RED-S and Eating Disorders

RED-S (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport) is a serious condition for athletes, especially runners, and often accompanies eating disorder behaviors. It falls into the category of a metabolic injury. Dr. Riley Nickols is interviewed in this article for Runner’s World and says, “It can be hard to identify an eating disorder when you’re in the middle of it,” says Riley Nickols, PhD “And sometimes a disordered mindset around food, training, or body image can be normalized in the context of sport,” making it even tougher.

“Sports providers can be very well-meaning but misguided,” says Nickols. “They have good intentions but sometimes veer outside their lane of expertise.” For example, an athlete’s goal weight should be only be set by a provider (e.g., physician or dietitian) with formalized education, training, and experience establishing appropriate goal weights.

A multidisciplinary treatment team, with expertise treating athletes and eating disorders, is critical for athletes to receive comprehensive care needed to address the multifaceted and persistent nature of an eating disorder. “You should have a sports dietitian and psychologist with eating-disorder expertise on hand, much like you have a physical therapist on call,” Nickols says. “Don’t underestimate the complexity of the problem and overestimate your ability to solve it on your own.”

Trying to find a counselor who understands the unique mental, physical, and emotional needs of an athlete? The sport psychologists at Mind Body Endurance can help.