The role of communal dining rooms in eating disorder treatment

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Patients with eating disorders or refractory eating disorders who experience relapses and are resistant to healing should be offered alternative, newer treatment plans, such as the communal dining rooms offered by Blue Healthcare.

But what are they? Dr Marina Díaz Marsá, Director of the Mind Area, tells us that «communal dining rooms allow patients to be supported with eating rehabilitation. The goal is that, little by little, they learn healthy eating habits.»

The Blue Healthcare communal dining rooms are part of an integral treatment of these illnesses. They offer delicious menus made with natural, toxic-free products with the support of healthcare professionals who supervise each dish. «We not only want patients to eat, but also to learn to differentiate between healthier foods, eat at certain times and socialise with other patients,» says Dr Díaz Marsá. «It’s also about supporting them in a more humane and friendly way during their recovery process. We try to bond with patients and get to know them better,» says the doctor.

Many of these patients, who have been hospitalised and who have very developed illnesses, even bordering on chronicity, have seen remarkable improvements since they came to our communal dining rooms.

At first, when patients sit down in front of the food they feel weird and out of place; some stare at the dish without saying anything, others play with their food, chopping it up, turning it over, even trying to hide it, but there are always healthcare professionals in the dining room who monitor the process. Then, gradually, they establish a relationship with the therapeutic group, begin to understand what’s happening and relax and improve every day. «The experience is very positive, we have had cases of spectacular recoveries, some patients even ask us for photocopies of the menus so they can follow them on their own at home. We try to get rid of preconceived ideas about food and teach them that eating well and healthily doesn’t mean gaining weight. We try to help patients overcome their fear of the scales and understand that acquiring healthy eating habits will keep them healthy and full of energy,» Dr Díaz Marsá adds.

We cannot forget that around 400,000 people, mostly young people, suffer from an eating disorder in Spain. The female population suffers to a greater extent – 90% – and between the ages of 12 and 24. Many of the patients with eating disorders have other psychiatric pathologies, such as personality disorders, depression, anxiety and substance abuse, among others. Also, one in four sufferers show resistance to treatments and almost 60% have a tendency to relapse. This is why having a comprehensive and personalised approach is so important, as are initiatives such as the communal dining rooms offered by Blue Healthcare.

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