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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!

The Thanksgiving Table

Navigating the Thanksgiving Table: A Letter for Those in Eating Disorder Recovery

A note upfront: you will get through Thanksgiving this year.

You will get through this day supercharged with expectations of gratitude, joy, and togetherness. This day when seemingly everyone is eager to take to the kitchen and prepare their assigned dish, presenting it to a table of revelers ready to express their thankfulness over an abundant feast.

You will get through this day that marks the first in a series of seasonal holiday gatherings in which family dynamics and food compete for the center stage–for better or for worse.

Thanksgiving can push the limits of eating disorder recovery in so many ways. It is fraught with the potential for triggers, whether you are well-established in your healing journey or are in the throes of an eating disorder.

Know the lessons from this day will be abundant. Moments that challenge your recovery may be abundant. Ultimately, your growth will be the most abundant. You can and will get through this.

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Maddie Duzyk

Episode 78: Occupational Therapy and Eating Disorders with Maddie Duzyk

Episode description:

We begin this episode of Peace Meal with guest Maddie Duzyk describing her lived experience with anorexia as it compares to her life in recovery. Reflecting on the everyday impact of her eating disorder, she explains how the illness made it difficult to distinguish between her own values and those of her disorder. Fortunately, treatment and recovery have allowed her to find herself again and reconnect with her interests and roles separate from the illness she once mistook for herself. 

As an occupational therapist, Maddie now helps patients on their own recovery journey, including during the often difficult transition from higher levels of care to outpatient life. She shares with us her recent doctoral capstone, which explored the perceptions of social eating behaviors among adolescents with eating disorders, and provides suggestions for those supporting a person with an eating disorder during mealtimes. She ends the podcast by expressing her hope that one day patients and providers alike will recognize and employ occupational therapy as an additional resource in eating disorder recovery. 

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A table set for Thanksgiving decorated with pumpkins, leaves, and pinecones

How to Help Patients Navigate the Holiday Season in Recovery

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.

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A heart-shaped plate with utensils arranged to form a peace sign.

Introducing CARE IOP, Intensive Treatment for Binge Eating

Veritas Collaborative is excited to announce the addition of virtual CARE IOP to our continuum of eating disorder care. CARE—which stands for Cultivating Awareness and Resilience with Experience/Eating/Emotions—is specifically designed for adults with binge eating disorder (BED) or OSFED marked by a pattern of binge eating. The virtual intensive program provides therapeutic intervention and peer support while offering an opportunity for self-accountability and recovery-focused skill development at home. CARE IOP is currently available in North Carolina with plans to expand across other states. 

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A woman sits on her couch with a sad expression on her face

Eating Disorders, Suicidal Ideation, and Nonsuicidal Self-Injurious Behavior

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that commonly co-occur with other mental disorders. Research has shown that 55–97% of people diagnosed with these illnesses are also diagnosed with at least one more psychiatric disorder. In addition, individuals with eating disorders are at a higher risk of dying by suicide in comparison to the general population (NEDC). This information highlights the importance of understanding the signs of suicidal thoughts and methods of preventing suicide in those experiencing eating disorders.

Alyssa Kalata, PhD, Clinical Training Manager for Veritas Collaborative and The Emily Program, joins us in this blog to discuss five actions you can take to reduce suicide risk when working with eating disorder patients.

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Person pushing a cart through a grocery store

Food Insecurity and Eating Disorders

Life is unpredictable. Unexpected expenses like layoffs, medical emergencies, or home repairs can force families to choose between buying food or paying their bills. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that 10.2% of American households experienced food insecurity in 2021. The percentage translates to more than 34 million people, including 9 million children. These millions of Americans are at risk of experiencing the serious physical and psychological consequences of food insecurity, including eating disorders

In this blog, we will examine the topic of food insecurity and its connection to eating disorders, as well as what we can do to help those affected. 

What is Food Insecurity?

Food insecurity describes a lack of consistent access to enough food for every member of a household. The issue disproportionally affects marginalized communities, including people of color, people with disabilities, and low-income households. In addition, low-income neighborhoods tend to have fewer supermarkets and grocery stores, which can leave them with lower-quality food options. 

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A man sits with his head resting on his hand

Eating Disorders and Males

The topic of eating disorders in males has only been considered widely in eating disorder research and treatment communities for the last 30 years. Prior to the 1990s, eating disorders were thought to be so rare in men that they were not typically recognized as a population that could struggle with the illness. Males with Eating Disorders by Arnold Andersen, the first textbook that focused exclusively on eating disorders in males, came out in 1990. In subsequent years, researchers have contributed new information about eating disorders in men to the field’s literature, even as the general public continues to assume that eating disorders only affect women.

Due to these trends in research and public opinion, many eating disorder treatment interventions were created with women in mind (Strother, Lemberg, Stanford, & Turberville, 2012). Thankfully, this trend is starting to change, but there is still a need for a greater focus on eating disorders in men.

