Nutrition for Anorexia, Bulimia, and Other Eating Disorders
At The Meadows Ranch, our first goal with our patients is to help them restore their full mental and emotional capacities through adequate nutrition. We do this by sitting down for meals with patients to monitor eating, food intake, and thought patterns. Through our conversations at mealtime, patients learn to develop eating patterns that are normal in time, manner, and amount of food eaten.
Eating Disorders and Nutrition
More importantly, our culinary training program helps patients learn how to prepare nutritional meals once they go home. Activities include maintaining and harvesting our herb and vegetable garden, using shared kitchen equipment, food shopping, meal planning, and practicing necessary cooking skills. These activities help the patient to develop a more positive relationship with food and teach them how to meet their nutritional needs.
Nutrition therapy is crucial for patients with eating disorders, and it is a challenging process for many reasons. Maintaining good physical and psychological health goes hand in hand with adequately nourishing the body and having a healthy body weight. If the body isn’t well-nourished, the brain won’t function properly, making it difficult for the patient to engage fully in her treatment.
For this reason, the foundation of eating disorder treatment at The Meadows Ranch is nourishment. Our Registered Dietitians (RD) make sure that every patient is receiving the correct meal plan with the appropriate number of calories for her individual weight restoration or weight maintenance needs.
The first step in working toward proper nourishment is a thorough nutrition assessment and the development of an individualized plan of care. During the evaluation, the RD discovers the history of the eating disorder, including restricting, exercising, binging, and/or purging behaviors. This meeting also allows the RD to learn the patient’s motivation for treatment and recovery.
In some cases, close medical monitoring is needed in the early stages of recovery. We have doctors and registered nurses available to provide support 24 hours a day, and we are registered by The Joint Commission.
Eating Disorder Treatment
Research continues to reveal how eating a balanced diet can help improve one’s overall well-being, minimize stress, and increase spiritual consciousness. A healthy diet can also promote more restful sleep, a stronger immune system, improved focus and concentration, and overall energy. Nutritional guidance is an integral component of the healing process at The Meadows Ranch.
Reaching a Healthy Weight
An important part of establishing a healthy goal weight is the patient’s weight history. This includes the patient’s highest/lowest weight and what behaviors led to those particular weights. When a patient has a significant amount of weight to restore, a goal of 2-3 pounds of weight gain per week is typical. When a patient is at, or close to, her Ideal Body Weight (IBW) the primary focus is managing the eating disorder behaviors and progression toward a healthy relationship with food.
At The Meadows Ranch, we provide patient’s maintenance calories by way of three balanced meals per day along with snacks. These meals and snacks teach the patient what her meal plan will look like as she continues to recover and maintains a healthy weight. Weight gain calories are provided through medical nutrition supplements or nasogastric tube feeding if necessary. High calorie, nutrient dense supplements or tube feeding formula offers more nutrients and calories with a smaller volume. After achieving a healthy weight, a patient still typically needs to eat more calories than individuals of the same weight that do not have eating disorders to maintain her new healthy weight. This is due to a hypermetabolic period that tends to last between three and six months after weight restoration.
The patient may have also used compulsive exercising as a means to lose weight. Because exercise is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, we teach the patients guidelines to help them enjoy physical activity without abusing it.
We Educate Our Patients on Nutrition
It takes time for nutritional recovery to affect thoughts and behaviors of semi-starvation. The periods of highest anxiety, distress, and body image distortion most often occur at the beginning of refeeding, and again right before the patient reaches a healthy weight. Parents and loved ones must remain patient and maintain optimism during the weight restoration process.
Recovery from an eating disorder is possible and is happening every day at The Meadows Ranch. For information about our treatment programs, please call 866-390-5100 or complete the form below for more details on how we can help.