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Veritas Blog

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Through advocacy work, community and professional events, and media outreach, Veritas is helping to bring cutting-edge research, best-practice care, and scientifically backed information into the national eating disorder conversation. Here in our blog you can learn about the work we and others are doing to advance the understanding and treatment of eating disorders. You’ll also find interesting articles and helpful insights that can support you or a loved one on the journey to lasting recovery. We want to hear your story. Email us (blog@veritascollaborative.com) and ask how you can become a contributor!

December 7, 2023

The “most wonderful time of the year” is often anything but for those battling an eating disorder or working toward recovery. It should come as no surprise that the holiday season is frequently a time for relapse or exacerbation of eating disorder symptoms. After all, the much-beloved traditions and events this time of year are teeming with potential triggers. Increased exposure to fear foods, activities centered around eating, and extended time with family can magnify an individual’s struggles.

For a peek behind the curtain of these illnesses, consider a holiday meal at a relative’s home. Being immersed in a group setting can elicit tremendous pressure for those in recovery, particularly around the holidays when the expectation is to engage in the “normal” food and social activities of the season. Those in any stage of recovery may avoid holiday gatherings altogether out of the fear that every eye will be on them, silently (or not so silently) assessing their appearance, weight, and the contents of their plate. 

December 4, 2023

Episode description:

Taylor Humphrey joins us in this episode of Peace Meal to recount her eating disorder experience and unpack the lessons she learned in recovery. Taylor’s story begins over a decade ago, when her concerns about maintaining her high level of athleticism drove her to form an obsession with “perfect” eating. Connecting with effective, age-appropriate treatment proved a struggle for Taylor and her family. The program she attended in early adolescence lacked proper eating disorder education, which led Taylor to feel disconnected, unsupported, and reluctant in her recovery.

Taylor turned a corner between the ages of 16 and 18 upon connecting with new clinicians who expanded her perspective and made her feel seen and accepted. Today, confidently equipped with her toolbox of recovery skills, Taylor leverages the “gifts” of her struggles to provide direction to young people and their parents going through the treatment journey.

December 4, 2023

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Amy Laster (she/her). I am a Psychotherapist, LCMHC, as well as a Clinical Manager for Veritas Collaborative’s Triangle Outpatient Treatment Center in Durham, North Carolina. I have worked for Veritas for over four years. 

What does a typical day look like for you at Veritas Collaborative?

It’s hard to describe a “typical” day (which is what I love so much about this work!), but my days involve a combination of clinical supervisions, direct patient care, various consultation meetings, milieu management, group facilitation, programming and scheduling management, connections with providers in the community, outreach efforts, and more. 

November 30, 2023

Perhaps you’ve noticed some differences in your adult child’s behavior. These changes are mostly related to their eating and exercise habits, but extend to their general demeanor. 

Maybe they push their food around on their plate without eating much of it. 

Maybe they can’t seem to stop talking about their new diet and exercise regimen.  

Maybe they deliberately avoid family gatherings that involve food. 

Approaching your child about these behaviors may feel daunting. You might worry about upsetting them or creating distance in your relationship. While you understand that they are now in charge of their own health decisions, you are deeply concerned about their well-being. The situation is undeniably distressing. Though you cannot force your adult child into seeking help, your support, empathy, and guidance can empower them to take that crucial next step. 

Read on to learn some helpful tips on initiating a conversation about eating disorder treatment with your adult child. 

November 14, 2023

Discharging from treatment is a significant milestone—a testament to your eating disorder patient’s hard work and progress in recovery. While this is often a cause for celebration, there is still more healing to do. Providers like you play a key part in guiding these patients toward long-lasting freedom and stability.

As your patient continues their journey toward recovery, they will undoubtedly face a variety of triggers, both new and old. In fact, transitions themselves are a risk factor for eating disorders, and the transition from treatment to “normal life” is no exception. Stepping back into everyday life can also bring forth a set of challenging situations, including inappropriate comments from others and diet culture pressures.

Read on for strategies and insights that will empower you to guide your patients in facing these challenges head-on.

November 6, 2023

Episode description:

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.

