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The Importance of Nutritional Therapy for Recovery


Nutrition therapy is a key component of eating disorder treatment and your recovery process.

Although you may feel overwhelmed by the array of treatments available to help you recover, you should not think twice about making nutritional therapy part of your treatment. This type of therapy can help you regain control over your eating habits and to normalize your eating patterns.

A nutritionist can work with you to learn how to eat adequately to meet your body’s daily nutritional needs. Nutritional therapy can also help you to develop a balanced and sustainable relationship with food that is free of negative or distorted thoughts about your body and self. Lastly, it can help you learn to listen to and trust your body’s internal cues to help you better discern hunger and fullness.

Addressing the Role of Food in Your Recovery

While it is true that what is at the core of an eating disorder is a person's inability to cope with strong or overwhelming emotions and situations, food is still an important issue that needs to be addressed carefully. If a person does not address his or her relationship with food, eating and nutrition, this can become a major obstacle in the recovery process. While some people who struggle with certain types of eating disorders may have extensive knowledge of nutrition, food and exercise, this information is often misused and a person may apply it in ways that inhibit, rather than promote, health. Alternatively, there are those who may also adhere to nutritional information that is inaccurate, misleading or dangerous.

Lack of nutritional knowledge, or guidance can lead to: chronic/severe dieting, eliminating specific food items, obsessive calorie counting, monitoring of nutrition labels or precise measuring of foods, an unhealthy adherence to so-called safe foods, fear of certain foods, and difficulty eating around other people or in social situations. When you have struggled with an eating disorder, you often lose touch with your body’s natural cues and signals when it comes to recognizing hunger and fullness. It's common for your metabolism and your ability to enjoy food to be disrupted.

Learning the Truth About Food

It can be difficult to decide to seek the help of a nutritionist, but becoming educated about food is the first step toward building a positive relationship with it. Nutritional therapy will teach you the nutritional value of certain foods that perhaps you avoided before. For you, an eating disorder can be a way of gaining control over your life and to relinquish control of what you eat to someone else can be scary. However, working with a nutritionist does not mean foregoing control. Your nutritionist will work with you and will take into consideration your concerns and preferences.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder such as bulimia or binge eating disorder, a nutritionist can show you how taking the time to choose, prepare, and understand your meals can help you to channel your binge eating habits. Nutritional therapy can teach you how to cope with the desire to eat unhealthy foods, how to control the urge to binge when under stress, and how to wean yourself off your old habits gradually. Lastly, you can also learn how to make food work for you. Particularly in the case of bulimia and binge eating, you can learn tips on what kinds of foods can help control the hunger pangs and sugar cravings that often precede a binge. Consulting a nutritionist can be a way of taking responsibility and demanding control over your eating disorder.

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