Alice Baker MSRD, CEDRD, LDN
Nutrition and the Recovery Process: The Dietitan’s Role
We know eating disorders are not really about the food. They are about the underlying wounds one self-protects from by focusing on food and weight. Food is a symptom, not the issue. However, one cannot leave a symptom untreated and unaddressed. This would be like waiting out the flu without treating the fever and conjestion. It is impossible to recover without healing food behaviors and your relationship with food. True recovery can’t happen without food recovery.
Food recovery is eating what you want without fear and guilt. It is when food is an inanimate object that nourishes and fuels your body and happens to taste good too.
The good news is this recovery is possible.
So how do we get there? The role of the dietitian is to meet you where you are at, come alongside and empower you to freedom with food one step at a time.
First this means learning/embracing the truth about food, what your body needs, and what happens when you don’t get it. Many individuals struggling with disordered eating know a lot about what it is in food, but the eating disorder has distorted its true purpose and place in life. The dietitian will help navigate you through the journey of nutrient needs and balanced eating. So for example, salad dressing is often a fear food for one struggling with an eating disorder. The truth is the body needs 40-60g fat/day, and most salad dressings provides 5-8g/serving only about 1/8th of one’s fat requirements. Thus it is not as powerful as it seems, and can add wonderful flavor and freedom to one’s meal.
After you have learned the truth about food, the next step is putting it into practice. Food recovery becomes ‘real and experienced’ with this step. This is done through grocery store tours, food challenges, and cooking experientials. At this point the dietitian can help you face food fears so that eating without guilt can become a natural and easy part of your life.
Learning the facts about nutrition, and putting those facts into everyday real life practice empowers you to let go of the imprisoning food behaviors, and find true freedom with food. Then eating can truly become joyful nutrition.