Our Dietary Philosophy and Approach to Nutrition
Eating disorders are multi-faceted and multi-determined, and treatment approaches must reflect this complexity to be truly useful and meaningful. This becomes most evident when approaching nutrition restoration for those suffering from eating disorders. An essential component of re-nourishment is the restoration of eating with enjoyment, mindfulness, and intention.
At Reason Eating Disorder Center, we view food as medicine for all eating disorders, regardless of weight or diagnosis. Our goal is to help restore the ability to make food choices that meet individual nutritional needs. This allows the infusion of new meaning into well-established preoccupations and associations. An essential component of this nutritional medicine philosophy is moving from the concept that foods are good or bad, to a place of flexibility and spontaneity.
All foods can fit as part of a non-diet approach to life: one that recognizes balance, moderation, and the importance of variety in choices. In our treatment programs, we explore how 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.
Nutrition Philosphy & E.A.T. Model
The Reasons nutrition program philosophy views nutritional restoration as:
- Promoting metabolic recovery while addressing medical complications
- Restoring a healthy nutritional status and normalizing eating behaviors
- Restoring a patient’s ability to meet their individual nutritional needs through food
We approach this philosophy to nutrition therapy through a unique model called E.A.T. (Exposure, Accountability and Trust). In the healing process, no food is off-limits so that food becomes a neutral experience. The relationship with food becomes less of a “relationship” with deeply passionate emotions (i.e., hate, love, etc.) but more about honoring preferences, taste, and the body’s natural hunger and fullness cues. This helps to increase the mind, body, and spirit connection for wholeness and healing.
Reflective of our overall clinical philosophy, we believe in challenging patients to do the things they once felt were too frightening by creating safety, structure, and opportunities for successful learning. We do this by offering personalized attention from a registered dietitian that includes an individualized and structured plan to guide selections for food intake and teaching about individual nutrition, nourishing our bodies, and normalizing eating behaviors. We believe that exposures in real-life situations are a fundamental component of creating new meaning and finding joy in what was once aversive and distressful.
Our patients commit to active participation in nutrition counseling and planning in a variety of ways. We work with medically documented dietary needs and food preferences while challenging distorted beliefs about food, trying new foods, and working to develop skills needed to have lasting recovery outside of the treatment program.
We provide specially designed exposures and challenges both in the 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 model 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 as a staff and patient community. We believe that this builds a sense of trust in the treatment team and, eventually, a sense of inner confidence that allows for flexibility and spontaneity.
Each patient receives an individualized structured meal plan created by a registered dietitian and commits to being 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. Across these levels, essential elements of this approach will include:
- 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 genuine food dislikes
- Promoting a normalized relationship with food and eating both alone, in the community and social situations
- Providing strong support from staff, which is based on 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
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We Hold Hope for Your Recovery
Eating disorder recovery is not always easy, but it is possible. Let us support you in discovering not only the reasons for your eating disorder but the reasons for your recovery. To schedule a no-cost clinical consultation or for more information, please call 844-573-2766 or use our online contact form. In case of a medical emergency or crisis, please call 911 or seek the nearest emergency room.