Management of eating disorders and disordered eating involves a multidisciplinary team. Each member has a unique perspective of the disorder, allowing each professional to address a specific area as they collaboratively treat the patient. Registered dietitians who work with patients with eating disorders and disordered eating must understand the diagnostic criteria for these conditions as well as the appropriate treatment goals and interventions for each disorder. In treating each patient, the professional dietitian can refer to a standard protocol as well as the patient’s individual needs.
Beth Ayn Conway, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN, is a dietitian in York, Pa., providing outpatient medical nutrition therapy for a variety of clients, including those with eating disorders.
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An eating disorder is a psychological issue manifested through food and eating. People with eating disorders have severe disturbances in eating behavior or an excessive preoccupation with body shape or weight. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders identifies some of the criteria for eating disorders. Given their multifactorial nature, treatment requires an experienced interdisciplinary team that includes registered dietitian nutritionists. Depending on the severity of the illness, treatment may be provided in an inpatient or outpatient setting, with varying levels of intensity. Unfortunately, recovery rates are low. Dietitians need to know how to detect eating disorders and develop a treatment plan that works.
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