Archive for July, 2019

Dear Eating Disorder…

Kelsa Wirth

*Trigger warning: please keep in mind that some recovery stories may mention eating disorder thoughts and behaviors. Please use your own discretion when reading and speak to your support system as needed.

*Kelsa Wirth was born and raised in a small town in Wisconsin. She is 24 and just graduated college. She plans to be a teacher and finds joy in the outdoors and spending time with family. Her eating disorder has affected her for over seven years. About two years ago, Kelsa decided to go to treatment at The Emily Program for help with her diagnosis of anorexia. She started residential treatment at the Anna Westin house in Saint Paul, where she received a warm welcome. While terrifying, she says treatment was the best decision of her life. Kelsa transitioned to Intensive Day Programming at The Emily Program following her residential stay. She had a wonderful experience in treatment and believes her team was amazing. Following residential and intensive day programming, Kelsa moved home and resumed her normal life. Unfortunately, after a year, her eating disorder became strong again. She experienced bulimia and shortly after decided to return to treatment at The Emily Program, where she found her true self. Currently, Kelsa is in treatment and back on the road to recovery. She chose to contribute this blog to help those battling an eating disorder and to encourage them to break up with their eating disorders. Kelsa’s advice to anyone struggling is to accept what their eating disorder has done and to be willing to make changes in the future. She believes everyone is worthy of recovery and she hopes that people can remember that.

Dear Eating Disorder,

I have always thought that goodbyes were hard but this one is second to the hardest goodbye I have ever dealt with in my 24 years of living. You have been in my life for over 7 years now and because of that, I have become attached to you; it scares me to even try to imagine living my life without you.

In the past seven years, I have created a new me, someone that isn’t what the typical Kelsa would be. Through these experiences, I have realized that you have truly changed my life in so many ways. I am writing you a letter to simply say goodbye because my healthy authentic Kelsa is becoming more present every day and I want to continue to grow as a person and become free of having you to take over and control me.

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Self-Care in the Summer

Three teens jumping

With the warm weather and summer activities, it can be easy to forget to take time to yourself over the summer. The Emily Program knows how essential taking time to care for yourself during recovery is, so we reached out to our community and staff to see how they practice self-care. If you aren’t sure where to start, try using one of their ideas!

“To practice self-care I force myself to lay down, even when and if my eating disorder tells me that I’m lazy, and I watch my favorite show—Grey’s Anatomy!” – Kara

“My favorite way to practice self-care in the summer is to lay in my hammock and read a good book in the evening, while the world is settling in for another night. Of course, I need plenty of bug spray!” – Maggie Meyers

“I make a glass of tea and I take a nap on bad days.” – C. F.

“I offer clients this handout to read. I also remind them that ‘self-care’ is not always bubble baths and pedicures, but it’s also nourishing the body, adequate sleep, therapy, etc.!” –Abbie Scott

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The How-To Guide for Starting your Child in Eating Disorder Treatment

Mom and daughter on cliff

When your child struggles with an eating disorder, it can be a time of fear, frustration, heartache, and confusion. From navigating treatment options to learning how to support your child’s recovery, it can be a complex and challenging time. The Emily Program knows this. Since 1993, we have worked with families and friends to help them support loved ones suffering from eating disorders. 

What is Eating Disorder Treatment?

Eating disorder treatment is specialized care that addresses all facets underlying an individual’s eating disorder along with their current behaviors. Eating disorders are treated most effectively at a specialty treatment center that provides multidisciplinary support. At The Emily Program, intensive care involves a medical professional, therapist, and dietitian. These professionals comprise an individual’s eating disorder treatment team, ensuring that their eating disorder is holistically addressed and that recovery begins with a solid foundation. At The Emily Program, treatment teams provide multidisciplinary, integrative support for individuals of all identities struggling with food and body issues. Treatment may look different for every client and can vary based on the level of care recommended for the individual.

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Episode 13: Sarah’s Recovery Story

Girl overlooking a lake

Episode description:

Peace Meal’s Recovery Stories series features voices of individuals in eating disorder recovery and beyond. This episode features Sarah Churchward, a professional writer and makeup artist. In her late teens, Sarah was diagnosed with both anorexia and chronic narcolepsy. She discusses the process of coming to accept her chronic illness while being in eating disorder treatment and how that process made her into who she is today.

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Part 1: How Culture can Influence Eating, Eating Disorders, and Recovery

Indian Food and Gathering

Bhakti Doroodian is an independently licensed marriage and family therapist who currently works for The Emily Program as a Clinical Manager and DBT Therapist.  Her background includes treating individuals, couples, and families with a wide variety of mental health and family dynamic concerns.  Her passion for eating disorders surfaced as she noticed the detrimental effects of it on not just the individual, but on the family system as a whole.  She hopes to continue educating clients on the importance of health, wellness, and body acceptance in all forms.   

Food equals love.  This was a concept I learned early on when my grandmother would secretly give me all of my favorite treats before dinner.  When I would fall sick, my mother would make me eat bitter melon for dinner followed by a tall glass of ginger-turmeric milk to nurse me back to health.  After my grandparents passed away, friends and distant relatives brought my family many of our favorite dishes to comfort and support us through a painful time in our lives.  Although I was born and raised in California, my relationship with food was largely influenced by my South Asian roots.  Every summer, my sister and I would pack up our most precious belongings, and head to India to spend our break with aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins.  While our cousins would fantasize about a life in the United States with the education opportunities, fast cars, and fashion models, my sister and I relished in the simplicity of living in India, even if it was only for a few short months.  

Every day, hand-in-hand, my grandmother and I would walk to the market to see what produce was available for that day’s dinner.  There was no refrigerator, pantry, or grocery store where we could store the essentials.  Instead, our variety was 100% dependent upon what was in season or available that day and whether or not we could afford the farmers’ ever-changing price for produce.  Options were limited so rarely did we choose our meals based on our mood or cravings. Rather, the focus was on counting our blessings and eating nutrient-dense meals to have energy for the day’s work.

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Why Healthy Looks Different on Everyone

Three women on the beach

Health is often described as having a sound mind, body, and spirit. However, society is quick to latch onto the physical aspect of health and question what physical health truly means. Is health subjective? Can people be healthy at different weights? Is everyone’s ideal health different? The answer to all of these questions is yes!

Why do body sizes differ?

We know that body sizes are not all the same and that every single human being looks unique. Body size and structure is determined and influenced by a variety of forces, which is why all individuals look different. Genetics play an obvious role in physical appearance, as an individual’s gene pool influences bone structure, predispositions, and more. For example, if a child has two extremely tall parents, it’s likely that the child will be tall as well.

In addition to genetics, factors like nutrition, society, and autoimmune functioning can influence body size and shape. Nutrient deprivation in growing children can result in stunted growth, weakened bones, and physical changes. Society can often influence body shape as well—typically, what is culturally ideal has an impact on how individuals strive to look, which unfortunately, can be problematic. Lastly, certain autoimmune diseases and other health conditions can affect the appearance of the body. Some illnesses come with physical or appearance-based symptoms, which can alter body size and shape.

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