It is clear that there is an association between the participation in sports and disordered eating. Athletes taking part in sports that accentuate a low body mass or leanness have an even higher risk of developing problems with eating and body weight. It can sometimes be difficult to recognise that a problem exists as the person may be acting in a way which may be seen as normal or rational within a given sport; for example, restricting to achieve a certain weight category for competition. However, even more restrictive, prolonged, and medically dangerous behaviours may be triggered.
For an athlete, training and/or competing, coupled with an inadequate dietary intake, carries great risks to health. The female athlete triad represents a particular association that exists between disordered eating, amenorrhea (loss of periods), and osteoporosis. This is where physically active females consume an insufficient amount of energy, which then results in a loss of body fat, and a subsequent loss of menstruation and bone mineral density. The risk of stress fractures is increased, and this can have serious consequences to an athlete’s career.
Management of an eating disorder requires consideration from a physiological, psychological and behavioural perspective. At Insighteating, we can offer treatment packages that include both a psychologist and a dietitian, with experience of working with athletes with disordered eating from various forms of sport, including dancing, golf, gymnastics, horse racing, and running. Some of the clubs we have worked with are the Northern Ballet School, the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, and UK Athletics (UKA).
We work with the athlete to understand their particular sport, what metabolic pathways are at play, their optimal body composition to achieve their best performance, and their optimum diet to achieve these goals. It is important to understand the relationship between nutrition for health, and also nutrition for performance. Individualised nutritional strategies will be agreed for before, during, and after training and competition.