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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!

A person standing on a scale

Physical Effects of Anorexia

Anorexia nervosa is arguably the most well-known eating disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Although anorexia is the eating disorder people often think of first, public understanding of the prevalence and severity of the condition is still limited. In this blog, we will cover the basics of anorexia, including the signs, symptoms, and physical effects. 

What is Anorexia?

Low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight, and body image disturbance are the main characteristics of anorexia nervosa. There are two types of anorexia: restricting type and binge eating/purging type. Most commonly associated with anorexia is the restricting type, characterized by extreme restriction but no bingeing or purging behaviors. The binge eating/purging type of anorexia includes recurrent episodes of binge eating or purging, such as self-induced vomiting or misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.

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Rachael Steil

Episode 75: Eating Disorders in Running with Rachael Steil

Episode description:

In this episode of Peace Meal, Rachael Steil shares her past struggles with anorexia and binge eating and her current passion for helping athletes with eating disorders. Rachael loved running from a young age, but the drive she felt to improve in her sport contributed to restrictive eating behaviors. She says she became obsessed with food and started pulling away from her friends and hobbies. Once Rachael started her recovery journey, she received incredible support from her college running coach. Reflecting on this experience, Rachael explains the essential role that coaches can have on their athletes’ lives and the importance of educating coaches on eating disorder warning signs. Rachael ends the podcast with the inspiration for creating her memoir Running in Silence and her nonprofit of the same name and previews the topic of her next book. 

Rachael Steil is an eating disorder recovery advocate and the author of Running in Silence, which details her story as an All-American athlete struggling with anorexia and binge eating. She is also the founder of the Running in Silence nonprofit to break misconceptions and raise awareness for eating disorders in sports, serves on the board of the Michigan Eating Disorder Alliance, and is currently a mentor for the USTFCCCA Female Coaches Mentorship Program. 

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Margo Maine

Invisible Women: Eating Disorders Hiding in Plain Sight

“Eating disorders.” Reading those two words, most of us just visualized a teenage or college-aged girl. And let’s be honest—she’s probably white as well.

Not so long ago, age seemed to immunize adult women from the body image concerns, weight issues, and eating disorders that plague the younger years. Although most cases still appear in adolescent girls and young women, an alarming shift has occurred. Eating disorders have been on the rise among middle-aged and older women. Between 1999 and 2009, inpatient admissions showed the greatest increase in this group, with women over age 45 accounting for a full 25% of those admissions in the United States. Despite this, these women are invisible in our healthcare system. This must change.

The cultural pressures to be perfect—including having a flawless, slim body—have no expiration dates and no boundaries. This pressure is now occurring across age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, ability, class, culture, and place. Our fast-moving consumer culture has created unprecedented opportunities and stress for women. Despite growing economic strength, political influence, and educational and career opportunities, a Gallup Well-Being Index indicates that women aged 45 to 64 have the lowest well-being and highest stress of any age group or gender in the United States.

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Eric Pothen

Episode 74: Finding Yourself in Recovery with Eric Pothen

Episode description:

In this episode of Peace Meal, Eric Pothen discusses how well-meaning comments about his body played a part in the development of his eating disorder. Following the body commentary he received after college, he says he started restricting, bingeing, and purging via excessive exercise. Eventually exhausted by the darkness he was living in and the feeling of losing himself, he set out on a path to recovery. He explains how preparing for a marathon helped his recovery because he had to focus on nourishing his body to prepare for the race. He also tells us how affirmations played an integral role in his recovery. Eric ends the podcast by explaining that recovery not only gives you freedom from your eating disorder, but also helps you rediscover and love yourself.  

A middle school choir teacher in Albertville, MN, Eric struggled with an eating disorder for several years. Today, he uses his previous struggles of having an eating disorder as his strength to raise awareness and serve as an advocate for those who struggle with these illnesses, disordered eating, or body image. Eric is the owner and founder of the apparel company Embrace Wear, whose mission is to help others learn how to embrace themselves and discover beauty and self-worth within. He recently launched a podcast of his own, Embracing You, which is now available on Apple Podcasts.  

