Can nutritional treatment be effective in eating disorders?

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Nutritional treatment is crucial, because patients of eating disorders are malnourished and psychological treatment, in this case is, hardly difficult. Avoiding any medical complications, maintaining adequate nutritional state and intake of sufficient, organized and well-balanced food are main aims of nutritional treatment (Iglesias et al., 2004).

Life plan is provided to the patient at the beginning of nutritional treatment, which consists of control of the bathroom, pharmacological prescription, elementary rules for a normal nutrition, rest periods, and further indications along with possible restrictions.

 

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Can nutritional treatment be effective in eating

disorders?

 

 

Mostly it is considered that eating disorders are treated through psychological treatment. As eating disorders (ED) are complicated & basically psychological disorders due to alterations in eating behavior. Characterization of these disorders by cognitive distortions & an unusual nutritional pattern which produce medical complications & serious nutritional alterations. Consequently, the dietary approach is essential. To modify the altered eating behavior, nutritional treatment is considered effective. This part of the treatment must be carried out by a nutritionist (part of an interdisciplinary team). The psychologists, nurses, doctors and nutritionists must be in interdisciplinary team. Constant communication must be made by all member of the team about the evolving situation of the patient. To make nutritional treatment effective, family role of the patient is fundamental. Age, psychological situation, nutritional state, nutritional & clinical histories & attitude of patient towards disease and treatment must be considered by nutritionist (Jáuregui, 2006).

The nutritional treatment:

The nutritional team functions in eating disorder units have to:

  1. Assess the nutritional state of the patient.
  2. Treat the nutritional deficiencies or malnutrition of the patient.
  3. Provide nutritional education to patients & their families.
  4. Diagnose the organic sequelae & related illness.
  5. Treat already present organic complications.

Nutritional treatment is crucial, because patients of eating disorders are malnourished and psychological treatment, in this case is, hardly difficult. Avoiding any medical complications, maintaining adequate nutritional state and intake of sufficient, organized and well-balanced food are main aims of nutritional treatment (Iglesias et al., 2004).

Life plan is provided to the patient at the beginning of nutritional treatment, which consists of control of the bathroom, pharmacological prescription, elementary rules for a normal nutrition, rest periods, and further indications along with possible restrictions.

How to nutritional treatment be effective?

  • Cereal & fruits milkshake (homemade) or oral supplements (protein-calorie) for patients suffering from malnutrition.
  • 5 to 2 liters / day, recommended quantity of water.
  • Five intakes daily: breakfast, midmorning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner.
  • Dairy product (e.g. full milk), a piece of fresh fruit (can be natural juice too), a portion of (bread or cereals) is present in breakfast.
  • Nuts & dried fruit, dairy products, cereals, sandwiches, fruits, and seldom pastry are included in midmorning and afternoon snacks.
  • Groups of foods with accurate frequency, a portion of bread and a piece of fruit are included in lunch and the dinner.
  • Soft drinks and packed juices should be avoided.
  • Alcoholic drinks are strictly forbidden.
  • Goodies are not allowed, in order to avoid the excessive consumption of simple sugars.
  • Neither to the quality nor the quantity of food be ignored by the patients.
  • To allow the patients to better obey to all rules accordingly, generally, all meals should be carried out at home.
  • Any distraction as watching TV, playing with their computer or talking on their mobile phone should be avoided during meal.
  • Conversation on topics like body image, diets, eating disorder and weight must be avoided by family members.
  • Eat in correct manner, using cutlery properly, not to allow the patient leave the table until the end of the meal (González et al., 2001).
  • Ability to control of the bathroom is important to control vomiting, laxatives and diuretics. Patients cannot enter the bathroom until nineteen minutes after meals.
  • Remove the weighing scale from homes so that patients cannot know their weight, because this data can harm the evolution of patients.
  • No activity after meal and there must be a rest period for patients.
  • Nutritionist specifies a schedule of meal and rest for each patient, which assures the compliance of the nutrition and rest guidelines.
  • The night’s sleep must last eight hours approximately.
  • If the patient is suffering malnutrition all type of physical activity must be forbidden.
  • To avoid the patients to cook their own meals, throw food, peck or binge, kitchen must be closed.
  • Also close the bathroom, the aim of controlling or closing the bathroom is to avoid patients can practice physical exercise or use compensatory techniques such as vomiting, laxatives or diuretics.
  • Prefer home cooked food instead of out-home meals. Person that cook food for patient must respect the nutrition rules explained by the nutritionist.

 

  • The patients with eating disorders buy their own food, look all nutrients that these foods contain and cook their own meals and aim is to get a better efficacy in the nutritional treatment.
  • The recommended frequency of food consumption is explained, including all groups of food: bread and cereals 3 times a day, dairy 4-5 times a day, vegetables 1-2 times a day (a portion should be raw, e.g. a salad) and fruits 2-3 times a day, rice and pasta 2-4 times a week, legumes 2-3 times a week, potatoes 2-3 times a week, fish 4-5 times a week, meat 3-4 times a week and eggs 3-4 times a week.

 

Nutritional treatment is especially based on the nutritional education with patients and their families. Patients and families express irrational food beliefs which the nutritionist must treat with them. It is also called nutritional therapy. A nutritional intervention program includes basic topics like food groups and their nutritional composition, explanations for irrational food beliefs, nutritional guidelines, information on culinary techniques, and dietary strategies to modify the wrong nutritional habits and eating behavior (Muñoz et al, 2004).

 

Effectiveness of Nutrition Therapy on Eating Disorder patients:

Aside from education and retraining, registered dietitians correct nutrient deficiencies to improve people’s general health. As a result, patients experience a range of benefits.

  • Improved digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Guts begin to heal, then rest of their bodies start to feel better.
  • Immunity increased. When body is not healthy, the body is more susceptible to autoimmune disorders and disease progression.
  • Eating a balanced diet allows the body to stabilize blood sugars.
  • Mood gets positive gradually.
  • Outlook of life become better.

References:

  1. Iglesias C., Gómez C., de Cos AI. & Castillo Rosa. (2004). Papel del médico nutriólogo en las unidades de trastornos de la conducta alimentaria, In: Nutrición y Metabolismo en Trastornos de la Conducta Alimentaria, Miján de la Torre A., pp. 493-505, Glosa, ISBN 84-7429-192-5, Barcelona.
  2. Jáuregui I. (2006). La imagen de una sociedad enferma: anorexia, bulimia, atracones y obesidad (2a Edición). Grafema, ISBN: 84-934225-9-2, Barcelona.
  3. Muñoz M., Aranceta J. & García-Jalón I. (2004). Nutrición aplicada y dietoterapia (2a Edición). EUNSA, ISBN 84-313-2196-2, Navarra.
  4. González I., Pérez J. & Peinó R. (2001). Anorexia y bulimia nerviosa, In: Trastornos alimentarios, Diéguez C. & Yturriaga R., McGraw Hill Interamericana, ISBN 978-84- 486-0431-8, Madrid.
  5. https://www.magnolia-creek.com/eating-disorder-recovery-blog/nutrition-therapy-for-eating-disorders.

 

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About Author

Islam and Eating Disorders founded in 2012 – run by Maha Khan, the blog creates awareness of Eating Disorders in the Muslim world, offers information and support for sufferers and their loved ones.

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