Eating Disorders

What is an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders refer to a group of conditions characterized by abnormal eating behaviors that involve varying amounts of food intake, i.e. insufficient or excessive food, and intense thoughts, feelings and attitudes around food and body weight. Although generally emotionally based, eating disorders are manifested through an individual’s relationship and behavior towards food. Eating disorders are potentially life-threatening conditions that can affect an individual's physical and mental health and should always be taken seriously. They can occur at every age range, any ethnicity and in both males and females. Early detection is important to provide necessary treatment and increase the likelihood for long-term recovery.

What types of treatment providers are important in recovery?

Eating disorders are dangerous to the health and lifestyle of the individual. They have the potential to impact all areas of ones’ life and can become physically, mentally and socially debilitating. If left unaddressed, eating disorders can lead to serious physical and emotional consequences. It is important to recognize that eating disorders rarely resolve on their own and are more likely to increase in severity over time without proper care. This is why it is especially important to seek treatment from qualified health professionals, including a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, as soon as possible for best chances of full recovery.

Although considered mental illnesses, eating disorders present through eating and body weight regulation behaviors. As such, it is important to address psychological, nutritional and medical concerns. This requires cooperative efforts of a therapist, medical doctor and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to form a comprehensive and effective treatment team. In addition, other providers and adjunct therapies can include: psychiatry, bodywork, chiropractic, acupuncture, art therapy, equine therapy, dance movement therapy and more. It is important to seek a multidisciplinary approach to treatment to better address all aspects of patient care whenever possible.

Additionally, eating disorders are complex illnesses that are best served by experienced practitioners that understand the specialized nature of the treatment. It is recommended to work with health professionals specializing in treating eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors. Just as the treatment team works hard to help the individual in need, it is important for those seeking treatment to make an effort to see all members of their healthcare team consistently and concurrently for optimal care. Adapted from the American Psychiatric Association DSM-5