Nutrition Philosophy and E.A.T Model
The Reasons Nutrition Program Philosophy views nutritional restoration as:
- promoting metabolic recovery, while addressing medical complications
- restoring healthy nutritional status and weight range
- normalizing eating behaviors
- restoring a patient’s ability to meet their individual nutritional needs through food
The E.A.T. Model
Exposure, Accountability and Trust
In the healing process, no food is off limits and we believe this is necessary in order to have food become a neutral experience and
reduce polarizing labels of foods. The relationship with food becomes less of a relationship in regard to deeply passionate emotions i.e. hate, love, etc. and more of a healthy relationship that’s based around of honoring of preferences and taste, as well as the body’s natural hunger and fullness cues.
Reflective of our overall clinical philosophy, we believe in challenging our patients to do the things they once felt were too frightening by creating safety, structure, and opportunities for successful learning. We do this through providing our patients personalized attention from a Registered Dietitian that includes an individualized and structured plan with the intention of providing guidance in selections for food intake and teaching about individual nutrition, nourishing our bodies, and normalizing eating behaviors. We believe that using in vivo exposures in real life situations is a fundamental component of helping our patients create new meaning and find joy in what was once aversive and distressful.
Each of our patients makes a commitment to be an active participant in their nutrition plan in a variety of ways. We work with medically documented dietary needs and food preferences while asking for willingness from the patient to challenge distorted beliefs about food, try new foods, and work to develop skills needed to have lasting recovery outside of the treatment program. We provide specially designed exposures and challenges both in program and in the community for our patients to practice accountability and restore their ability to make food choices that provide essential nutrients.
A key aspect of our nutrition program is learning and practicing skills for changing beliefs and behaviors around food. We provide strong support from staff during meals and snacks in the form of role modeling, redirection as needed, helping cook and prepare meals, and importantly, eating together with our patients. We believe that this builds a sense of trust in the treatment team and eventually, a sense of internal trust that allows for flexibility and spontaneity.
What We Believe
We believe an essential component of re-nourishment is restoration of eating with enjoyment, mindfulness, and intention. In the beginning of this process, we collaborate with our patients to view food as medicine for all eating disorders, regardless of weight or diagnosis. This progression of treatment initially involves external structure and guidance to both help restore ability to make food choices that meet the patients’ nutritional needs and that challenge and give opportunity for the infusion of new meaning into well-established preoccupations and associations. An essential component of this process is moving from a dichotomous place of rigidity or chaos, and the concept that foods are good or bad, to a place of flexibility and spontaneity.
We teach that all foods can fit into a balanced eating pattern which encompasses a non-diet approach to life, which is one that recognizes balance, moderation, and the importance of variety in choices. We commit to work together with our patients to help them re-discover the ways in which food and eating relate to hunger and satiety cues from the body, affect anxiety and mood, and eventually can be a source of both nourishment and enjoyment for the body. We think of this as similar to learning to play a new instrument. We start with learning the notes and practicing scales with the intention that those skills internalize over time and will eventually become more instinctive and creative.
Each patient receives an individualized structured meal plan created by a Registered Dietitian and makes a commitment to be an active participant in their nutrition plan in a variety of ways. We work with medically documented dietary needs and food preferences while asking for willingness from the patient to challenge distorted beliefs about food, try new foods, and work to develop skills needed to have lasting recovery outside of the treatment program. In practice, the approach to retraining the mind and thought processes about food are worked with differently at each level of care.
Essential Elements of Our Approach
- Restoring the ability to make food choices that provide essential nutrients
- Addressing underlying anxiety and fear that is driving food related behaviors
- Learning and practicing skills for changing beliefs and behaviors around food and eating.
- Helping patient’s distinguish between feared or anxiety provoking foods and true food dislikes
- Promoting a normalized relationship with food and eating both alone, in the community and in social situations
- Providing strong support from staff which is based in the belief that meals are therapeutic components of the treatment and the support comes in the form of role modeling, redirection as needed, helping our patients cook and prepare meals, and importantly, eating together with our patients.