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!
Aronson Kagiliery joins Peace Meal to share her family’s journey of finding the right eating disorder treatment for her teenage daughter with anorexia. After exploring local options, she shares, her family ultimately traveled to pursue care at Veritas Collaborative. Most helpful to Aronson’s experience at Veritas were parent programming and weekend sessions, which affirmed that her daughter’s eating disorder was not her fault. She then offers insight on prioritizing treatment above a child’s other commitments, as well as providing support outside of treatment by refusing to let the eating disorder rule.
Reflecting on her daughter’s treatment and recovery, Aronson reflects on the importance of self-care and attending to her own needs—something she wishes she had done more. She describes what gradual healing looked like for her daughter, including the signs she knew her daughter was getting better. In a particularly touching moment, Aronson recalls her daughter sharing that she has days where she doesn’t think once about her eating disorder, a reality they never imagined was possible. To close, Aronson graciously shares words of wisdom for other parents supporting a child with one of these illnesses.
**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.”
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.
In this episode of Peace Meal, Holly Thorssen recounts her experience of mothering her daughter Madison through an eating disorder. Holly walks us through the course of Madison’s illness, noting the warning signs of Madison’s struggles with food and body, and sharing the family’s efforts to find a suitable treatment provider. Holly acknowledges the importance of building a supportive, judgment-free space when discussing eating concerns with a child – a space where your child can feel safe enough to disclose their emotions and struggles without fear or shame. In a poignant moment of reflection, Holly speaks on how she learned to differentiate Madison’s voice from the voice of the eating disorder, leading to a better understanding of Madison’s conflicting desire to get better while also resisting change. Connecting with The Emily Program’s family-oriented specialty care made all the difference for Holly and Madison, offering much-needed comfort and healing for both mother and daughter.
Stacy Schilter Pisano joins Peace Meal to shed light on the signs, symptoms, and complexities of binge eating disorder (BED), dispelling the myth that it is merely a matter of willpower. She describes the unique challenges facing those with BED, including misunderstandings about the illness, cultural stigma and shame related to overeating, marginalization in healthcare settings, and societal weight bias, particularly for those with BED who live in larger bodies. In light of these challenges, Stacy emphasizes the vital importance of treatment tailored to those affected by binge eating.
Stacy then provides an overview of virtual CARE IOP, The Emily Program’s and Veritas Collaborative’s standalone program for those BED and OSFED with a pattern of binge eating. Informed by the expertise of eating disorder professionals and the lived experiences of previous clients struggling with binge eating, CARE IOP offers a supportive environment where individuals can connect with others who truly understand their unique intersectional experiences. Unlike mixed-diagnosis treatment settings that may leave them feeling isolated, CARE IOP provides tailored, comprehensive care that promotes safety and healing.
Val Schonberg joins Peace Meal to discuss eating disorders during menopause, an often-overlooked period of vulnerability for midlife individuals. She begins by explaining why this life stage carries an increased risk for disordered eating and eating disorders. Our cultural biases toward aging and weight are partially to blame, she says, which can lead providers to misdiagnose or completely miss disordered eating behaviors. To better serve midlife individuals during this vulnerable period, Val urges healthcare providers to re-evaluate their own beliefs about aging, weight, and menopause. She emphasizes that menopause is a natural phase of life and not a “disease” that must be “fixed,” as many problematic cultural messages suggest. Val ends the podcast by expressing her belief that everyone can recover – no matter their age – and that aging is a precious gift.
Val Schonberg is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition science from the University of Minnesota. She is Board Certified as a Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Certified Menopause Practitioner with the North American Menopause Society, and a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Val owns a private practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where she specializes in midlife health and menopause, recreational and professional sports nutrition, all types of eating disorders, and helping individuals break free from dieting and disordered eating.