Notes from an eating disorder
nutrition counselor

What it’s like Working with a Registered Dietitian

What it’s like Working with a Registered Dietitian

Written by: Sarah Ortiz, RD, LD

What do you think of when you hear the title “Registered Dietitian”? Many people believe that a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RD/RDN) will tell you what to eat or what not to eat and are sometimes thought of as the food police. For someone with an eating disorder, the idea of having someone control your food and eating experience is likely quite daunting. Have you ever wondered what exactly an eating disorder registered dietitian (ED RD) does or what it might be like to work with one? Continue reading to find out!

Eating disorder dietitians are part of a multidisciplinary team, which often includes mental health professionals and medical providers. Registered dietitians bring a special expertise to the table in the treatment of eating disorders as they are experts in the field of nutrition, meaning that they can “translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living” (1) RDNs are involved in every stage of eating disorder treatment, with different stages often bringing different roles. There may be times where nutritional stabilization is needed, while at other times it will be necessary to apply various counseling techniques to help others heal and improve their relationship with food and body. (2)

While it is important to note that every person is different and no two eating disorders are the same, you might expect to work on some of the following topics with an eating disorder registered dietitian (3,4):

  • Develop an individualized meal plan and/or eating pattern that meets your individual nutrition needs
  • Address and/or prevent nutritional deficiencies 
  • Discuss important nutrition education regarding foods and nutrients and how they serve the body
  • Incorporate challenge foods to help bring a sense of normalcy into your eating if appropriate
  • Work through challenges that arise during mealtimes, such as eating too quickly or slowly, anxiety about eating around others, or analyzing various foods on the plate
  • Understand how medical conditions, such as diabetes or food allergies, can be managed in eating disorder treatment as appropriate

In addition to nutritional needs and mealtime practices, a large part of treatment includes making peace with food(s) and exploring body image. Have you ever noticed feelings of guilt or accomplishment after eating a certain food, or labeled foods as “good” or “bad”? The dietitian has the knowledge and skills to provide education and support around neutralizing foods in a healthy way. An ED RD can work with you to:

  • Reframe your mindset around food
  • Identify disordered eating thoughts
  • Uncomplicate the task of eating and find enjoyment in eating
  • Explore body image concerns and assist in promoting a healthy relationship with your body
  • Work with you to heal and create a healthy relationship with movement if appropriate 

Overall, my goal as a dietitian working in the field of eating disorders and disordered eating is to empower clients to understand HOW and WHY they are fueling their bodies and help them find the confidence and ability to choose foods that taste and feel good to their bodies. In a world obsessed with “clean” eating and body image there is endless information available about food, nutrition, and health. Working with a dietitian can help differentiate the science of nutrition and diet culture fads, and restore a healthy relationship with food and body. 


  4. (?)

Newsletter Signup

Get Melissa’s latest tips and insights!

Schedule a free consultation

Take the first step towards transforming your relationship with food. We can do this together.

Start focusing on intuitive eating and gain the resources and help you need to enjoy food again!