Well, hello! Thanks for stopping by. If you’re familiar with our practice, you probably read Kathryn Karukas’ blog, “What is a Health At Every Size Dietitian?” As Kathryn explained in her blog, not all dietitians practice the same. So what does an eating disorder dietitian do? In this blog, I’ll discuss what differentiates eating disorder dietitians from other healthcare professionals and what you can expect when working with one of us.
Qualification and Specialization
First and foremost, an eating disorder dietitian plays an important role in the recovery process and provides various services. Eating disorder-specialized dietitians have extensive experience within the eating disorder field and seek continuous clinical supervision and training. Our knowledge extends into both the medical and psychological impacts of eating disorders.
One of the most fundamental services eating disorder dietitians provide is medical nutrition therapy. This is defined as nutrition-based treatment provided by a registered dietitian, which includes nutrition counseling for various medical needs and chronic illnesses. I see this as more of an “umbrella term.” Nutrition therapy resembles other therapeutic and counseling modalities that are founded upon building a trusting and safe space with clients. However, dietitians don’t talk about food in the way you may think. During sessions, they explore our client’s emotions and lived experiences with food, body image, eating disorder origins, and their belief system around food.
Food Planning and Support
Typically, sessions with eating disorder dietitians consist of a blend of exploring tangible nutrition goals with nutrition therapy as mentioned above. They assist clients with menu planning, creating interventions for eating disorder behaviors, doing food exposures, grocery shopping, and more. Above all, these dietitians make sure to take the time to understand your goals and never presume these are things you want to work on. This is why collaboration is so important.
Medical Monitoring and Collaboration of Care
Eating disorders are serious conditions that impact individuals both physically and mentally. Eating disorder dietitians are knowledgeable about the medical complications of eating disorders. However, when needed, they commonly work with medical doctors to monitor various health aspects such as vitals, labs, and growth charts to ensure the safety of our clients. In addition, they will also collaborate care with other providers such as therapists, psychiatrists, and other specialists.
Most importantly, eating disorder dietitians do not correlate our client’s body size with their health. Instead, these specialists practice from a weight-inclusive framework to protect our client’s mental health as well as their physical.
Resources and Advocacy
Eating disorders are a social justice issue. As eating disorder dietitians, it is essential that we collectively continue to explore our own biases and privileges. At Courage to Nourish, our staff continues to seek clinical supervision and education around this. Overall, the field of dietetics lacks diversity, which can negatively impact treatment for the entire community. To try to combat this lack of diversity, our dietitians provide our clients with as many resources as possible, including support groups, additional referrals, food accessibility resources, community resources, and more.
Like any health provider, eating disorder dietitians rely on your lived experiences and goals to guide our sessions and treatment plans. We know that you know your body best. So what does an eating disorder dietitian do? The answer is: as eating disorder dietitians, our qualifications allow us to help clients navigate their relationship with food and their body.
Courage to Nourish is a group of eating disorder specialized dietitians. We have in person locations in Alexandria, Virginia, Columbia, Maryland. and College Park, Maryland. We offer virtual services across the state of Virginia, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. We offer individual nutrition therapy. As well as support groups. We would love to guide you in building a better relationship with food.
Emilee Young, RD, LD, is an eating disorder dietitian who serves Alexandria, VA, Richmond, VA, Charlottesville, VA, Norfolk, VA, Virginia Beach, VA and Roanoke, VA. She provides in person services in our Alexandria, VA office and virtual services elsewhere. Emilee also sees clients who live in Maryland and DC.
Take one of our eating disorder quizzes:
I am a Registered Dietitian dedicated to helping those in recovery. I enjoy helping individuals work towards body acceptance and find food freedom. I am a fat-positive and anti-diet dietitian practicing from an intuitive eating lens. I enjoy working with folks who struggle with binge eating disorder (BED). I serve clients virtually and in person throughout DC and Maryland. Growing up in Virginia, I am passionate about supporting clients throughout the greater areas of Richmond, Virginia Beach, Charlottesville, and Roanoke.