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Haleigh Stanley

Staff Spotlight, Haleigh Stanley

Tell us about yourself! 

My name is Haleigh Stanley and I am the Hospital Education Manager at the Atlanta Hospital. I have been with Veritas Collaborative since July 2020, so almost two years now!

Describe the career path that led you to Veritas Collaborative.

I went to college at the University of Dayton (go Flyers!) for Middle Childhood Education. I was a teacher for five years and worked with students ages 10 to 14 in varying subject areas, including math, science, English, and special education. 

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Farheen Ahmed

Are You Sure It’s Just Picky Eating?

**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, or symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

Farheen Ahmed is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Maryland, College Park, studying Neuroscience on the pre-medical track. She is originally from Virginia and spends almost half of every year in Houston, Texas. In her free time, you can find her working at her research lab, volunteering for Rock Recovery, hanging out with her friends, or reading romance novels. Farheen struggled with an eating disorder throughout her high school years and can proudly say she is a recovered survivor.

For the longest time, my friends had me labeled as a picky eater. To them, I didn’t like pasta, I hated pizza, and I’d rather not eat at all than eat anything with cheese. Some excuses I told them were that cheese hurt my stomach, dairy made me break out, and ice cream hurt my teeth. All of this was nothing but lies. I was trying to cover up my fear of most foods. To my friends, I was just a picky eater, which is how I justified eating the same foods every day. I called myself “a creature of habit,” but in reality, I was simply living my life in fear of foods that didn’t deserve to have any sort of power over me.

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Dr. Jaime Taylor and Nayiri Khatchadourian

Episode 73: Diabetes and Eating Disorders with Dr. Jaime Taylor and Nayiri Khatchadourian

Episode description:

In this episode of Peace Meal, Dr. Jaime Taylor and Nayiri Khatchadourian discuss their study on physicians’ knowledge about disordered eating in patients with diabetes. Through their study, they found that many physicians feel that they do not have the resources to help patients who show signs of disordered eating. They also describe warning signs of disordered eating to look for in patients with diabetes, as well as some serious health complications that may occur in patients with an eating disorder and diabetes. They end the conversation by emphasizing the importance of spreading awareness about the elevated eating disorder risk for those with diabetes, as well as highlighting the fact that weight does not determine health.

Dr. Jaime Taylor is the Director of Adolescent Medicine at Beaumont Children’s and is the Medical Director of the Hough Center for Adolescent Health. She is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of adolescents and is passionate about teaching on that subject as an Assistant Professor at Oakland University – William Beaumont School of Medicine. Nayiri Khatchadourian is currently a third-year medical student at Oakland University – William Beaumont School of Medicine. Her passion for advocating for mental health along with nutrition and wellness stemmed from her personal journey and struggles throughout her adolescent years. 

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A parent cutting up their child's food for them

How to Support Your Child with ARFID

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is a newer eating disorder diagnosis that is not as well known as conditions like anorexia and bulimia. Once classified as Selective Eating Disorder (SED), ARFID most commonly affects children and young adolescents⁠—and of course, the parents caring for them. Navigating how to support a child with an eating disorder can be a challenging journey, one made even more difficult when the eating disorder is not widely known or discussed. 

In this blog, we will provide an overview of ARFID, its warning signs, and helpful ways to support your child affected by this type of eating disorder. 

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Alisha Hana

A Journey to Healing Is Never Easy, but It’s Always Worth It

**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, or symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

Alisha Hana is a bulimia survivor and Surgical Tech in Columbus, Ohio. Writing has always been a passion of hers and has given her a healthy outlet in her recovery. As she continues her journey in healing, she hopes her story can help others and remind them they aren’t alone.

My eating disorder began as a thought, then morphed into a response to an idea that progressed to fear and eventually extreme restriction.

