Meal Planning and Nutrition Counseling
Fairwinds, which offers inpatient eating disorders treatment, uses a non-diet approach for bulimia or anorexia treatment. Upon admission to our facility and initial assessment, the attending physician and the registered dietitian will work together to determine the number of calories the client needs to receive, as well as his or her final goal weight. The goal is for each client to gain at least one and one-half pounds (1.5 lb) per week. Caloric intake will be evaluated at every multidisciplinary team meeting and may be altered as necessary. If additional calories are required in the week between meetings, formula feedings are added.
Our registered dietician conducts individual sessions to assist clients in developing menu plans. After each menu planning session, the registered dietician reviews all of the meals, beverages, condiments and snacks for caloric adequacy and makes any necessary additions. Clients earn individual time with the registered dietician as they improve and work through the levels during treatment. Weekly nutrition education classes rotate on a bi-monthly basis.
The purpose of therapeutic meals is to create an environment in which clients with anorexia nervosa or bulimia can consume all of their prescribed calories with the least discomfort possible. Through this process, our goal is that clients are able to experience satiety without feeling the need to purge, and that eventually meals become enjoyable. It is our sincere hope that every client is able to relinquish his or her obsession with calories and compulsive behaviors surrounding food.
Understanding the Pain Associated with Eating
Dining with someone who must eat even though he or she is terrified of it provides a greater understanding of the genuine pain associated with consuming food. Nowhere is the suffering and uncertainty of individuals with anorexia nervosa more apparent than during mealtime. The anorexia client is usually hungry and wants to eat but is fearful of the effects of eating. This ambivalence is truly obvious during mealtime: the person may be fully absorbed by the food yet unable to eat until the last moment.
Other types of eating disorder behaviors and problems can also become apparent during mealtime. For example, kindness toward others may be observed. Some clients are able to encourage others as they get better. The level of social development may also be monitored, as interactions between clients and an authority figure (the meal monitor) often offers insight into the necessary next psycho-therapeutic step.