October 31, 2023

With the abundance of food, shared mealtimes, and large social gatherings, the holiday season can be immensely difficult for anyone living with or recovering from an eating disorder. Even as we shift into a more “normal” routine after pandemic-related disruptions, we continue to witness the impact of the last few years on people with eating disorders.

According to Hilmar Wagner, MPH, RDN, LN, CD, there are four key aspects of successfully navigating the holiday season while in eating disorder recovery. His method for a successful holiday is called P.R.E.P., which you can use in your work with your patients to support them this holiday season and beyond.

October 30, 2023

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Christina Toliver (she/her), and I am a Phone Intake Therapist for Accanto Health, the parent company of Veritas Collaborative and The Emily Program. I am a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate in North Carolina. I have been with Accanto for seven years!

What does a typical day look like for you at Accanto Health?

A typical day for me consists of assessing the level of care and clinical appropriateness for patients at our sites. I work with patients of all ages, their communities of support, and referring providers to ensure a seamless and swift transition into our care.

October 25, 2023

Living with an eating disorder is often an isolating experience. The constant battle with intrusive thoughts, maladaptive behaviors, and overwhelming emotions can make people feel trapped within their own minds, detached from the world around them.

The path to healing lies in reaching out and nurturing meaningful connections with others. At Veritas, we use a multidisciplinary approach, combining the expertise of professionals from various fields to address the physical, psychological, and emotional aspects of the disorder. In addition to individual sessions with medical providers, dietitians, psychiatric providers, and therapists, group therapy is a pillar of our treatment. It is incorporated across our continuum of care levels, including our partial hospitalization (PHP) and intensive outpatient (IOP) programs.

Read on to learn the power of group therapy in Veritas Collaborative’s PHP and IOP programs.

October 18, 2023

**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.

Natalie Colehower (she/her) is a 23-year-old Auburn University graduate currently living in Atlanta, Georgia. After her experience at Veritas Collaborative’s Eating Disorder Treatment Center in Atlanta, she has a calling to share her story and encourage those struggling that they are worthy just as they are!

Examining Your Relationship With Food

Have you ever considered your relationship with food? Is it positive, negative, a combination of both, or neutral? You could be rolling your eyes reading this and say, “Natalie I don’t think about food, I just eat what I want when I want and it’s not a ‘relationship,’ it’s food!”

That’s great! That is what I would call a positive relationship with food because it is joyful, and not bogged down by the food rules of society. That is where I strive to be one day.

I’m speaking to those of us who see food in not such a joyful light. Like a bad relationship, maybe your mind uses food to gaslight you, guilt you, scare you, or shame you. Maybe the strict food rules that have been drilled into you since childhood have slowly become rules that you live by—believing them to be the key to a “healthy” diet. This is the experience that I’ve had, but since I cannot speak for you, that’s where we will start.

October 12, 2023

Sports can have an incredibly positive effect on people’s lives, promoting social connection, self-confidence, and skills in teamwork and leadership. However, athletes also grapple with unique challenges, particularly when it comes to their relationship with food and their bodies. Research has shown that participation in sports can trigger or exacerbate eating disorders in those who are susceptible.

Read on to learn why athletes are at special risk of developing eating disorders, the signs to watch out for, and how these disorders can affect athletic performance.

October 5, 2023

Your discharge from eating disorder treatment is in your rearview vision, and it shows. Your relationships with food, eating, and your body are in a markedly better place. You’re working daily to rebuild self-trust and compassion, and your connections with friends and family feel richer for it. You’re carving a personal identity entirely separate from your illness, returning to long-abandoned hobbies, seeking out new experiences, and goal-setting for the future. Life isn’t perfect, but you’re engaging with it in a way you never believed was possible when your eating disorder hijacked your time, thoughts, energy, and attention.

You’ve heard time and again that eating disorder recovery is a nonlinear journey. In fact, you’re told, the work is far from finished once your program ends. Even with the added meaning that recovery has injected into your life, you’re encountering your fair share of challenges and related intrusive thoughts. You want to continue on the path of your new life, but these struggles make you anxious about slipping back into disordered habits. It seems triggers can’t be escaped or ignored—how can you manage the urges that follow?

