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There’s Help. There’s Hope! The Emily Program is a warm and welcoming place where individuals and their families can find comprehensive treatment for eating disorders and related issues. This blog is a place for us to share the latest happenings at The Emily Program, as well as helpful tidbits from the broader eating disorder community. Subscribe via RSS to receive automatic updates.We want to hear your story. Email us and ask how you can become a contributor!

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

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

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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