Its crucial, not helpful, to know some physiology. Glenn Waller writes in CBT Today Dec 2010 that we need to be able to give people "key information" about their eating disorder, the effects of starving and laxative abuse. Do you really get rid of everything when you purge? Are all calories the same? Is all fat wicked? Are carbs as dangerous as we are led to believe? What is the connection between your emotions and your eating habits? What are the secrets of what diet drinks do to your body? What does normal eating "look like?"
And what does dietary chaos do to your ability to control your weight? Can you turn your body into a fat-making machine just by drinking a lot of coffee? What is the role of the thyroid and does it matter? What is the chemistry of appetite? Does fullness predict weight gain? How can you manage a diabetic with an eating disorder?
How complex do you need to get to be sure that you know enough to be useful?
The eating disorder practitioner who practices constant CPD about the physiology of food, weight and appetite is the only practitioner doing their patient justice. You need to know a great deal across a wide range of rapidly changing fields, where even specialists have difficiulty keeping up with latest thinking.
Knowing the information is one thing. Knowing when and how to communicate relevant facts is something else. Using the information to help transform behaviour, some experimentation, some risk taking on the part of your clients, is the final must-do. Knowledge ONLY becomes power when it is felt in the muscle.
I have put up some useful information online to help your clients, such as on how much do you really need to eat and the effects of undereating. Visit http://www.eating-disorders.org.uk/information.html