As part of National Nutrition Month, we also celebrate Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day. This is a time to increase awareness of our registered dietitian nutritionists as the indispensable providers of food and nutrition services. At Magnolia Creek, we thank our registered dietitians, Leigh-Ann Bamberg and Brittany Braswell, for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives.
Leigh-Ann Bamberg MS, RDN, LD
As a Registered Dietitian specializing in the areas of mental health, and more specifically eating disorders, I have had the privilege for several years now of helping clients with severe eating disorders and disordered eating, heal their relationship with food and their body. This is an intense process that requires a multi-disciplinary approach. In the realm of nutrition, my personal favorite topics to educate clients on during my weekly nutrition groups are Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size. Both modalities are vital to normalizing a client’s eating behaviors as well as their overall toleration (and hopefully eventually acceptance) of their body.
Having recovered from anorexia nervosa myself, I know first-hand how it can feel terrifying, yet freeing when beginning to incorporate the principles of Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size. The eating disorder mindset is very “black and white,” meaning things are often seen as good or bad. There is typically no in-between and rarely any “gray thinking.” My job is to help client’s transition from black and white thinking to “living in the gray” as I call it…i.e. shifting from good and bad foods to accepting any and all foods as fuel, going from body hatred to body toleration to body acceptance, or transitioning from excessive/compulsive exercise to moving for the joy of it versus the calorie burn. These shifts and transitions require intense work with the help of a multi-disciplinary treatment team and can often take years to accomplish.
Because we live in what I like to call a “diet culture,” thoughts and behaviors that are often seen as “normal” are actually disordered and can lead to the development of an eating disorder (example-the “clean eating” trend – orthorexia). I often say to my clients who are trying to make sense of their eating disorder thoughts and behaviors that if you were to take ten people off the street, I can guarantee that at least eight of them would engage in some type of disordered behavior. Again, it is the culture that we live in that normalizes disordered eating. It is never the fault of the client. Incorporating the ten principles of Intuitive Eating one by one can allow you to begin decreasing any disordered thoughts/patterns/behaviors that you have around food and can help you to create a more positive and wholesome approach to eating and overall health. This is the end goal for each and every client that I have the privilege of working with.
I have had the honor of working in the mental health field for approximately five years now and can say without a doubt that there is no other field I’d rather spend my days working in. I get more joy and fulfillment out of counseling and helping my clients than I ever thought could be possible. Even on the difficult days when my clients are struggling, I feel so lucky and fortunate to be doing this work. To be able to be a small part of someone’s recovery is invaluable and something that I do not take lightly. Being a part of the Magnolia Creek Team and being able to have the opportunity to change lives and to possibly be an answered prayer to someone each day is the reason that I do what I do.
Brittany Braswell, MS, RDN, LD
To me, being a dietitian in the realm of mental health and eating disorders is an absolute answer to prayer. I can work with my clients to promote behavior and thought changes that lead to a significantly improved quality of life. One of the things I love most about nutrition and dietetics is that everyone must eat to live and function well, so nutrition is applicable to absolutely everybody! In this practice area specifically, I love that I get to help people find freedom in such a way as to not simply eat to love, but to allow themselves to enjoy what they put into their bodies and move from simply surviving to THRIVING.
One of the reasons I am so passionate about working with clients with eating disorders and disordered eating is that I love getting to know the whole person, not just a diagnosis. I have a chance to get to know my clients well, which helps me to provide better counseling, both nutritionally and therapeutically. I believe this affords me the greatest opportunity to make a lasting positive impact on my clients’ lives and their recovery.
My approach with clients is to get to know them on a personal level, understand what is important to them and how I can help them see how it can relate to their nutritional and physiological health and recovery. I want to help them see that all foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle and be enjoyed. Something that is also really important to me personally as I provide nutrition therapy is also to reach my clients on a spiritual level. I have a strong belief that my faith and trust in the Lord helps me to have a greater level of discernment with my clients so that I can better meet them where they are. It also helps me to connect to many of them on a deeper level and allows me an opportunity to minister to each one in various ways.
In short, being a dietitian means a lot to me. Because I am passionate about people, education, and making a lasting positive impact on the lives of others, I believe that eating disorder treatment is where I am called to serve.
Magnolia Creek Offers Hope
If you or your loved one are struggling with an eating disorder, Magnolia Creek can help. We provide a serene, healing environment for women who are struggling with eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. For more information, call our admissions team at 866-318-2329 or complete our contact form.