Why is nutritional care important in eating disorder recovery?


In This Article:

Looking for
treatment options?
We Can Help
100% Confidential

An eating disorder can lead to severe health consequences for all systems of the body such as electrolyte imbalance, osteoporosis, and heart issues. Malnourishment leads to vitamin and mineral deficiencies which affect the body and the brain. The lack of absorption of critical nutrients into the body prevents the brain from producing neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals, which help the brain maintain healthy thought patterns. Since individuals suffering from an eating disorder are often not producing sufficient amounts of neurotransmitters, it is common for them to experience depression, lack of self-esteem, and develop an unhealthy relationship with food.

Why is nutritional care important?

The physical and mental damage caused to the body from an eating disorder makes nutritional care and rehabilitation an essential component of recovery. For some clients, this step may include weight restoration, which ensures that the body is at a healthy weight in which one can function correctly (i.e., normal vital signs, regular menstrual cycle, etc.).  At Selah House, our treatment program helps clients achieve normal vital signs and body function and ensure the body is receiving adequate energy.

In a residential treatment setting, clients receive structured meals and snacks, allowing them to become more aware of their hunger and fullness cues. This awareness, coupled with a recovery-focused mentality, such as no longer using compensatory behaviors, will enable clients to regain trust with their bodies and their ability to nourish themselves and to slowly begin moving towards intuitive eating. Clients will be educated on intuitive eating and gain a foundation to continue having a flexible structure to their meals and snacks once in a lower level of care.

Nutritional Care at Selah House

The nutrition program at Selah House is based on “real life” eating, including intuitive eating and the premise that “All Foods Can Fit.” Our clients learn to feel comfortable as no food is labeled bad or good, but all foods are acceptable in a nutritionally-sound meal plan that includes balance, variety, and moderation.

At Selah House, our registered dietitians, Shelby Duncan, RD, CD, and Rachel VanWoerden MA, RDN, meet with clients one to two times per week for nutritional care that includes:

  • discussion of their meal plan
  • addressing anxiety issues surrounding meals and foods
  • receiving on-going nutrition education
  • discussion of exercise and physical activity recommendations
  • establishing a place of neutrality in their relationship to food
  • challenging any cognitive distortions using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and motivational interviewing

It is important for clients to establish a foundation for various food and nutrition-related settings at home.  To address this, we use real-life challenges including eating a meal at a restaurant and going to the grocery store. It is most rewarding watching the clients develop a new relationship with food and body while finding freedom from the eating disorder.

Selah House is unique because treatment impacts the whole person – physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental aspects. It is tailored to meets the client’s needs and personal goals. As the only licensed inpatient treatment center for eating disorders in Indiana, our dietitians work in conjunction with the clinical and medical team to offer support and reinforce the treatment plan goals.

Meet our Dietitians

Shelby Duncan, RD, CD, works with our clients to create individualized meal plans that are appropriate for their specific treatment needs.  Utilizing the all-foods-fit model and Intuitive Eating Principles, she helps clients understand balance, variety, and moderation for a healthy lifestyle. Shelby is originally from Delaware, Ohio and attended Bluffton University earning a degree in food and nutrition.  She then moved on and completed her dietetic internship through the University of Connecticut with a clinical focus at Hartford Hospital.

Rachel VanWoerden MA, RDN works with clients to help them learn food preparation and meal planning skills through individual sessions and groups. As clients participate in these sessions, they learn to build trust with their body and confidence in their ability to receive adequate nutrition. Rachel grew up in Indianapolis and attended Ball State University to complete her undergraduate and graduate degrees in nutrition and dietetics. During the summer of 2016, passed her registration exam to become a Registered Dietitian. It was after this time that she was blessed to join the Selah House team.

At Selah House, we work with our clients to develop an individualized treatment plan that meets their specific needs and goals. Our wide variety of therapeutic activities, coupled with individual and group sessions, and comprehensive nutritional support provide a healing environment for our clients to find freedom from their eating disorder.


So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Take the First step for yourself or someone your love

Related Posts

Subscribe to Our Monthly Newsletter

Get exclusive resources, find inspiration, and grow alongside us. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter now!

Scroll to Top