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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!

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.

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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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