritionist and therapist will work together on setting goals for recovery.
The goal of nutrition counseling for eating disorders is to help challenge the eating disorder thoughts and a healthy relationship with food. If you feel consumed by food thoughts, seeing an eating disorder dietitian can be a good step for your recovery.
Step One: Reach Out for Help
The first step can be the most challenging. Finding a dietitian whom you trust can take time. But it is so worth it for your long-term health and recovery.
Eating disorders are complex conditions that require a well-educated treatment team. When you are searching for an eating disorder nutritionist, take care to check their credentials and prior experience. You want to find someone who uses the letters"RD" after their name. These letters mean they are certified as a Registered-Dietitian.
When choosing an RD for your treatment team, think of some questions you may ask them. For example, you can ask about their prior work with eating disorder clients. Or you may consider asking them about their nutrition philosophy, their working style, and their collaboration with other clinicians. This will give insight into if they are a good fit for your treatment team.
Kristen Kiesow is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and eating disorder nutritionist in Germany. You can learn more about her prior work with eating disorder nutrition counseling here.
Step Two: Prepare for the Appointment
Your dietitian may ask for a few practical pieces of information before your first appointment. They may ask for growth charts, recent doctor's notes, current blood work results, or any other useful historical medical information. In addition, your dietitian may ask you to recall what a typical day of eating looks like.
Before seeing an eating disorder recovery dietitian for the first time, you may feel anxious before the appointment. It's okay to feel nervous before your session! Your eating disorder might scream at you because the ED is afraid to be challenged by a nutrition professional. Sitting with fear and discomfort is part of the recovery process.
Be gentle with yourself. You're taking a huge first step, and your treatment team will be present to support you throughout the recovery journey.
Step Three: The Appointment
After arriving at your appointment (either in-person or virtual), your dietitian will take you through a series of questions. These questions can be about medical history, prior experience working with a dietitian, current eating patterns, beliefs about food, eating disorder behaviors, current challenges, and your personal goals for recovery. Your dietitian will listen to your challenges with an empathetic ear and make a plan to support your recovery.
Many clients with eating disorders have a wide range of knowledge about nutrition and health. It can be challenging to hear an eating disorder dietitian challenge these beliefs that you hold as fact. Your dietitian can help you reframe the harmful eating disorder thoughts. Then, you can use these reframed thoughts when challenging situations around food may arise.
After the session, your dietitian will send you home with goals. These goals may be a meal plan to follow, food exposures to try, or exercises to manage compulsive eating disorder behaviors.
Step Four: Follow-Up Appointments
At the beginning of your recovery, your eating disorder nutritionist will likely want to meet with you for one session per week. At follow-up sessions, you and your nutritionist will review what has been going well, what has been challenging, and how to proceed with recovery.
Eating disorder recovery is not linear and does not happen overnight. Discuss with your dietitian and therapist about expected timelines for treatment. This timeline is not permanent. It may change depending on your progress.
Be open to the opportunity to recover, and always be honest with your treatment team.
Find Help For Eating Disorder Recovery Today
Whether you are seeing an anorexia nervosa, bulimia, or binge eating disorder dietitian, your treatment may vary depending on the diagnosis. But the overall goal of treatment is to support you.
Kristen Kiesow is an experienced, evidence-based eating disorder dietitian in Germany. She can work with children, adolescents, family members, and adults struggling with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and related nutritional concerns. Kristen offers virtual nutrition counseling for those living in Germany, the EU, and Pennsylvania (USA).
Eating disorders are serious, life threatening illnesses that require support from health professionals. If you or a loved one is at risk for developing an eating disorder, you are encouraged to seek help.
You deserve recovery. Find support today.