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What's your relationship with food?

In my first year of study while completing my clinic hours I had my first real experience with someone suffering from an eating disorder. The client denied that there was an issue with her weight yet she was showing clear signs of advance PEM (protein energy malnutrition). The woman became my subject for my case study and really turned all my idealist thoughts of “food is medicine” sour. How could food become the enemy for someone? I was seriously concerned for the woman and my assignment required some lecturer advice on how to appropriately manage the case, since she was in denial that her weight was dangerously low.

Treating anorexia is extremely difficult as it requires interventions that are beyond my scope. While the case initially troubled me, it was an important experience in my study path as a nutritionist to understand that not everyone has a healthy relationship with food and their body image.

Since then I have encountered many women and men that have a history of an eating disorder. More commonly though many people are not as severe as being anorexic or bulimic but fall into the condition referred to as disordered eating.

Disordered eating may cover several eating habits such as:

  • Binge eating: this typically is a pattern of eating large amounts and then forgoing food to compensate for the binging.

  • Orthorexia: this is the condition of making food so impossibly perfect that eating becomes a barrier. Does it have to be vegan, paleo, alkaline and keto? Or are you simply avoiding food? This does cross over with obsessive compulsive disorder.

  • Calorie counting: this is the person who knows exactly how many hours of exercise they need to do to burn breakfast.

  • Sugar addiction: this is common for many people. It is only when the offending foods are taken away is it clear that sugar can have a real grip on the individual’s eating habits.

Possible causes of disordered eating

As a nutritionist I am able to support people who suffer from disordered eating by understanding and treating the underlying cause of the dysfunction. For example, if stress is causing binge eating it is vital to support the adrenal and nervous system. A person who is OCD and is displaying orthorexia requires investigation into possible deficiencies of vitamin D, B12, iron and folate. In the common condition of sugar addiction is treated by looking at the gut and whether dysbiosis is feeding the obsession.

Further consideration when treating disordered eating is whether there is Autism Spectrum symptoms. ASD can really dictate how someone eats. Many may only eat white foods while others compulsively measure every mouthful. Those that have ASD need the appropriate nutritional supplementation to make sure that they are not at risk of deficiencies and protein energy malnutrition.

The need to refer: All my treatment aims can be supportive in improving eating habits for disordered eating. I cannot however support them emotionally and really understand the anguish that a food addict may experience. As a practitioner it is important to refer and understand the benefits of collaborative treatment plans.


Vanessa Kredler and Macole Wassef

Vanessa is a registered counsellor, life coach and public speaker. Her passion for supporting people through food addictions is driven by her own personal struggle with food addiction. For most of her life she struggled with binge eating disorder. It was only through her own battle and personal research into how to deal with food addictions did Vanessa find recovery from food addiction. Vanessa is committed to helping others recover from the grip that food addictions have on people’s lives.

Vanessa is passionate about raising awareness about food addiction because when she first sought help there wasn't any help out there. There's plenty of therapy for eating disorders but all the therapy in the world didn't deal with her underlying food addiction. Vanessa believes that addictive eating is more common than we think in today's 'obesogenic' environment with all the processed foods that are available 24/7. Yet food addiction is not really a mainstream term used by the medical profession yet although research evidence that it exists is growing fast. Vanessa uses her knowledge from the underground movement of food addiction recovery to help her clients let go of addictive eating, lose weight and become free from food obsession.

Vanessa’s personal experience and treatment path could be the light that food addicts may be seeking. If you are interested in finding out more about Vanessa Kredler visit her website

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