Archive for August 1, 2019

Staff Spotlight, Caitlin Urdiales

TEP: Tell us about yourself!

Caitlin:  I started working at the Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders in 2012 as an Eating Disorder Technician in the Adult Standard Program (ASPM). We (the CCED) became a part of The Emily Program in 2014 and I continued working within the program where I completed my internship from 2015-2016 as a counselor trainee. I became the program assistant in early 2017 after graduating with my Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.  I’m excited to be transitioning roles later this year with the addition of a new ASPM program here at Cleveland outpatient, where I will be the program coordinator.  You can most often find me running groups and facilitating therapeutic meals with clients within the current ASAM program.

Outside of work, I’m learning how difficult it is to be a homeowner.  However, I am becoming increasingly good at fixing and decorating with a few YouTube videos and several trips to the hardware store!  I have a cat, Dahlia, and an ever-growing collection of house plants at home.  Aside from that, I started a monthly book club about a year ago that is still going strong, I spend a lot of time dog sitting, and I love live music and going to shows.  I would not have the job I have or live in the city I live in if I didn’t want to be closer to the venues I grew up going to as a teenager and continue to go to today.

Read more

Fostering Open, Judgment-Free Communication with Patients about Eating Disorders

As a medical provider, you may be the first person to recognize that a patient has an eating disorder. That’s because eating disorder behaviors often occur in secret, and those struggling are typically very good at keeping their eating disorder a secret from the people in their lives.

Eating disorders are often apparent in a medical setting because we check weight, assess vital signs, and spend time discussing physical symptoms with patients. Signs of eating disorders that could be recognized even in a routine check-up may include dramatic changes in weight, menstrual irregularity, dizziness, dry skin, leg cramps, hair loss, and bruising. If you’re lucky, your patient may view an appointment as a natural time to share that they are experiencing eating disorder thoughts and behaviors. However, many patients are not forthcoming and the medical system is very poorly designed to talk to people about food and body issues.

Usually, the first thing that happens when a patient walks into a provider’s office is that they are asked to step on the scale. Patients are usually told their weight or it is written on a piece of paper.  After that, patients are taken into an office and asked several questions about medications, habits and health concerns. The patient may see one or two providers before seeing their primary medical provider.

Read more

Throw Away the Scale

Woman standing on scale

**Content warning: the beginning of this blog explains the history of scales and their association with glorified weight loss. To skip over this information, scroll to the subtopic, “Why Scales don’t Measure Actual Health.”

In American culture, scales are often a household staple. They are in bathrooms, gym locker rooms, medical offices, and more. While at times, scales can be important for medical monitoring or developmental growth assessments, they are often unnecessary to have in homes. For those with eating disorders, an easily accessible scale can fuel the disorder, lead to obsession, and spark dangerous behaviors like bingeing, purging, or restricting food intake.

The History of the Scale

While scales were invented hundreds of years ago to measure goods, the “bathroom scale” or the scale used to weigh humans wasn’t developed until the late 18th century. Scales became popularized in the 1920s when they were widely produced and served as an innovative novelty positioned on public streets. As individuals stopped paying to weigh themselves and the industry lost profits, companies began to make improvements in scale technology—ultimately creating the household scale.

Initial Uses of the Scale

The household scale became popularized in the early-mid 1900s at the same time that dieting as a means to weight loss became commercialized. This led the household scale to be used as a tracker of “health,” or so medical professionals thought at the time. This assumption then led to the glorification of thin bodies in the media, Hollywood, and magazines.

The idolization of thin bodies as healthy led individuals to pursue this new ideal. Oftentimes, the progression went like this: an individual saw the image of a thin figure on a magazine or read in the newspaper about the positive effects of dieting for weight loss, they then decided to go on a diet, in order to monitor the progress of the diet, they had to buy a scale. Once the individuals purchased the scale, they were able to weigh themselves daily to monitor the progress of their diet. These actions and this belief system contributed to disordered eating throughout the United States.

Read more

The Emily Program Logo