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Kateri Anderson Heymans

Episode 72: The Benefits of Meditation with Kateri Anderson Heymans

Episode description:

Kateri Anderson Heymans is a woman from Minnesota who works remotely and lives her dream of traveling the world. After years of struggling with anorexia and binge eating disorder, she has found freedom from the illnesses that once consumed her life. Since Kateri was 17, she has practiced a type of meditation called the Isha Judd System, taught by the Isha Educating for Peace Foundation. She now teaches this method of meditation and supports others on their journey, taking whatever opportunity she can to share with others the tools and insight that transformed her life.

In this episode of Peace Meal, Kateri discusses her history of anorexia and binge eating disorder, including the isolation and misery these eating disorders caused. She tells us about her journey to finding a meditation practice that positively changed her recovery and life. Through meditation, Kateri was able to gain the self-love and compassion that she so desperately needed, as well as overcome anxiety, depression, and grief from the loss of her mother. Kateri encourages everyone to give themselves the love and grace they deserve and ends the episode with a powerful meditation. 

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Ben Eckstein

Using Self-Compassion to Combat Motivational Perfectionism

One of the tricky things about mental health problems is that the outside world only sees the tip of the iceberg. The observable behaviors and symptoms are apparent for all to see, but underneath the visible exterior is a complex set of thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and experiences. These are the mechanisms which truly power things like eating disorders and OCD, but for better or worse, they tend to go unnoticed. It makes sense, then, that someone might believe that treating these problems is as simple as telling someone to “just eat” or to “just stop eating.” After all, we have the ability to make choices about our behavior, so shouldn’t we be able to wrangle these symptoms into our control? When a therapist says to resist a compulsion or to follow a meal plan, aren’t they saying that it’s just a matter of pushing through the discomfort?

As you probably know, it’s not quite that simple. Sure, determination and willingness will come in handy, but we have to be careful not to reduce this process to something so simple. The oversimplified American mentality of “picking yourself up by your bootstraps” doesn’t always fit with the complexities of mental health. Tempting as it might be to double down on willpower, it’s actually not a particularly effective way to get things done. Willpower is a finite resource. We inevitably lose steam and end up depleted. 

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College students in class

Eating Disorders and College Students

Kayla* was a 19-year-old art student who garnered the attention of her college professors and was thought of as a protégé in the expression of abstract images. She was quiet with pink streaks in her hair. She wore layers of clothes and sometimes seemed to disappear into her own internal world. Mentors at times wondered if she was too thin, but her work was impeccable, and they had no idea how to express their concern.

Kayla suffered a cardiac arrest in her studio at her art school on a Tuesday night, and with her, her art died. She had struggled with anorexia in high school and never fully recovered. Her relapse went unaddressed in a college environment, where her eating disorder gained strength in isolation and ultimately proved fatal. Eating disorders have a very high mortality rate relative to other mental health disorders, and they thrive on secrecy.

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Veritas Durham Lodging

Lodging Opens in Durham

Veritas Collaborative now provides lodging for adult patients (18+) of all genders in Durham, North Carolina! Lodging is currently available to those in our partial hospitalization program (PHP) who do not live near our Durham Adult Hospital and Center. The comfortable, safe space is just minutes from this treatment location, making it easy to go back and forth for care. 

Veritas lodging provides patients a homelike place to stay in a safe neighborhood with lots of shopping and restaurants nearby, as well as public transportation to get there. The non-therapeutic, peer-supported setting offers patients an opportunity to put what they’ve learned in formal treatment into real-life practice.

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A BIPOC woman sits with her healthcare provider

Barriers to Eating Disorder Treatment for People of Color

BIPOC Mental Health Month is a time to educate ourselves on the unique mental health challenges and needs of people of color in the United States. Among these mental health issues are eating disorders, psychiatric illnesses that regularly go under-recognized and under-treated in communities of color. The reasons behind this gap are complex, ranging from eating disorder stigma and provider bias to treatment access and cultural forces. 

