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 (email@example.com) and ask how you can become a contributor!
**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.
Ally Rae Pesta is a yoga teacher, run coach, eating disorder recovery coach, speaker, and published author. She’s been in recovery for ten years. Her passion is to empower individuals to find purpose beyond their body and reclaim their relationship with their body, movement, and food. Her memoir, Beyond My Body: Recovering From a Complex Eating Disorder, Reclaiming Movement, and Finding My Worth, launched on World Mental Health Day, October 10th. Visit her website allyrae.co to learn more or buy her book here.
Why did you write Beyond My Body?
I have always loved to write. Since I was five years old, I dreamed of writing a book one day. Fast forward to 17 years old, lying in a hospital bed, where I wrote in my recovery journal that one day I would write a book about this. Although it took me ten years to finally write and publish my book, my truest why still remains—write it for my 17-year-old self who wanted so badly to feel seen, heard, and understood.
Your child starts exhibiting the signs of an eating disorder. You contact an eating disorder treatment center for help and receive a level of care recommendation that fits their needs. But you are unsure whether treatment is the right choice for your child at the moment. After all, they’ve made commitments to various groups, clubs, and sports—all activities that seem to be really good for them.
Understandably, you don’t want them to miss out on the extracurriculars they love. Maybe treatment can wait until the season ends, you think. Perhaps after the last game, band concert, dance recital, robotics competition, etc. If you take them out of the play, the soccer season, their choir group, you might wonder, how will they manage? The activity seems to be the only thing they engage in, the only thing that brings them joy—what if this makes things worse?
It’s understandable to have concerns about interrupting these activities. However, recovery can benefit not only your child’s overall health but also their ability to fully enjoy and excel in their extracurricular pursuits.
**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.