Eating Disorders: Who to Turn to | The Family Fork

Eating Disorders: Who to Turn to

I recently spoke at a national conference for youth leaders in Los Angeles where I was asked to address eating disorders in adolescents. Eating disorders at one time was my area of interest in the field of nutrition and dietetics. In fact, the reason why I migrated towards a career in nutrition. But as I became more involved with the childhood obesity issue I became less involved with eating disorders.

This conference gave me an opportunity to renew my interest in this issue, and the opportunity to tackle the topic with two psychologists who were also guest speakers. The fact that these psychologists joined me at this conference is key, because it is important to understand that treatment for eating disorders is primarily focused on mental health; diet and nutrition is secondary. In fact, often the eating disorder patient knows just as much about the calories and fat grams in food as the dietitian does.

This certainly does not mean that the dietitian's role is not important, it is indeed. But the psychological factors that often contribute to the development of an eating disorder must be addressed. Feelings of low self-esteem, inadequacy, lack of control in life, depression, anxiety, anger, or loneliness are common in these individuals. This came up over and over again in the discussion at the conference, reinforcing the need to seek mental health treatment.

I wanted to share this with you because I know I speak of childhood obesity quite a bit. But this is another serious dilemma our youth may face. If you or your child is struggling with an eating disorder there are health professionals in your area you can turn to. To find someone in your location go to the National Eating Disorders Association's website at and click on 'Treatment Referrals'. You can input your information and they will give you a list of professionals near you.

To your health..
  • 1
Was this article helpful? Yes No

About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.