Nutritional Philosophy and Approach
Castlewood’s Approach to Food and NutritionAt Castlewood, we often say that eating disorders are not fundamentally about food per se; often, they have more to do with various stresses, traumas, or other underlying conditions. With that said, it is difficult to discuss eating disorders without talking about food—and one of the hallmarks of our approach is to help clients regain a healthy understanding of food and the act of eating itself without fear or judgment.
An Evidence-Based Approach to NutritionBut what is Castlewood’s approach to nutrition, exactly? Essentially, we are committed to a nutritional philosophy that is founded on evidence-based treatment and cutting-edge clinical practice. What this means is that licensed dietitians are integral members within our clinical team, providing clients with education, support and assistance with specific challenges. As with all of our treatment services, our nutritional approach is ultimately individualized to meet each client’s particular needs.
Finding Balance in NutritionRather than emphasizing certain foods, Castlewood’s dietitians seek to help clients develop a “normalized” eating pattern that will replace food fears with confidence in eating well without food-related shame and judgment. Something we tell our clients often is that “all foods can fit.” We use an exposure-based model to gradually incorporate more and more foods into each patient’s diet, ultimately striving for balance and variety. Normalized eating combines nourishment and pleasure, and Castlewood’s nutrition program guides our clients towards understanding the importance of balancing both. Each client is provided with a set of individual meal guidelines, which are drafted for them by a dietitian based on careful evaluation and clinical reflection. These meals are designed to fit the specific metabolic requirements of the client; as such, one client may be eating different foods or different quantities of food than the next. These guidelines are adjusted throughout the recovery process, as the client’s needs and challenges change and develop.
Exposure to Balanced NutritionCastlewood’s dietitians collaborate with other members of the clinical treatment team to develop challenges specific to each client—challenges meant to gradually break down their unhealthy attitudes toward food and restore a balanced perspective of food as both nourishment and pleasure. Often, these challenges come in the form of different exposures—exposures that might include:
- Eating with peers on the Castlewood grounds
- Eating independently
- Going out to a restaurant with a group
- Going grocery shopping
- Both individual and group cooking sessions
- Binge exposures
- Meal planning
- Practice eating full plates or leaving food behind
Eating Disorder Treatment Based on Sound NutritionNot enough can be said about the importance of individualization in Castlewood’s approach. As in all aspects of our philosophy, we believe in treating individuals—not treating diseases or disorders. We treat anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorders, and Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED). We understand that all of them are different; we also understand that even two clients struggling with the same diagnosis will face different challenges and struggles. That is why we do not take a blanket approach to nutrition. We develop your meal plans only after speaking with you, evaluating your needs and having a conversation with you about the areas where you need help. We seek, above all, to develop a nutritional approach that works for you.
Our Nutritional GoalsUltimately, our nutritional philosophy is all about developing a “normal” relationship to food, to the body, and to the act of eating. Normal eating includes:
- Eating without fear
- Eating with the ability to be flexible
- Eating without excessive “rules” about food
- Understanding the social dimensions of eating
- Balancing nourishment and pleasure to live well