October 2, 2023

**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.

Episode description:

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.”

September 28, 2023

You don’t know what to do. You’ve never had to worry about your twelve-year-old son before. His school report cards consistently reflect his conscientiousness, situating him comfortably at the top of his classes. He demonstrates the same drive outside the classroom, where he’s established himself as a dependable scorer for the school’s soccer team.

But something’s been off lately, giving you a gnawing feeling in your gut. Your son seems to be regressing to the picky eating of his childhood. His palette is increasingly limited these days, and he alleges digestive problems when asked to gather with the family for dinner. He used to have a tight-knit group of friends, but recently has been declining birthday party invitations and isolating himself. His soccer coach has called you and suggested your son take a leave from the team—he fainted during this evening’s practice.

You know you need to act, but you’re facing pushback from your son. He meets your concerns with heightened defensiveness, firmly denying that anything is wrong. He’s doubling down on his already rigid study schedule, convinced that any disruptions will derail his high-achieving track. You understand that school can wait, but you’re struggling to get your son on board with taking the time for treatment. Is it possible his reaction and this resistance are related to his unusual food behaviors? You reason it would be easier for him to continue his top performance if he wasn’t battling these food issues, but you can’t be sure. You need guidance from those who have walked this path before—that’s where we come in.

September 26, 2023

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Emerald Smith (she/her), and I am the Clinical Director at the Child, Adolescent, and Adult Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. I am a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor – Qualified Supervisor (LCMHC-QS), a Board-Certified Registered Art Therapist (ATR-BC), and a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher (200 RYT). I have been with Veritas Collaborative for three years.

September 18, 2023

We are pleased to share that Veritas Collaborative’s Triangle Outpatient Center in Durham, North Carolina, has opened its doors! At this new facility, children, adolescents, and adults of all genders can access our individualized, best-practice outpatient eating disorder services in a warm and inclusive environment.

September 14, 2023

Unlike some other mental health diagnoses, eating disorders have a high prevalence of associated medical complications. In fact, eating disorders are responsible for more than 3 million lost healthy years annually worldwide and are the second deadliest of all psychiatric diagnoses, second only to opioid use disorder.

Virtually every organ and system in the human body can be impacted by disordered eating, with effects ranging from mild to severely debilitating—and even life-threatening—depending on the duration and intensity of the illness.

As with all eating disorder-related complications, intervening early and connecting with a specialty care team are key to mitigating the risks of lasting physical damage.

September 11, 2023

Episode description:

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 patients 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.

September 7, 2023

Healing from an eating disorder doesn’t end with your discharge from treatment. That’s why it’s so important that eating disorder care helps patients develop effective coping strategies, self-care practices, and emotion regulation skills to use long after formal treatment ends. Transitioning from specialized eating disorder care into the “real world” can be jarring. Equipping patients with the tools and confidence to navigate life’s inevitable challenges ensures their recovery begins with a solid foundation.

Both yoga and mindfulness are tools that support the reconnection to mind and body essential in eating disorder treatment. They also protect a continuing recovery, offering patients accessible grounding techniques to confront urges and stressful moments. At Veritas Collaborative, we integrate yoga and mindfulness as holistic, skill-based therapies within our evidence-based treatment model.

Given the mainstream popularity of yoga and mindfulness, it’s critical to differentiate eating disorder-informed practices from the more insidious variations of yoga and mindfulness that have been commodified by wellness culture.

August 30, 2023

Tell us about yourself! 

My name is Shamane McAdams (she/her), and I am a Behavioral Health Technician (BHT) Manager at Veritas Collaborative’s Child and Adolescent Treatment Center in Durham, North Carolina. I have been working with Veritas for over six years! Fun fact: my first day of work was also my birthday! It remains the only year I have ever worked on my birthday.

What does a typical day look like for you at Veritas Collaborative? 

There is no typical day for me! I usually jump from meeting to meeting, problem-solve clinical staff challenges related to patient needs, train new hires, and check in with my staff on urgent items that need addressing.