In this article, we will cover the prevalence of eating disorders in communities of color, barriers to treatment, and how healthcare providers can spot the warning signs and symptoms in these communities. 

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Yvonne Pedley

Make Small, Gradual Changes in Anorexia Recovery

**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.

Yvonne-Anne is an anorexia survivor currently residing in the UK. While caring for her family members, Yvonne also went to university for a Health and Social Care degree and graduated in 2016. Yvonne’s passion is providing coping strategies with a mix of self-help for those suffering with an eating disorder. She is also seeking literacy representation for her book, The Kaleidoscope Influence, which has recently been published on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

I would firstly like to congratulate those who have recovered or are still recovering from an eating disorder. My journey began when I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at the age of 16. The treatment, or lack of treatment, that I received would be considered unethical compared to the treatments available today. I had no choice but to navigate recovery on my own and find alternatives that worked for me.

In this blog, I will be discussing my recovery journey, including how I dealt with some of the physical and emotional effects that can come along with it.

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Two people hold hands with a Pride flag in the background

Eating Disorders in the LGBTQIA+ Community

There is a stereotype that those with eating disorders are primarily young, thin, cisgender white women. Here at Veritas Collaborative, we know this stereotype is untrue and potentially harmful. Eating disorders affect people of any race, gender, sexuality, age, socioeconomic status, or size. In fact, studies show that the LGBTQIA+ community experiences eating disorders just as much, if not more than their non-LGBTQIA+ peers. LGBTQIA+ is an umbrella term that includes several sexual and gender identities. We will be speaking about this group generally, but we know that it encompasses a diverse mix of identities and experiences. 

In this blog, we will discuss eating disorders in the LGBTQIA+ community, including unique challenges, barriers to treatment, and ways healthcare providers and treatment centers can create an inclusive environment. 

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Jon McCue

Staff Spotlight, Jon McCue

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Jon McCue and I am the Clinic Navigator at Veritas Collaborative’s Child, Adolescent, and Adult Center in Richmond, Virginia. I have been with the company since September of 2017.

Describe the path that led you to Veritas Collaborative.

I had a meandering path to where I am now. I started off studying fashion design at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), and I had no intention of going into healthcare. I took my first psychology class to meet some requirements to complete my degree and I ended up taking a few more because I thought the subject was interesting. Before I knew it, I met all the qualifications to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and I was way behind in my fashion design program.

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Woman holding a mug and looking out the window

Reflections on Mental Health: A Q&A with Veritas Staff

Millions of Americans struggle with their mental health. That is one reason why Mental Health Awareness Month is so significant. Eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder are just some examples of what people are experiencing. Mental health is often stigmatized, but it deserves to be seen as equally as important as physical health. Everyone deserves support and care for their mental health, regardless of whether they suffer with a mental illness. 

To close out Mental Health Awareness Month, we asked some of our therapists about mental health—what it means to them and how they protect theirs while working in the field. Check out their answers below!

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Group therapy

Ethics in Eating Disorder Treatment

Eating disorder clinicians are guided by ethics to ensure the best for every patient that comes into their care. In general, ethics help clinicians determine appropriate clinical decisions and behavior. They provide a compass for what is “right” and what is “wrong,” although determining that is not usually so simple. Treatment providers will encounter a variety of moral dilemmas in their careers, and ethics can provide a general framework for navigating these situations. 

In this blog, we will cover key ethical principles in the treatment of eating disorders, as well as several dilemmas that the field’s clinicians may face. 

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Andre Alston

Staff Spotlight, Andre Alston

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Andre Alston and I am the Executive Chef de Cuisine at Veritas Collaborative’s Child and Adolescent Hospital and Center in Durham, North Carolina. December 11, 2022 will make five years with the company.

Describe the career path that led you to Veritas Collaborative.

Before my role at Veritas Collaborative, I worked in the culinary industry for over 20 years in different types of settings, but I had never worked at an eating disorder treatment center. Working in a hospital setting has been so unique compared to my previous work.

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