Eating disorders imprison those suffering from them in anxiety and rumination about weight and food. This state leads to rigid behaviour and sufferers are no long able to act in accordance with their values.
The purpose of the treatment dispensed by the nutritionist, who provides behavioural and cognitive therapies, is to help patients recover flexible eating habits. This means eating a healthy diet when they are hungry and until a feeling of satiety is felt, to enable them return to a stable weight.
An observation phase focuses on looking into the disorder, patient-specific features and the patient’s requirements. Their requirements are assessed in the light of scientific knowledge and therapies that have been tried and tested. This is to define realistic objectives and the methods for attaining them. A nutritional assessment is offered. It consists of evaluating the nutrients contained in the patient’s usual diet. It may be compared with nutritional requirements for overcoming fatigue, and recovering attention capacity and the ability to concentrate. At this stage, the role of nutrients in body and brain function may be discussed.
Patients are monitored in weekly, 45-minute interviews and by therapeutic meals. This makes it possible to orient patients and to assess their progress in accordance with the objectives. They may also be involved in devising personalised menus. During the sessions, beliefs on diet and digestion are looked at and compared with scientific evidence.
Individual sessions exposing patients gradually to ‘prohibited’ foods are offered in order to overcome compulsions and to work on the anxiety they generate.