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Eating Disorders Treatment in Athletes & Sports with RDNs in the St. Louis Area, Missouri, and Illinois

Medical Nutrition Therapy for Athletes Struggling with Anorexia, Bulimia, Orthorexia, ARFID, Disordered Eating, and Other Eating Disorders

What are eating disorders in athletes?

Eating disorders can look different in the athletic population largely due to the extra physical demands and performance requirements of the sport. Because athletes are influencing the energy availability balance differently than the less active individuals, they have different nutrition requirements regardless if there is an eating disorder/disordered eating present.

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Do athletes have a higher rate of eating disorders?

Yes, the athletic population does have an increased risk of developing an eating disorder due to certain vulnerabilities such as...

  • Extra focus on the body as a vehicle for performance

  • Extra focus on food to fuel the body

  • Participating in a sport that is appearance-oriented

  • Drive to be "perfect" and "disciplined"

  • Poor coaching styles that are preoccupied with leanness

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What sport is most likely to have an eating disorder?

Eating disorders can affect anyone and all athletes. However, research shows an increased risk for those participating in sports that have a focus on aesthetic, weight, and leanness. Some examples would be (but not limited to) dance, gymnastics, wrestling, swimming, endurance sports, bodybuilding, rowing, and so forth.

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How to Prevent Eating Disorders in Athletes?

Preventing eating disorders in athletes requires a collaborative effort between coaches, families, and athletes themselves. Here are some tips for coaches and families:

For Coaches:

  • Promote a body positive image

  • Provide education

  • Monitor training load

  • Create a supportive environment

  • Lead by example

For Families:

  • Encourage balanced eating

  • Promote body positivity

  • Be attentive to changes (in your child's weight, behaviors around food, and eating habits).

  • Communicate

It is important to note that an individual who has dedicated themselves to a sport generally will take on the identity of an athlete. Therefore, athletes often strongly care about their body as a vehicle for their performance.

If you believe you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, seek professional support from a qualified healthcare professional, including a registered dietitian and mental health counselor.

Our athletes are met with compassion to help find a balance with their health and performance. We provide online and in-person outpatient nutrition therapy. We believe recovery is possible. 

Treatment for Eating Disorders and/or Disordered Eating in Athletes

We provide eating disorder care for everyBODY. 

 

A dietitian nutritionist is a fundamental piece of your recovery team. As expert eating disorder dietitians in the St. Louis area, we work with patients to guide them toward healing their relationship with food and body. We offer virtual nutrition counseling, or face-to-face appointments in our Illinois and Missouri offices.

 

Here’s what you can expect:

Assessment and Individualized Planning

Athletes are considered a different population therefore, they have different nutritional needs than the general public. You will get support from a fitness dietitian who understands the unique nutrient needs for your sport and health.

Ongoing Support

Ongoing support is essential throughout the treatment process. This may include regular check-ins with your ED dietitian to track progress, address challenges, and make any necessary adjustments to the nutrition plan. We recommend our ongoing recovery coaching.

Normalization of Eating Patterns

It is not always easy to balance a typical schedule with the additional demands of a sport. Work with a dietitian who will build personal game plans that fit your schedule, performance, and health. 

Meal Planning and Food Challenges

Meal planning and exposure to feared foods or situations are often incorporated into treatment to help you overcome restrictive or binge-purge behaviors and develop a more flexible and balanced approach to eating.

Nutritional Education

Nutrition education is a big part of our recovery program. This can help you develop a better understanding of your unique athletic nutritional needs and foster a positive relationship with food. Food is more than just fuel.

Collaboration with Other Treatment Providers

We work closely with your interdisciplinary team of therapists, psychiatrists, and other members of the treatment team to ensure a coordinated approach to care. This may involve sharing progress reports, coordinating interventions, and addressing any underlying psychological issues that contribute to disordered eating behaviors.

Our goal is to help you restore your relationship with food and body, develop sustainable habits, and support you through your recovery process.

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