For most people recovering from an eating disorder, a dietitian will be an integral part of their treatment team. However, it is important to see a dietitian who specializes and has experience in treating eating disorders, is willing to work with the rest of your treatment team, and is a good fit for you.
What is a dietitian? Why do I need to see one?
A dietitian is a professional who has specialized training in nutrition. Dieticians typically hold at least a bachelor's level degree and may hold a masters (or higher) degree as well.
It is important to see a dietitian in order to recover from an eating disorder as they can provide valuable information and accountability. Nutrition counseling typically includes education on various nutrients and how your body uses those nutrients as well as information on how much food someone of your size, age, and sex should intake. They are also able to educate clients on metabolism and learning to recognize physical cues of hunger and satiety. If needed, a dietitian can create a personalized meal plan for you in order to meet a number of goals including regaining weight, or beginning to include challenging foods in your diet.
Because of the obsessive nature of eating disorders, many sufferers have read a good deal of information about nutrition and aren't really sure why they need to see a dietitian. Also because of the eating disorder, this knowledge is also colored by misinformation. Dietitians are able to help you sift through what you know and what is a disordered thought. Dietitians can also monitor your weight to make sure that you are healthy enough to remain in your current level of treatment and that you do not need a higher level of treatment.
What do all of those letters after their name mean?
Two of the most commonly seen acronyms among dieticians are RD and LD. RD stands for Registered Dietitian who has completed the requirements and is a registered dietitian with the American Dietetic Association. LD stands for Licensed Dietitian and means that the person is licensed to practice as a dietician in their state. Each state (and country) has different licensure requirements for dietitians.
How do I find a dietitian?
There are many ways to find a dietitian but it can seem overwhelming at first. Because it is important to find someone who specializes in eating disorders, a referral from your therapist or another member of your treatment team is one of the best ways to find a dietitian. This will help ensure that you are seeing someone who has the experience you need and will work with your other treatment team members.
If your insurance plan covers visits with a dietitian, you may also want to consider calling or looking up dietitians who are considered in-network with your plan.