As a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer working with clients/patients with eating disorders, I’m extremely passionate about providing personal trainers with the tools they need to to screen clients for potential eating disorders, disordered eating behaviors, and exercise addiction, and also giving them the confidence to refer to complementary professionals like dietitians and therapists when needed. Today, I’m excited to share a conversation between Matt Stranberg, a registered dietitian and certified strength and conditioning coach and myself about how to screen for an eating disorder and what to do if you suspect your client is struggling. Matt is the nutritionist and exercise science advisor for the GOALS program and Walden Behavioral Care, an eating disorder center here Massachusetts.
As personal trainers we’re taught to educate, motivate, and inspire our clients. We frame our services as the “ultimate accountability tool”. We attract clients who want to change their body and change their life. We are taught to cheerlead them through every pound and inch lost, and help them stay consistent with their workouts so they can “get results fast”. Our clients brag about how often they work out, how many calories they burned in a session, and how “good” they were on their diet. We high five them, and of course share every before and after picture on Instagram. We get so caught up in the #fitspo (fitness inspiration) of it all, that we don’t realize how much the fitness industry glorifies, or at the very least, normalizes disordered eating and exercise behaviors. The question remains, are we really helping our clients, or are we actually encouraging them to develop an eating disorder?