Q&A with Whitney Trotter Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Director at Fairhaven Treatment Center for Eating Disorders
We sat down with Whitney Trotter, MS, RD, LDN, RN, BSN, to learn a bit more about her thoughts and philosophy on her role at Fairhaven Treatment Center. Read on to get to know her.
What is your passion?
My passion is helping people in their darkest hour to overcome their fears of recovery from symptoms of an eating disorder. Recovery means giving up those behaviors that exist to protect the person from feelings of sadness and hurt; but in the effort to keep negative feelings from surfacing, other useful qualities are hidden. Allowing self-defeating behaviors to step aside and allowing new behaviors that nourish us physically and emotionally the way we need them to today can be challenging. I want to help.
What are your hopes and dreams for the clients you serve at Fairhaven?
I hope that when a client leaves Fairhaven they know without a doubt how much our treatment team and staff truly care for them. I want to be part of creating an environment where clients are allowed to feel the safety and security, which is their birthright! I want them to know they matter to us. Recovery can be a long journey. Clients at Fairhaven have a home, a community, and a family. My dream is that our clients can discover new insights about who they are, be safe to feel all types of emotions, and find courage to embrace their recovery. It is my sincere wish that if asked to describe their experience about Fairhaven in one word, that word will be “Compassion”!
Can you speak about your nutrition treatment approach when working with someone with symptoms of an eating disorder?
Our nutrition team has coined the phrase “flexible exchange “system. This means that there is intentional structure in the meal plan, yet flexibility to listen to your body and take part in food choices. We want to take away the rigidity of recovery and replace with a shared, informed and intentional approach that is sustainable long after our clients leave Fairhaven. We truly value our clients and strive to meet them where they are while we restore them to nutritional health. We do that by providing guidance based on the exchange system but encourage balance, variety and mindful approaches to making peace with food.
How do you work and interact with the behavioral health therapists and the nursing team when caring for your clients?
The nutrition, behavioral and medical staff function as one team, an extension of each other. We have ongoing team meetings to view all aspects of recovery from a medical, nutritional and behavioral lens. The behavioral health therapists are on the frontlines helping our clients process emotional vs. physical hunger cues and do an excellent job of encouraging safety around meals. The nursing and nutrition department work together, identifying barriers to weight restoration, initiating refeeding protocols, managing and responding to lab reports and identifying any medication and nutrient interactions. The community of 12 clients in a homelike setting both allows for and encourages frequent communications and easy access to each of my team members.
What should one know about Fairhaven’s nutrition program that could encourage asking for help with nutrition needs?
They should know that our primary goal is their safety and nutritional adequacy. We try our best to meet each client where they are and will include each client as much as we can in the development of their meal plan. There is no “one size fits all” approach at Fairhaven. Each client is unique, and we strive to honor and serve that uniqueness. We want our clients to aspire to intuitively eat in their recovery journey – but we don’t start there. We start with really getting to know our clients and their relationship with food. We strive for safety first and stabilize the food intake process as quickly as possible. Next, we work with both food and emotion to create a sustainable recovery platform. Finally, we prepare our clients for the next step toward more independence and healthy food choices as they progress to reclaiming the joy of food in their lives.
Whitney Trotter, MS, RD, LDN, RN, BSN is the Nutrition Director and Clinical Supervisor of Fairhaven Treatment Center near Memphis, TN. Whitney has over nine years of experience in working with adults and adolescents with symptoms of disordered eating. In addition to being a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Whitney is a Registered Nurse who specializes in Pediatrics. Whitney has over 10 years of experience with working with victims of trauma and sexual assault and helped establish Restore Corps — a Memphis-based, anti-trafficking non-profit.