It is important to see a registered dietitian nutritionist who is experienced in treating eating disorders, because treating eating disorders is a unique specialty. Not only are eating disorder complex conditions that require good collaboration with other treatment providers such as a therapist, psychiatrist, and/or medical doctor, there are also many nutritional and medical complications associated with eating disorders.
Why Work with a Dietitian Nutritionist?
The goal of working with a dietitian for eating disorder treatment is to stabilize complicated medical conditions, normalize food intake, establish healthier and normal eating behaviors, and promote the founding for an improved relationship with food. Additionally, a dietitian provides nutrition education, can implement structured meal plans, and give direction for intuitive eating methods.
One benefit people experience with nutrition therapy is improved digestion and nutrient absorption. Gut health plays a vital role in a number of functions in the body. Because of that, an unhealthy gut leads to many other imbalances, which is common for people with eating disorders. Often, when the guts begin to heal, the rest of their bodies start to feel better as well. In addition, eating a sufficiently and consistently allows the body to stabilize blood sugars, which gives people more energy and helps people with diabetes manage their condition.
Nutrition / Medical Complications of Eating Disorders
Below are some issues common for people with eating disorders that a dietitian can help with through medical nutrition therapy:
- Studies show that more than half of patients with anorexia nervosa fail to meet the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin D, calcium, folate, vitamin B12, zinc, magnesium, and copper.
- Deficiencies are also commonly found for several vitamins, including thiamine, niacin B2, B6, and vitamins C, E and K.
- Reduced bone mineral density put eating disorder patients at very high risk for osteoporosis.
- Digestive problems, including gastroparesis (i.e., slowed digestion), which leads to:
- Stomach pain and bloating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood sugar fluctuations
- Blocked intestines from solid masses of undigested food
- Bacterial infections
- Feeling full after eating only small amounts of food
- Both malnutrition and purging can cause pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. Symptoms include pain, nausea, and vomiting.
- Type 2 diabetes
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Digestive problems
- Heart problems
Dietitians on staff who offer nutrition therapy: