Myths of an Eating Disorder Nutritionist
5 Facts About My Approach as an Eating Disorder Dietitian
For anyone who struggles with disordered eating, an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder or ARFID (avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder), the idea of sitting down with an Eating Disorder Nutritionist can be daunting or even terrifying!
Honestly, I am not everyone’s favourite person at first and that is okay. A lot of that has to do with the myths and fears associated with Eating Disorder Nutritionists / Dietitians. Or perhaps you’ve had previous encounters with so-called “nutrition experts” that were not Registered Dietitians and trained in credible nutritional science that added to your confusion and stress when it came to eating. Or perhaps you previously saw a Dietitian and may not have clicked with them or felt they didn’t really “get it” if they had not worked in eating disorders extensively.
Myth #1: I am going to judge you, your food, or your food behaviours
First of all, at this point in my career, there are not a lot of food behaviors left out there that I have not heard before.
I want you to surprise me! I do this work because I find our behaviors and our relationships with food interesting. We are all unique and different. Our behaviors have served us in one way or another, so my role isn’t to judge you, my role is to help you judge yourself less.
Secondly, my goal is to create a safe space where you can share whatever it is that is going on with you, your body and food. I will do everything in my power to keep that space free from judgement because it doesn’t matter what I think. What matters is how you feel in your relationship with food. If your health or your life are suffering because of your food behaviours, then we will work together to find a way to improve that relationship with food and hopefully make food easier in the long run!
Myth #2: All I care about is your weight
If you are below or above the weight range that your body wants to be then yes, your weight may change. But weight is only one piece of information to me and it has limited value.
My priority lies in your health and relationship with food, not in your weight. If you are fueling your body in a way that allows you to enjoy healthful and soulful foods, that provides an adequate amount of nourishment for your life, that is free from diet rules, and that makes you feel really good then I am happy!
Myth #3: You are not allowed to exercise
As a retired competitive athlete, physical activity and movement continues to be a stress reliever and a source of great joy for me. I would be very upset if I lost the ability to engage in physical activity. So as an Eating Disorder Dietitian, I will always take potential restrictions very seriously.
There may be periods of time during your recovery where exercise is reduced or eliminated. This may be to help restore physical health, to avoid overtraining or burnout symptoms, or to help you learn to trust your body’s cues. However, if exercise is something you enjoy, then there will be a way to bring it back and to include it in your life.
The focus, similarly to food behaviors, is to repair your relationship with your body and how you use exercise or physical activity.
Myth #4: You have no say in what you get to eat
If you hate broccoli, I will not force you to eat broccoli. If you hate chocolate, I will not force you to eat chocolate.
I am not a food bully. I said it and I mean it!
You will always have a say in what you get to eat. I may make recommendations and offer ideas. I may encourage you to try foods that you haven’t had for a long time. I may even recommend that you try foods that previously triggered you into an eating disorder behavior. In that case, I will also help you create a supportive environment to reduce the fear around that food.
But you will always have a voice in your recovery plan!
Myth #5: You must follow a meal plan
I personally dislike meal plans that are overly structured. They are not “real life.”
Inpatient treatment often has to use more strict meal plans for logistical purposes. In an outpatient or community setting, I get to work with you in a more flexible, “real life” kind of way.
I will help you develop meal structure for knowing how much to eat, what to eat and the timing of your meals. I will work with you to develop a strategy for eating that works best for your individual needs and lifestyle.
The myths about Eating Disorder Dietitians who work to support clients with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and ARFID (avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder) world make us seem way scarier than we really are. We are on your side and can work with you at a pace you can manage but that nudges you forward with the happier and healthier life you deserve.
Looking for Eating Disorder Dietitian support?
If you are looking for a helping hand and support for eating disorder recovery, reach out to us for help. Our Eating Disorder Nutritionist services can help support you privately and confidentially. We will also work with your family, family physician and therapist to make sure we are all working collaboratively to support you. Contact us for help here.
You might also want to check out these previous articles on our blog:
- Avoiding Diet Talk and Body Bashing
- 3 Tips for Improving Body Confidence
- Amenorrhea: Athletes with No Period
Disordered Eating, Emotional Eating & Sports Nutrition
Fitness enthusiast and lover of all things food, Jana is passionate about helping her clients improve their relationship with food and their body. She is a strong, motivational leader. Jana also offers the balance of a warm, supportive coaching style to nudge her clients from their comfort zone while feeling safe and supported. She specializes in mental health, eating disorders, body image and sports nutrition.