March is National Nutrition Month. This campaign promotes healthy eating habits and nutritional education, and it celebrates people who promote these healthy habits.
Unfortunately, we live in a society where nutrition misinformation is coming at us from every side. Fad diets continue to flood social media pages and influencers can be very convincing when it comes to labeling foods as “good” or “bad”. This diet culture and extreme fixation on body appearance is toxic to the minds of those who are suffering from an eating disorder.
Those who suffer from eating disorders exhibit behaviors including dietary restriction, purging and laxative abuse, which can cause the body to be in a state of malnutrition and can cause fluid and electrolyte imbalances, structural or anatomical changes, and hormone imbalances. The effects of malnutrition. including fluid and electrolyte imbalances, can lead to potentially life-threatening problems. Malnutrition is a whole body illness, literally affecting every organ system of the body.
After assisting clients with their individual eating disorder, we work on correcting the behavior through adequate nutritional rehabilitation and weight restoration if needed. Those with eating disorders should go through the nutritional restoration phase of treatment being monitored and supported by a medical provider, dietitian, and therapist who understand eating disorders and the dangers as well as the difficulties experienced by patients. Helping an individual effectively nourish their body and replenish crucial nutrients lost from an eating disorder is necessary for physical, emotional, and mental wellness recovery.
Understanding what is needed for their bodies to perform at their full potential is such an important step in their healing. Nutritional rehabilitation includes everything from meal planning for recovery, learning how to normalize eating patterns, intuitive eating, grocery shopping, and more. Our goal is to help our clients become self-sufficient so that when they leave our facility they are able to find the foods that nourish their bodies and satisfy their cravings on their own.
Throughout the nutritional rehabilitation phase of our treatment, we assist our clients in reaching a point where they are able to eat intuitively. This means they are listening to their biological cues of hunger and building a healthy relationship with food. We follow the principles found in the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, specifically discovering the satisfaction factor. According to Tribole and Resch, satisfaction is the hub of intuitive eating and the driving force of intuitive eating.
Living with a diet mentality restricts a person from allowing themselves to indulge in food they are in the mood for or need because they have already labeled that as “bad food”. That person may find themselves digging through the pantry later on looking for more to eat, even when physically full, not realizing they are not satisfied.
Intuitive eating is a process that takes practice in order to really listen to our bodies and honor our preferences. Listening to your body and what it needs may be just what you need to promote a healthier lifestyle for yourself overall.