Everyone deserves access to an interdisciplinary team to support their recovery from an eating disorder. An interdisciplinary team means you have eyes on vitals, medication, mental health, gender-affirming care, pain management, distress tolerance and stress management, digestive function, and hydration along with food intake and meal access. This means at its most basic level the team should include a Physician or Psychiatrist, a Registered Dietitian/Certified Nutritionist and a mental health professional.
If possible, talk with a few providers before settling on your Care Team. Some providers offer complimentary discovery calls or meet & greets. This allows potential clients and their family members an opportunity to ask questions about the care they might receive and determine if it will be a good fit.
Questions to ask Providers:
Have you worked with individuals in recovery from eating disorders at various levels of care such as Outpatient, Intensive Outpatient (IOP), Partially Hospitalized (PHP), Residential or Inpatient care?
Have you worked with someone with symptoms similar to mine?
Do you follow a Health at Every Size® approach?
What kind of approach do you take?
How do you assess when a higher level of care is needed?
Considerations when picking your Care Team:
Is it important to you that the provider represents your heritage, race and/or faith beliefs?
Is it important to you that the provider be trauma-informed?
Can you talk to them and do they listen to you?
Are you comfortable in their presence?
Are you involved in the treatment plan?
Have they done their own work regarding having a relationship with food and body view?
The role of the Care Team is to improve medical and physical stability, support health restoration, normalize eating and physical activity, and to support a social structure that improves mental health and ways of dealing with life stress that lead to an absence of purging behaviors.
The Registered Dietitian/Certified Nutritionist is an important member of your Care Team because they evaluate and monitor food intake and create plans to replenish nutritional deficiencies. They need to be compassionate, good listeners, empowering, hold boundaries and pursue continuing education. Below are a few ways a Registered Dietitian/Certified Nutritionist will engage in your care:
The nutritionist will evaluate current eating patterns and share findings with other team members.
The nutritionist will develop plans for improvement in intake to replenish nutritional deficiencies.
The nutritionist will identify barriers, dysfunction and detrimental thoughts and feelings around food, eating, and/or body size that prevent the client from implementing recommendations.
The nutritionist will explain the role of adequate nutrition and eating in physical and mental well-being and provide education to challenge inaccurate beliefs about food.
The nutritionist will refer information about underlying life stressors to a mental health professional.
The nutritionist will offer active learning activities when appropriate such as cooking, eating, or grocery shopping to help teach new behaviors and acceptance of food-related tasks and environments.
The nutritionist will educate parents and caregivers regarding eating disorders and nutrition as they relate to the treatment plan and recovery needs.
The mental health professional is an important member of one’s Care Team because they can diagnose psychiatric illness, support behavior change, address trauma, re-build support connections (including family) and help the client face fears that perpetuate disordered relationships with eating and body view. These providers may be Social Workers (LCSW), Licensed Mental Health Counselors and Associates (LMHC/LMHCA), Psychologists, Nurse Practitioners (ARNP) or school counselors depending on your state laws.
The Physician or Psychiatrist is an important member of one’s Care Team because they monitor vitals, medication, symptoms, and drug interactions. These providers may be medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, or Psychiatric/Nurse practitioners depending on your state laws.
Additional care providers may include:
Cardiologist, Endocrinologist, Gastroenterologist, Speech Therapist, Dentist, Family Therapist, Physical Therapist, Personal Trainer or Movement Specialist, Art Therapist, Religious Leader, Group Therapist, Acupuncturist, etc.
If you know someone struggling with disordered patterns of eating, please share this article.