Happy National Dietitians Day!

March 17 marks the 12th annual Dietitians Day in Canada, meant to shine a light on the profession and remind Canadians that dietitians are a trusted choice for reliable life-changing food and nutrition advice.

Dietitians play an important role on the care team for people with Eating Disorders. They offer a lifeline to people who often don’t know where to start when it comes to nourishing their body appropriately. Unfortunately, Canadian dietitians don’t get much training in Eating Disorders in their formal education, and many don’t know where to begin when it comes to treating or identifying these complex mental illnesses.

Body Brave is a not-for-profit organization which provides community treatment for those with Eating Disorders and educational programs and training for healthcare professionals. To help fill the gap in education for dietitians Body Brave has created an online course for those wanting to feel more comfortable assessing and treating Eating Disorders in their practice. Training and Education Coordinator at Body Brave, Erin Huston, says this new training grew out of a session they facilitated as part of their annual Body Peace Conference. “Many dietitians attended the conference, participated in that training session and we got a lot of incredible feedback and continued conversation about how necessary this is and how dietitians aren’t really given the tools that they necessarily need in their formal training,” she says.

Taking that feedback into consideration, Body Brave created an asynchronous virtual course meant to give any dietitian the confidence to work with people with Eating Disorders. The training covers the biopsychosocial model of Eating Disorder development, symptoms and warning signs, what recovery can look like, how to build support systems and facilitate referrals, the development of nutrition plans including structured and intuitive eating models, and how to communicate effectively with both their client and other healthcare professionals who may be integral in the person’s treatment team.

Erin says the training is great for any dietitian who wants to learn more about treating Eating Disorders. “A lot of times people are hesitant to dive into these conversations with clients because they are scared of saying the wrong thing or making something worse,” she says. “We really just want to give the tools and language that people need specifically. Dietitians need to be able to communicate well with their clients who are struggling with Eating Disorders,”

Body Brave launched the dietitian training on February 15 and Erin says there has already been a lot of people signing up and taking advantage of the course. The training was developed in consultation with several dietitians who are well versed in treating Eating Disorders however Erin says input about how they can improve it is always welcome. “We’ve been getting lots of great feedback and we’re continuing to improve the course in different ways and add different things as we’re getting more and more of that feedback, which is great.”

Overall the feedback that Body Brave has received from the training has been overwhelmingly positive. “This course was incredible,” one participant wrote in Body Brave’s post-training survey.  “I took a lot of valuable tools and resources from it and I really appreciate how inclusive this course is. I think it is so important that it addresses oppression and racism which is lacking in traditional dietetic education…This is perfect for any clinician who wants exposure to ED and to gain skills to safely support clients.”

Check out this link to get to the Eventbrite page where you can sign up for the course. The cost for the training is reasonable at only $160 and participants have 90 days to go through the roughly 3-4 hour program at their own pace.

Body Brave has also created a similar training for physicians and they are also looking at developing one for other healthcare professionals like social workers. “Hopefully this one is just a jumping off point,” Erin says. “We’re very excited about it.”

Are you a dietitian who would benefit from Eating Disorders training? What skills do you think you are lacking in order to treat Eating Disorders effectively?