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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask how you can become a contributor!
For those living with an eating disorder, the holidays may be the toughest time of the year. Holidays are often synonymous with large amounts of food, increased stress, and extended periods of time with family—all factors that can exacerbate eating disorder symptoms. Because eating disorder thoughts and behaviors can increase during the holidays, it’s important to be especially vigilant of your patients this time of year.
There are many common signs and symptoms healthcare providers should look for that signal the presence of an eating disorder. During the holidays, certain symptoms may become more noticeable, such as:
Katie Gantt, MHS, RD, LDN, RYT, is a registered dietitian who has been working in the field of eating disorders and disordered eating for over five years. Katie is passionate about helping moms have a healthy pregnancy and postpartum period by finding health without dieting and challenging disordered eating patterns. She is the owner of Kathryn Gantt Nutrition where she uses her clinical expertise and yoga training to help moms reconnect with their bodies and their relationship to food in a positive, trauma-informed style. Katie focuses on mindful and intuitive eating, Health At Every Size (HAES), and non-diet approaches when counseling clients and helping parents raise intuitive eaters.
Hello! My name is Lacey Fischer, I am a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at the Anna Westin House in St. Paul, Minnesota.
I’ve been a nurse since 2004 and previously worked in a clinical family practice in a small rural town alongside one of the area’s busiest and most well-known providers until his retirement. (Fun fact: the doctor I worked with delivered me when I was born! I always joked, “Well, somebody had to grow up and be your boss!” He loved telling that story as much as I did. We are still good friends to this day.)
Kezia Reeder is a former Emily Program client and staff member, as well as a continual advocate for eating disorder recovery. In this episode of Peace Meal, she joins host Dr. Jillian Lampert to describe her holidays with an eating disorder. Kezia’s insight is valuable not just for those currently struggling, but also for parents and others supporting loved ones who are.
For those who celebrate, the holidays can be a hard time for individuals with eating disorders. Not only do Western holidays often center on food, but they also often bring stressors related to seeing people for the first time in a while. This year, as collective anxiety surrounding COVID-19, vaccinations, and variants lingers, the holidays may be especially challenging. Reflecting on holidays past with an eating disorder, our guest Kezia says she struggled at first without any outside support. She hid her disorder from family and friends, suffering in silence amid food- and body-related conversations and a lack of routine around meals. During her recovery, Kezia explains that she used trial and error to navigate the holidays successfully. The more present she was in treatment, she says, the more present she could be outside of it. With the help of her treatment team, she learned how to enlist family support—a key element to her recovery—develop a meal plan, and approach holiday food as just food.
For people with eating disorders, the holidays—the eating, the socializing, the changes in routine—are often an annual stressor.
No matter what your holiday plans may be this year, supporting your teenager with an eating disorder can be a meaningful part of them. Consider these suggestions to help your teenager navigate the holidays ahead in recovery.
**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
Megan Bazzini is a writer—an aspiring YA novelist, cringe-worthy poet, and mental health essayist. She’s also a business school grad, who has lived in LA, Hong Kong, and Milan. Now she’s returned home to New York, where she is a proud chihuahua rescue mom and corporate strategist at a major financial services institution. Megan’s eating disorder recovery mantra is, “Keep going. Recovery is worth it.” You can follow her on Twitter (@BazziniBooks) or visit her portfolio.
Recovery is non-stop work. I’m not here to sugarcoat that. You can read my other essays celebrating how rewarding it is, but today I’m here to give you a pep talk. You can do this.
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