Archive for April, 2019

My Story of Chronic Illness and Eating Disorder Recovery

Sarah Churchward

**This is one person’s story. Everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, or symptom use. Please use your discretion and speak with your therapist when needed.

Sarah Noelle Churchward discovered her love for writing at the age of six when she wrote her first book, “The Castle” which found great success with her family and teachers but never gained wide-spread success. Sarah dove into another one of her passions at the age of 15 when she became a professional makeup artist in the state of Washington. She has worked with Macy’s fashion shows, The Snohomish Historical Society’s Annual Zombie Walk, and many other freelance organizations. Taking her career in a slightly different direction, Sarah launched her own line of cosmetics at the age of seventeen. That same year, she started her blog, Thought Outlet, discussing passionate topics across the board. In February of 2018, Sarah ran into health issues and is currently taking a hiatus from school and work, she hopes to resume those endeavors as soon as possible.

Body image is often a complicated issue during recovery, unhooking one’s self-worth from their size/shape/weight/ etc., is one of the hardest and most essential steps towards a happy and recovered life. Media portrayal of eating disorders often focuses on the desire to look a certain way, with an underlying message of vanity and shame conveyed loud and clear. This appearance-based way of looking at body image only tells one part of the story.

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Eating Disorders 101

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Eating disorders are real, complex illnesses that can cause serious harm. Eating disorders are characterized by a disturbance in an individual’s eating and food behaviors or self-perception. Common warning signs of eating disorders are extreme weight changes, altered eating behaviors, or an intense fixation on food and body talk. Eating disorders are biologically-based brain illnesses that are affected by environmental, social, and psychological factors. This means that illness is not caused by one specific factor, but rather by a series of factors in an individual’s unique life experience.

Types of Eating Disorders

Due to the complexity of eating disorders, the DSM-5 divides eating disorders into the following five categories:

Anorexia Nervosa. Anorexia is noted by extreme food restriction that causes dramatic and prolonged weight loss. It often presents with body dysmorphia and a genuine fear of food.

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). ARFID includes feeding or eating disorders that involve a lack of interest in or an avoidance of certain foods that result in a failure to meet nutritional needs. ARFID, unlike anorexia, does not include a drive for thinness.

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Why Should I go to The Emily Program Instead of Solely a Therapist, Dietitian or Physician?

Post-it notes with question mark

If you are struggling with disordered eating and looking into treatment options, it is common to schedule an appointment with a primary care physician, dietitian or therapist. While making an appointment with one of these professionals is a great place to start eating disorder treatment, it’s best to receive continued treatment at an eating disorder specialty center. Eating disorder centers like The Emily Program are able to offer a level of specialty care that other healthcare providers are often unable to offer. Due to the extensive knowledge of the illnesses and high-quality treatment, eating disorder centers can often facilitate lasting recovery at a higher rate. Programs like The Emily Program achieve success by offering expert staff, specialized facilities, tailored treatment, and ongoing care.

Expert Staff

The Emily Program’s multidisciplinary teams of eating disorder experts, including dietitians, therapists, and doctors,  are able to provide quality, well-rounded care to treat every aspect of an eating disorder. Our teams integrate nutritional, psychiatric, medical, and therapeutic expertise to provide exceptional eating disorder care with a focus on collaboration among staff, clients, and families. Staff at The Emily Program undergo ongoing eating disorder training, ensuring that they stay up-to-date on the latest research and treatment options.

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Episode 7: Kristine’s Recovery Story

Kristine Irwin and Family

Episode 7: Kristine’s Recovery Story

Episode description:

(TW: Rape). Peace Meal’s Recovery Series aims to share stories of those in eating disorder recovery in hopes of starting conversations, breaking stigmas, and encouraging healing. Kristine Irwin is a mother, advocate, and a survivor of rape and bulimia. It has been 14 years since her rape and she has been free of bulimia for 11 years. Kristine has taken time to heal and grow, which lead her to write the book Voices of Hope and start an organization against sexual assault called Voices of Hope.

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