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Nutritional support for eating disorders

In my line of work, I get to support people with a whole range of health issues, including weight loss, diabetes management, IBS and chronic fatigue.

There is one area, however, in which I am seeing increasingly more clients, and that is the area of eating disorders and eating distress. This problem seems to be mainly prevalent amongst females but is not limited to any particular age group. In the relatively small sample of clients I have seen it does seem to affect those with the busiest, most stressful lifestyles, often high achievers who demand the best from themselves.

Eating disorders are complex mental health disorders. As a nutritional therapist, I am unable to "treat" eating disorders; however, I work alongside their psychotherapist/counsellor offering nutrition counselling and education. I educate them about the properties of different foods and how those foods might support their health whilst they are on the road to recovery. People with eating disorders often have incorrect ideas about the foods they can and can't eat, and I help dispel any myths. Unless there is a real need, I do not restrict any foods with these clients, but I aim to get them eating from as wide a variety as possible.

What I have found is that most of these clients genuinely want to eat and be healthy, and are relieved to have someone knowledgeable help them navigate the minefield of nutrition information out there. They need strategies to help them return to a normal healthy eating pattern. In this respect, addressing lifestyle and behaviour can be even more important than their nutrition.

It should be noted that nutritional therapists are not trained to "treat" eating disorders and do not work with acute/chronic anorexia nervosa.

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