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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!

Mealtime Tips

Chili soup

Eating disorders are complex illnesses that often lead to severe disturbances in thought patterns and behaviors. A key time when behaviors and thought patterns are illuminated is during meals. Those affected by eating disorders may dread or fear eating and experience anxiety, anger, and depression during mealtimes. 

What does Someone with an Eating Disorders Experience During Meals?

Individuals affected by eating disorders often cite mealtimes as a significant cause of distress. Since eating disorders typically accompany an intense preoccupation with food and body, they lead individuals into disordered eating patterns like restricting, bingeing, or purging. These patterns become solidified over time and become harder to challenge and break. In addition, those affected may experience significant distress over meals. Possible reactions and responses to meal times can include:

  • Anxiety, fear, or distress of the impending meal
  • Fear of the food served
  • Anxiety about eating, especially eating in public
  • Lack of appetite
  • Emotional disturbance 
  • Negative thought patterns like “I hate myself for eating this”
  • Unrealistic thought patterns such as “If I eat this I will become fat”
  • Activation of the body’s flight or fight response
  • Anger
  • Refusal to eat
  • Depression, anxiety, or experiencing an intense need to compensate after the meal is over

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Episode 16: What is Healthy Activity?

Group of people exercising outside

Episode description:

Exercise in eating disorder recovery is a hotly disputed topic. What type of activity is positive? When does activity become disordered? Is there a place for intense exercise in recovery? The Emily Program’s Director of Nutrition, Sheena Washburn, joins Peace Meal to answer these questions and more.

Episode show notes:

Sheena Washburn is the Director of Nutrition at The Emily Program, where she oversees nutrition and food services programming. Sheena is a former dance instructor and is passionate about helping those in recovery find food and body peace.

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Staff Spotlight, Kate Opichka

Kate Opichka

TEP: Tell us about yourself!

Kate: I am an outpatient dietitian and adolescent IOP program dietitian at The Emily Program’s Saint Louis Park location.  Outside of The Emily Program, I like to be outdoors: walking, biking, or being on the lake.  I also enjoy traveling, trying out new restaurants and new foods, and hanging out with my parents’ dog, Wookiee.

TEP: What is the best part of your job?

Kate: My favorite part of my job is being able to see people’s progress and reclaim values (and foods) the eating disorder has taken away.  I’m lucky enough to not only see my clients in IOP but to continue to work with some of them in an OP setting once they graduate from IOP.

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Disordered Eating vs. Eating Disorders: What’s the Tipping Point?

Male teen looking out of a window

Eating disorders are hard to spot, especially when disordered eating behaviors are extremely common. From the prevalence of dieting to the glorification of excessive exercise, it can be tricky to understand when disordered behaviors spiral into a full-blown eating disorder.

What is Disordered Eating?

Disordered eating includes unhealthy food and body behaviors, usually undertaken for the purpose of weight loss or health promotion, but that may put the person at risk for significant harm.  Disordered eating is serious and can lead to severe complications in one’s life, so it is important to stay vigilant of the warning signs and symptoms. Unfortunately, disordered eating is extremely common due to the normalization of many disordered behaviors in primarily Western cultures. Common examples of disordered eating include:

  • Fad diets
  • Cleanses
  • Heightened focus on appearance
  • Skipping meals
  • Supplement misuse
  • Diet pills
  • Extreme social media focused on appearance or food
  • Undereating or overeating

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