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!
**Content warning: This episode includes discussions around suicidal thinking and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Please use your discretion when listening and speak with your support system as needed. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are resources that can help. Contact the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by texting or calling 988.
In Episode 85 of Peace Meal, we heard from Holly Thorssen about her experience parenting her daughter Madison through an eating disorder. Today, we pass the microphone to Madison, who tells us her recovery story in her own words. Madison begins by recounting her life with an eating disorder. As is often the case, her illness was all-consuming, depleting her ability to be fully present, clouding her values and belief system, and offering a sense of false happiness. At age 12, Madison experienced a barrage of depressive symptoms, which she connects to the onset of her disordered eating. In the absence of healthy coping skills, Madison’s eating disorder numbed her inner pain and released the emotional pressure of her depression.
Entering treatment at The Emily Program marked a shift in Madison’s recovery resistance. She emphasizes the impact of a whole-person care model and shares several takeaways from treatment that have been helpful to her healing. Reflecting on the adversities of her mental health journey, Madison explains why she’s fired up about enacting policy change that supports compassionate, individualized, evidence-based care so that no one feels hopeless about their mental health. Says Madison, “There’s always hope.”
As a provider, you know that noticing changes in your patient’s behavior is crucial to providing proper care. Perhaps you’ve recently come across a patient who shows a lack of appetite or little interest in food. Maybe they’re restricting the amount or type of foods they eat, but it doesn’t appear tied to any body image concerns. Perhaps your patient has always been a picky eater and has not “outgrown” this behavior as they have aged. You might also have noticed physical symptoms like significant weight loss, slow growth or delayed puberty, or signs of malnutrition such as anemia or vitamin deficiencies.
These symptoms could be signs of an eating disorder called Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). While not as well known as other eating disorders, ARFID is just as serious and valid as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Each diagnosis requires its own unique treatment plan and ARFID is no different.
If you recognize the signs of ARFID and refer your patient to a specialty eating disorder treatment center like The Emily Program, you may be wondering what happens next. Gain some insight into ARFID and how it is treated at The Emily Program so you can continue to support your patients through their healing journey.
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Amy Allison (she/her), and I am a Behavioral Health Specialist-Float, splitting my time between The Emily Program’s Outpatient and Residential Treatment Centers in Cleveland, Ohio. I am a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), a Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant (CDCA), and a Registered Yoga Teacher 200 (RYT-200). I have been with The Emily Program since April 2023.
Social media is an inescapable part of our lives. It has an enormous impact on how we see ourselves, others, and the world around us.
Social platforms often shape and mirror trends in music, fitness, fashion, marketing, and more. Unfortunately, some of these trends can contribute to comparison culture, reinforcing unrealistic beauty standards and even encouraging disordered eating.
For individuals already vulnerable to eating disorders, navigating social media can present both risks and benefits.
Kathryn Garland and Vanessa Scaringi join Peace Meal to discuss the connection between attachment styles and the development and maintenance of eating disorders. They first provide an overview of attachment theory, exploring how this framework can help us better understand the impact of early attachment experiences on our relationships with food and ourselves. Insecure attachment styles, they explain, are associated with eating disorders and can manifest in disordered behaviors and thoughts. Kathryn and Vanessa share how therapists can help clients address attachment-related issues and nurture secure connections with family and friends that support recovery.
Kathryn and Vanessa also dive into the impact of the pandemic on our ability to connect with others, which in turn has played a role in exacerbating disordered eating behaviors. In addition, they explain how a relational approach to eating disorder care can complement other treatment modalities, including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). They end the episode by stressing the importance of connection to good mental health and encouraging those in recovery to take the time they need to nurture their relationships, both with others and themselves.
Mainstream ideas about nutrition are often rigid and heavily influenced by diet culture. Those with eating disorders often have thoughts and behaviors surrounding food that reflect the rigidity of diet culture.
In order to help our clients with eating disorders nurture a more flexible, balanced, and mindful relationship with food, The Emily Program provides nutrition experiences, education, counsel, and skills—all of which are guided by our “Can Eat” philosophy. But what does this philosophy entail?