Figuring out how to nourish our bodies can be confusing. Add in all the mixed messages and misinformation we get from unreliable sources like celebrities or social influencers, to name a few culprits of spreading confusion, and it can become nearly impossible to figure out what appropriate nutrition should encompass. If you’re struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating and trying to get back on track, navigating nutrition may be too much to take on on your own. McCallum Place provides several opportunities to learn and practice fueling your body in a healthful way. Here’s a peak into what our program provides from a nutritional aspect.
Our Nutrition Philosophy at McCallum Place:
At McCallum Place our goal is to help patients restore a healthy relationship with food through a non-diet approach, focusing on building balance, flexibility, and trust with each meal or snack. We believe weight management is achieved through eating a balanced diet where all foods are considered neutral and we avoid labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” but rather focus on taste. At therapeutic meals and snacks, our staff help patients practice flexibility around food, because we believe this is an essential component to recovery from an eating disorder. Trust is built through patients’ individual sessions with their dietitian, consistent meals and snacks, and feedback around changes in weight and lab values. Over time, patients will move away from feelings of reliance and control toward empowerment and trust with food and their bodies.
What We Provide
- Structured Meals and Snacks: Meals and snacks are scheduled at the same time each day, providing consistency. A meal therapist is present at each meal and snack to provide extra support as needed.
- Adequate Energy: Each patient’s individualized meal plan meets their unique energy needs.
- Balance of Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat: Meals and snacks provide a balance of all macronutrients.
- Choice and Variety: Each patient has a choice between appetizer, entrée, and dessert for each meal and several different snack options that change daily. We update the menu on a three-week cycle, offering an array of options to ensure patients have a variety of foods available.
- Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Options: McCallum Place accommodates a vegetarian diet, as long as it is not an eating disorder behavior. Vegan diets are not accommodated.
- Moderation: Patients are offered caffeine, sweeteners, and condiments in moderation.
- Exposure: Patients have the opportunity to participate in restaurant outings, cooking class, grocery store exposure and coaching, and meal and snack passes. Dietitians also support patients through “fear food challenges” to overcome eating disorder-imposed food rules and provide an opportunity to practice and prepare for real-life scenarios.
- Reflection: Therapeutic post-meal groups make space for patients to reflect on mealtime thoughts, feelings and experiences immediately following each meal and snack. Nutrition Counseling with a dietitian provides the opportunity to discuss and problem solve difficulties within the nutrition restoration process.
- Re-direction and Support Around Food Rituals: Meal therapists assist patients in refraining from engaging in eating disorder behaviors.
- Ability To Practice and Build Trust In Internal Cues: Patients can refamiliarize themselves with their bodily sensations and begin to attempt to reconnect with hunger and fullness cues.
How We Implement Our Nutrition Philosophy
- Assessment with a Registered Dietitian: On admission day, each patient meets with their dietitian for a complete nutritional assessment. During this time, the dietitian determines an appropriate target body weight range and initial meal plan.
- Follow Up with Registered Dietitian: Patients typically meet individually with their dietitian twice per week. At each of these sessions, the dietitian evaluates progress with weight restoration or stabilization and adjusts the meal plan accordingly. While the dietitian dictates when a meal plan needs to be adjusted, the patient often has an opportunity to voice preferences. For example, if a patient is not meeting weekly weight restoration goals, the dietitian will suggest a meal plan increase, but the patient can dictate what meal or snack is adjusted within reason. Notably, meal plan adjustments are not the only thing happening in these sessions, complete nutritional counseling occurs as well.
Common Topics of Discussion in Nutrition Sessions
As pointed out above, meal plan adjustments are not the only thing happening in nutrition sessions. Below are a few, but definitely not all topics, that may be discussed during Nutrition Counseling:
- Education: Nutrition education is key to a successful recovery. Registered Dietitians are experts in how nutrition impacts the human body, thus they are uniquely qualified to provide thorough and science-based education. Dietitians discuss the components of food that are vital to life and how different macro- and micronutrients affect the body. Additionally, discussions around how disordered eating behaviors impact the body can better inform the patient of consequences of their eating disorder both in the short and long term.
- Setting Realistic Expectations: Each dietitian is acutely aware that eating is often extremely difficult for their patients. This will be discussed openly and honestly. If there is a specific struggle reported by a patient or meal therapists, the dietitian will discuss with the patient and may even set up a protocol or extra support to better ensure the patient is getting the support needed at the table.
- Current Struggles: If there is a concern about eating disorder behaviors or thoughts, especially at mealtime, this will be discussed in session. Even if a patient is not currently engaging in disordered behavior, eating disorder urges (restricting, purging, binging, exercising, etc.) are discussed.
- Body Image: Body image is another common discussion topic in nutrition counseling, as weight changes can have a drastic impact on body image that is often already distorted. Body image may be processed in conjunction with other members of the treatment team as well.
- Fear Foods: Evaluation of what specific foods incite anxiety is important in moving beyond the fear. Dietitians work with their patients to identify a hierarchy of fear foods and schedule exposures to these foods, often to be completed together in session.
McCallum Place provides a space to learn a great deal about how to appropriately nourish your body. Whether you prefer to learn more in nutrition group or in individual session with your dietitian, you are presented with plenty of opportunities to ask specific questions and gain confidence in your ability to fuel your body.