Archive for August, 2019

How can Gyms and Coaches Recognize an Eating Disorder?

Student Athletes

Eating disorders are brain-based illnesses involving food and body that are severe and can become life-threatening. These illnesses typically involve food restriction or overconsumption, body image issues, and altered food behaviors like eating in secret or skipping meals. Eating disorders also frequently include compensatory behaviors like overexercising, which puts gym and coaches in a unique spot to catch eating disorders. In order for gyms and coaches to successfully recognize and address eating disorders, they must first be aware of their common signs and symptoms.

Eating Disorder Signs and Symptoms

Eating disorders are serious illnesses that affect eating habits and desires and cause severe distress about food, weight, size, and shape. Eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of their gender, race, age, or any other demographic categorization. The five types of eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, OSFED, and ARFID. Signs and symptoms of eating disorders that gyms and coaches may be able to spot include:

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Getting Ready to go Back to School with Confidence

Teen with school books

Getting ready to go back to school is a stressful time for everyone, but for those struggling with eating disorders, it can be anxiety-inducing, hectic, and overwhelming. From new schedules to managing meal plans in a new environment, the change from summer to school can pose new challenges. By planning, practicing, and getting support, those in eating disorder recovery can get back to school with confidence.

Back to School Planning

Being prepared for key situations at school can be extremely beneficial in eating disorder recovery. Situations that are helpful to plan for include snack breaks, lunch, dormitory meals, and stressful moments like tests or debates. For food-related moments during school, the most important thing for those in eating disorder recovery is to stick to their meal plan.

In elementary, middle, or high school, those in recovery can pack lunches that work for their meal plan or they can look at the lunch menu the day before to plan what they will eat the following day. Knowing what meals will come at school can alleviate stress and allow individuals to plan for their meals and stick to recovery. For those in college, dormitory food and eating food in a large cafeteria can be a source of stress. Before going to college, it may be helpful to think of what your meals will look like. Some colleges even allow non-students to eat at their dormitories and cafeterias–if your college offers this, it may be helpful to eat a meal there prior to the start of school.  That way, you can start school knowing what to expect.

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How Sobriety Influenced my Eating Disorder Recovery

Rachel Moe

*Please keep in mind this is one person’s story and that everyone’s path to recovery and beyond will be unique.

Rachel Moe is a Registered Nurse, Emily Program client, Aunt, coffee connoisseur, and writer who loves sharing her experience through recovery in hopes of connecting with and helping others. Rachel started and leads an Eating Disorders Anonymous meeting in Duluth, MN. She also recently started a blog and plans to dive more into recovery advocacy, as she is passionate about ending the stigma around mental illness. She loves to hike, spend time with her family and friends, write, and practice yoga.

I vividly remember the first time I was told by someone that I may be an alcoholic and I should consider a life of sobriety. It was a hot August day in the Twin Cities, I was 24 years old, and sitting in my therapist’s office in a residential treatment center for my eating disorder. I had already been struggling with Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa since the age of 13. My parents were on the couch across from me, tears in both of their eyes, and we were participating in family week at treatment. Now, this was not the first time someone had brought up my drinking and substance abuse to me, this was just the first time that I chose to truly listen to what was being said. I could no longer deny my life was falling apart as a result of alcohol, drugs, and my eating disorder.

The flood of emotions came immediately that day—sadness, shame, anger, grief. I mostly felt sad for my parents. I felt as though I had already inflicted enough pain through my eating disorder, how could I add another diagnosis to the list that has been growing for as long as I can remember? I felt angry that once again, I was different from my peers. In my group of friends, I was always the friend who was too anxious to go out for pizza or ice cream, so how could I also be the sober one as well?

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Episode 14: Eating Disorders Aren’t Just a Thin White Woman’s Disease

Woman sitting on bed with food

Episode description:

Eating disorders affect everyone. Unfortunately, one major eating disorder stereotype is that the illnesses only affect thin, white women, leaving men, nonbinary folx, and BIPOC on the outskirts of the conversation. To discuss this stereotype, the reality, and what we can do to work against the incorrect assumptions around eating disorders, we talk to Emily Program therapist Jamila Helstrom. 

Episode show notes:

Jamila Helstrom is a Pre-Independent Licensed Therapist at The Emily Program. She began working with adolescents and their families at the residential level of care and now works with adults in both outpatient and intensive day treatment settings. Her formal education is from the University of Saint Thomas, but her life experiences working with individuals in eating disorder recovery has taught her the most. Outside of work, she enjoys being a newlywed, listening to music, and speaking Spanish. Jamila joins this episode of Peace Meal to discusses eating disorder stereotypes, culture, and how to facilitate lasting recovery for all individuals.

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Staff Spotlight, Caitlin Urdiales

Caitlin Urdiales photo

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.

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

Man and doctor

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.

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