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What is the role of an Eating Disorder Dietitian?

By Sally Drinan

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How can a Dietitian assist someone recovering from an Eating Disorder?

A Dietitian specialising in the treatment of Eating Disorders works with both the physical and psychological aspects of the illness. An Eating Disorder Dietitian provides nutritional counselling to achieve physical nourishment and the restoration of normalised eating behaviours.

How does the Dietitian work with the client to achieve this?

Collaboration with the client is key – clarifying how eating behaviours get in the way of living well and then identifying how to bring about change. When working collaboratively, the Dietitian forms a partnership with the client and they work together to decide on goals that matter to the client’s recovery and what they feel ready to do.

 A specialised Eating Disorder Dietitian helps clients:

  • Navigate the transition to normalized eating patterns. This might involve improving confidence in choosing satisfying and nourishing foods and developing a pattern of regular eating.
  • Reduce the distress around food – including thoughts, emotions and physiological symptoms
  • Explore and challenge fear foods, food rules, food rituals and other disordered behaviours around food
  • Work with the client to develop beliefs around food, weight, health and diets that ultimately support a sustained and resilient recovery

As the expert in nutrition, the dietitian can also dispel myths and misconceptions along the way. So much more than just providing a meal plan.

Our best evidence suggests that accessing the support of a multidisciplinary team offers clients the scope of support they require when navigating some of the complex demands of recovering from an eating disorder. The dietitian is a valuable part of the team as good nutrition is a vital building block of recovery.

Developing a good therapeutic relationship with a client based on understanding, trust, and rapport and working as a team with other health professionals are both essential to the role of an eating disorder dietitian in supporting a client in their recovery.