When we get chatting with strangers or even family members, we can often get into discussion on “what we do” for a job. In fact, “So what is a dietitian?” is one of the most common questions I am asked! I thought you might be wondering too. Here’s a quick summary to hopefully answer that question for you.
Let’s explore what a dietitian does…
Dietitians are university trained health professionals who help individual people, groups and communities improve their health by applying the science of human nutrition.
Despite the name, dietitians don’t really do DIETS. In fact, a great dietitian, will have the clinical training and counselling skills to help people to change their nutritional intake to manage a multitude of physical and mental health conditions, including eating disorders – All without a mention of a “DIET”.
There are two new exciting approaches, many dietitians are now using. These are called, The “Non-Diet Approach and Health At Every Size ®. Although they are technically different things (the non-diet approach is a way to apply the principles of HAES ®), both help people to make dietary changes without food restriction and without a focus on body weight. These approaches work wonderfully to support anyone who is seeking treatment and recovery from an eating disorder.
How can a dietitian help with eating disorder recovery?
When it comes to supporting you in your eating disorder recovery, dietitians can help in different ways, and it will obviously depend on your individual situation.
Examples could be supporting you to:
- Loosen the grip on restrictive eating. This might be centred on supporting you to eat regularly, with variety and enough of the nutrients you need to thrive
- Eat flexibly when you are out and about, learning to trust your body’s cues on when and how much to eat and of course your taste preferences
- Manage feeling like you are overeating or binge eating
- Manage any deficiencies for vitamins and minerals
- Manage the eating disorder in the context of other physical or mental health conditions you might be experiencing. For example, gastrointestinal health concerns, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and diabetes to name a few.
Many dietitians who work in the area of eating disorders, also have training in some of the models of care other mental health professionals utilise. For example, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Family Based Treatment (FBT) and Cognitive and Behavioural Therapy-Enhanced (CBT-E). This means they understand what other treatment you might be receiving and can work with the other health professionals in your team to ensure they are providing optimal care.
If you are also living with a health condition other than an eating disorder, please browse the menu to the right for further information and support.