Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses. They are characterized by abnormal, irregular eating habits, and an extreme concern with one’s body weight or shape. There are several different manifestations of eating disorders. The various types are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) under the Disorder Class: Feeding and Eating Disorders. The exact cause behind why individuals develop eating disorders remains unknown, but research has found that it is likely due to a combination of psychological, biological, and environmental factors. Eating disorders can be debilitating and can adversely affect an individual’s emotions, health, and interfere with one’s ability to adequately function in his or her daily. If left untreated, eating disorders can result in severe short and long-term consequences. The most common reason to reach out to an eating specialist is to help treat an individual struggling with an eating disorder.
The most widely known type of eating specialist is known as a dietitian. Dietitians are experts in dietetics, which according to the Oxford English Dictionary is defined as “the branch of knowledge concerned with the diet and its effects on health, especially with the practical application of a scientific understanding of nutrition.” A registered dietitian must earn certification through the completion of a bachelor’s degree, supervised experience (at an accredited healthcare facility, community agency, or foodservice corporation), and passing a national exam administered by the Commission of Dietetic Registration. Dietitians have expert knowledge and provide essential input that is commonly incorporated into treatment plans for individuals struggling with eating disorders. They can develop diet and nutrition programs that are tailored to each person’s objectives and personal recovery needs to help correct abnormal eating behaviors.
Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists
A newer type of eating specialist is associated with an Eating Disorder Recovery Specialist (EDRS). In 2013, two psychotherapists based in New York, Greta Gleissner and Ashley Anderson, developed the first nationwide, in-home eating disorder recovery support program that is carried out in one’s own environment. They offer a variety of transitional and supplemental eating disorder services (e.g., therapeutic meal support, clinical coaching, in-home cooking, etc.) for early recovery. Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists explains that their goal is to “support all facets of your life through action-oriented goals, life skills development, self-care practices, and by creating meaning and purpose in your life outside of the eating disorder.” The primary purpose of EDRS is to provide services that enable clients to build applicable life skills while maintaining long-term recovery. Eating disorders are complex psychological conditions that involve extremely unhealthy eating habits, and the recovery process will require nuanced treatment plans that cater to everyone’s unique needs.
The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.