Nutritional Support And Healthy Eating Habits

Nutritional Support and Healthy Eating Habits

Est. reading time: 2 mins
Posted Under: Interviews

Clinically Reviewed by: Amanda Fialk, PhD, LCSW, LICSW

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Originally published in March 2017. 

In honor of National Nutrition Month, we’re highlighting our food and nutrition support services. While statistics showing that over 30 million Americans will struggle with eating disorders at some point in their life, the most at-risk population remains young adults who have faced mental health and substance abuse challenges.¹ Understanding that nutrition and food health is an integral part of recovery and developing personal independence for our members, we sat down with one of our facilitators to learn more.

Why are these servces important?

 Young adults in recovery from mental health and substance abuse have rarely had responsibility for planning their own meals. They may have a base awareness about what it means to make healthy choices, but they have no idea how to ‘get started’. Being able to plan meals with confidence and nutritional awareness is a key step towards independent living, a central goal for all of our members. Our services help them build these skills from scratch, starting with learning to shop at the grocery store and read nutrition labels, to creating structure and accountability around regular meals.

Another important focus of this service is identifying the presence of disordered eating (both emotional eating and overeating) as a substitute for when other coping behaviors and substances are no longer available. We help members make this connection to help mitigate further harm and channel positive choices that will boost their physical and mental health.

What’s involved?

  • Group discussions on body image, cognitive distortions, and understanding food stressors.
  • Pre and post-meal discussions, in-home visits, and phone support.
  • Identifying and examining food rituals and body checking behaviors.
  • Developing ‘mindful’ eating habits, aligning on food and nutritional goals and keeping track of progress through journaling.
  • Learning to portion and plan meals in a safe and structured setting.
  • Navigating menus and engaging in therapeutic exposures to grocery shopping and clothes shopping.
  • Helping members distinguish between emotional hunger and fullness and physical hunger and fullness and understanding how life stressors can impact appetite and food choices.

Who can benefit and how does The Dorm help clients in need?

We support a broad range of members, including individuals who are stabilized in their Eating Disorder (ED) diagnosis but could benefit from continued meal support through varied life transitions, members who do not have an ED diagnosis but are struggling to make healthy food choices, or individuals who are simply looking to improve the variety and nutritional value of their meals.

We also support members who are currently undergoing treatment for ED and need concurrent mental health and/or substance abuse treatment. This can include working directly with day treatment and outpatient programs, individual nutritionists, doctors and other treatment providers to arrange and offer supplemental eating disorder support.

Sources:

¹http://nedawareness.org/about
https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/get-facts-eating-disorders

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