If you follow all the steps and do X, Y, and Z, it should add up to eating disorder recovery, right?
Realistically, it’s more complex than that. One thing science has shown is that if you’re underweight, weight restoration is a necessity to recover.
That’s the message Erin Parks, PhD and Kristina Saffran shared on a recent episode of Equipped to Recover.
Erin Parks is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the research and treatment of eating disorders. She’s the Chief Clinical Officer and Chief Operating Officer at Equip Health, a revolutionary treatment provider that offers virtual care for adolescents aged 6-24, covered by insurance in all 50 states.
She was joined in conversation by Equip’s CEO, Kristina Saffran. They’re united in a shared mission to bring effective, affordable, and accessible care to everyone with eating disorders. Keep reading to learn why they believe weight restoration is essential for eating disorder recovery.
Why is Weight Restoration Necessary?
It all comes down to one thing: you can’t treat a malnourished brain.
While some clinicians have focused on motivating patients to improve their self-image and behavior first, research shows that this approach is insufficient.
Erin Parks & Kristina Saffran explain that starvation can lead to increased:
Addressing malnutrition and achieving weight restoration must take priority to stabilize the brain and reduce mental health symptoms.
Until full weight restoration is achieved, eating disorder voices, anxiety, and depression can persist.Dr. Erin Parks
Without proper nutrition, therapy is less effective and can even be harmful. Equip uses Family-based treatment (FBT), the only evidence-based treatment for children, adolescents, and young adults with eating disorders. FBT emphasizes nutritional rehabilitation as a critical first step.
Weight Restoration in a Virtual Setting
Equip is taking the current knowledge around weight restoration further. They’re in the process of researching how to best monitor weight restoration in a virtual care setting. Specifically, they’re looking to shed light on how the knowledge of weight affects recovery.
In the meantime, they meet the patient where they’re at for weigh-ins. Depending on the patient’s comfort level, they can either:
- Report their own weight
- Have a loved one report it for them
- Have it taken at a medical facility
There is debate in the eating disorder field about whether patients should know their weight or not. Regardless, as medical providers, Equip believes it’s important to monitor weight twice a week during the weight restoration period.
It’s About More Than the Weight
Weight restoration can bring up a lot of fears, and a feeling of being out of control.
Through Equip’s Family based treatment model, and their peer mentors, there are many resources to help you through the complicated emotional waters of weight restoration. They merge the science of recovery with the realities of lived experience to help keep you on track to a better life.
This is a hard illness to fight alone. You’re fighting your brain many times a day, and you need support to help you do that.Kristina Saffran
Weight restoration can be a difficult and emotional process. Equip recognizes that people require support during this period.
Click here to learn more about Equip.