What is Behavioral Health Nutrition?
Behavioral health nutrition includes areas such as addiction, mental illness, eating disorders, as well as intellectual and developmental disabilities. These conditions all require targeted nutrition interventions. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists who specialize in these areas can be a critical member of the treatment team. Learn more about the Dietetic Practice Group HERE.
It is reported that twenty percent of Americans will experience a mental illness, and up to seven percent of American adults will experience a serious mental illness in any given year. Given those statistics, it is extremely likely that the majority of people in the United States are either suffering from or know someone that is suffering from some type of mental illness.
Providing nutrition services to individuals that have behavioral health issues is an important and complicated task. In many cases, the lines are not clear-cut, and an individual may be dealing with more than one diagnosis. It is not uncommon for a person to have a mental illness as well as an eating disorder or substance abuse problem.
A physician is responsible for initially diagnosing psychiatric conditions, including eating disorders, but effective treatment is typically carried out by a team of professionals. This includes mental health and medical practitioners, counselors, and registered dietitians. Due to the fact that there are many things involved with a behavioral health diagnosis, it is critical for each individual to get the personalized care they need to recover. There are a number of things to be taken into consideration concerning treatment including age, learning style, culture, and education.
In regard to eating disorders in particular, there are numerous goals in terms of nutrition care and nutritional rehabilitation. Overall, a main focus is to assist the individual in creating and maintaining new lifestyle habits. Additionally, it is important for them to be comfortable with their body and body image. This involves eating a varied diet that includes items from all food groups in appropriate amounts. A reduction and subsequent elimination of compensatory behaviors such as excessive exercise, vomiting, or use of laxatives is also a primary goal of treatment.
Nutrition plays a major role in the treatment of behavioral health conditions and mental illness. To improve the chances of success, it is crucial that the individual considers a dietary approach to healing along with any psychiatric and spiritual steps they are taking. Through a combination of efforts and teamwork, recovery is possible!