Archive for June, 2019

Making Sure that “All Foods Fit” Includes all Foods

Plates of various foods

One common symptom of an eating disorder is the perceived need to eliminate or restrict certain foods. Extreme restriction of certain foods may indicate the presence of a disorder such as Anorexia Nervosa or Orthorexia. Restricted food groups often include processed foods, fast foods, or foods that are higher in sugar and fats (snack items, sweets, and desserts).

Alternatively, someone struggling with Compulsive Overeating or Binge Eating Disorder might alternate between periods of severe overconsumption and total restriction. It is important that intensive work is done in treatment to normalize both one’s attitudes toward and intake of such foods when working to reintroduce that person to the variety, novelty, and pleasure of eating.

The term “all foods fit” is often used to emphasize that there are no “good” foods or “bad” foods. The idea that no food has a moral value is an important concept in removing judgments and distortions that often form in disordered eating beliefs and practices. 

Unfortunately, it is also common for foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to become associated with eating disorder patterns. For example, a client once said “Focusing on eating vegetables was something I did when I was restricting or I started focusing on clean eating. If I was having salads, it meant I was dieting, denying, or punishing myself.”  In a situation where food is restricted, working on accepting and practicing the idea that all food has a place in a healthy diet is essential. By re-incorporating all of the vital components of a balanced diet, individuals can develop an eating pattern free of eating disorder behaviors.

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Staff Spotlight, Christina Grieve

Christina Grieve

TEP: Tell us about yourself!
Christina: I’m the Seattle adult standard/standalone intensive outpatient dietitian. Food is a huge part of both my professional and personal life—outside of work, I spend a lot of time enjoying the eclectic Seattle restaurant scene and experimenting in the kitchen. I also enjoy things all things yoga, books, cats, exploration, and relaxation.

TEP: What is your favorite part about being an Emily Program dietitian?
Christina: There are so many things I love about my job, especially digging deep in individual sessions and during meals (where the magic happens)! Most of all, I appreciate the many opportunities to witness those beautiful moments of growth—a client reclaiming a food, tuning into their true needs, gaining clarity, cultivating agency… the list goes on!

TEP: What is a common nutrition myth that you would like to correct?
Christina: The myth that there is such a thing as a “healthy” or an “unhealthy” food. Foods may contain different nutrients, but they can all nourish different aspects of our health and well-being. One food does not hold the power to change your health.

TEP: What is one thing you wish everyone knew about eating disorder treatment?
Christina: Not all people who need treatment fit a stereotype. People of all shapes, sizes, colors, backgrounds, and gender identities can struggle with eating disorders, and all are deserving of help and support. Because of this, treatment goals are different for each individual.

TEP: Do you have any advice for clients in recovery?
Christina: Recovery is not on a timeline, so try to extend patience to yourself or those around you who are in treatment. Eating disorders are not simple conditions and do not have a simple solution. And try to build in self-care time where you can. Treatment is a lot of work and having downtime is essential!

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Why do we Compare Ourselves to Others?

Boy looking at reflection

Teacher and inspirational speaker Iyanla Vanzant once said, “Comparison is an act of violence against the self.” If that’s true, why do we do it?

Comparison is in our Human Nature

In 1954, social psychologist Leon Festinger coined the term social comparison theory. At the core of his theory was the thought that people compare themselves to others so that they can learn about themselves or learn how to act in a socially acceptable way. Comparison, in some circumstances, can keep us safe or be a source of motivation.

For example, imagine an individual who enters a new culture. This person does not speak the language or understand the traditions. In order to find food, fit in, or become a part of the community, the individual may compare others’ behaviors with their own to determine whether they are doing what is necessary to adapt successfully to their new environment.  In this example, comparison helps an individual survive.

The social comparison theory also states that humans compare themselves to others to get an accurate gauge on their abilities, to process situations, and to understand themselves. If a high school student wants to get into Harvard, they will likely compare their grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities to those of students who were accepted into the university in the past. These comparisons arm the student with knowledge of how to get into the university and may assist the student in making smart choices in high school. Additionally, if the student finds out that they do not stack up to admitted students’ academic achievements, it could help them to set a realistic expectation and to avoid future disappointment.

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The Road to Living, Not Just Surviving

Caitlin Ward

**Some guest stories may contain eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, or symptoms. Please use your own discretion and speak with your therapist or support system as needed.

Caitlin Ward is a freshman at Bucknell University. She loves spending time with her family and friends who are there for her during every step of recovery. When she’s not busy with homework, Caitlin enjoys spending time with her dog and watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Perfection. Most people believe that being perfect is not realistic. That’s not me. I always thought I could be perfect. I was supposed to be the shining star of the family or the friend group, of everywhere I went. I tried my hardest at being perfect. I studied endlessly to get perfect grades. I always woke up early to put on makeup, put on a cute outfit, and do my hair even if I was up late doing my homework. It didn’t matter, I had to look like I was okay all the time, even if I cried myself to sleep because of my anxiety. The desire for perfection has always been a part of my life since I can remember. However, nothing I ever did made me “perfect” enough. I was thin. I was pretty. I was smart. I wasn’t thin enough. I wasn’t thin enough. I wasn’t smart enough. I felt like I lost control over my need to be perfect. I needed to regain control to become perfect.

So, I turned to food and exercise. I thought, you know what could make me more perfect, be the healthy one. Be the skinniest. Eat the least. Workout the most. So, I did. Most people would not be able to live this way. But, with everything I do I have such a high level of motivation to complete it with perfection. Restricting my diet really was not that difficult for me. Sure, I was hungry. I was tired. I missed out on a lot of social events. But, was I achieving “perfection?” No. I never achieved perfection. So, everything I did concerning food/weight/exercised needed to be controlled even more to make me more perfect. I would continuously cut down on calories and exercise more.

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