In this blog, we will discuss eating disorders in men and how they may present differently than in other genders, as well as the importance of considering the male experience in the treatment, research, and discussion of these illnesses. 

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Elizabeth Puckett

Staff Spotlight, Elizabeth Puckett

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Elizabeth Puckett, formally Deutsch (as in ‘Sprechen Sie Deutsch?’), and I am a Registered Nurse at the Richmond, Virginia Center. I was born in northern Illinois about an hour outside of Chicago and moved to Payson, Arizona the day after my 26th birthday. I met my spouse Earl three months after I moved there, got engaged six months later, and married five months after that. A year later our oldest boy, who is 10 now, was born. 

Why are you passionate about being a nurse?

Well, I’ve always been a helpful person. I remember that I would always be the first person to volunteer when grade school teachers would ask for help. I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do when I grew up. I often thought about being a doctor, but dreams come and go. My aptitude test in high school said I should look in the healthcare field. Eventually, I became a CNA, and then a nurse.

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Woman looking out the window lost in thought

Physical Effects of Bulimia Nervosa

**Content warning: This post includes discussion of purging behaviors. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

Bulimia nervosa, like all eating disorders, is associated with both long- and short-term health consequences. Without professional help, this illness is incredibly damaging to the body––even life-threatening. With early intervention and treatment, however, it’s possible to prevent these health effects from becoming lifelong issues. In this blog, we will discuss what bulimia entails, the warning signs and symptoms, and the physical health effects so that you can help those struggling get connected to help as soon as possible.

What is Bulimia?

Bulimia is characterized by recurrent binge eating and purging behaviors, along with a preoccupation with body appearance. Those diagnosed with the condition typically consume large amounts of food in a discrete period of time and then purge in an effort to control their body weight or shape. Purging can include self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic misuse, insulin mismanagement, and excessive exercise. 

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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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A mother and her daughter smiling while eating ice cream

How to Help Children Build a Healthy Relationship with Food

Diet culture is so ingrained in our society that we sometimes can’t even see it. It’s in media messages that tell us that being thin will make us attractive, popular, and successful. It’s on grocery store labels that say foods are “guilt-free” or “sinful.” It’s in conversations about the latest diet or the food someone is “being so bad” for eating. 

In a culture that regards some bodies and foods as good––and others “bad”––it’s no surprise that children might start to develop unhealthy relationships with both. Unfortunately, a negative relationship with food and one’s body can play a part in the development of an eating disorder. Although a child’s environment alone cannot cause a biopsychosocial illness like an eating disorder, it is the factor we can work together to change. Parents have the opportunity to create a healthy environment around food and body image in their home, which can have an incredibly positive impact on their child’s development. 

In this blog, we will delve into how parents can help their children develop a healthy relationship with food and body image.

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A room decorated for Halloween, including pumpkins and a bowl of candy

Celebrating Halloween in Eating Disorder Recovery

Halloween can be scary in more ways than one for people with eating disorders. Being surrounded by candy, wearing a costume, and attending social events are some of the potential triggers this holiday can bring. Despite these challenges, it is possible to celebrate in a recovery-friendly way. 

Read on for helpful tips on how to enjoy Halloween while also prioritizing your eating disorder recovery.

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Jonathan Levy

Staff Spotlight, Jonathan Levy

Tell us about yourself!

I’m Jonathan Levy, Medical Director and Director of Psychiatric Services for Veritas Collaborative’s Atlanta Hospital for Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults. I am a physician specializing in General Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. I am also a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a CEDS-S (Certified Eating Disorder Specialist – Supervisor). In addition, I serve as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry for Emory University School of Medicine and for Morehouse School of Medicine in its Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Prior to joining Veritas Collaborative, I worked in various clinical settings, including at a PHP eating disorder program, the Atlanta VA Medical Center, Georgia Regional State Hospital, and in private practice.

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Beth Harrell

Episode 77: A Collaborative Approach to Treatment with Beth Harrell

Episode description:

In this episode of Peace Meal, guest Beth Harrell, MS, RD, LD, CEDRD-S, discusses her experience in the eating disorder field, and reflects on how much eating disorder education and training has evolved since she got her start in the early 1990s. The bedrock of Beth’s career success is collaboration. She emphasizes the value of learning from clients’ lived experiences, as well as from the wisdom and vulnerability of fellow professionals. As a certified eating disorder supervisor, Beth debunks the notion that supervision is just case consultation. She guides from a place of mentorship and trauma-informed nutrition care, largely inspired by the perspective-broadening experiences she had with her own supervisors.

Beth is a collaborative and weight-inclusive nutrition professional who has worked with eating disorders, disordered eating, and chronic dieting for the past 30 years. Her work spans all levels of care, treating a full spectrum of diagnoses and ages. Beth’s passions are anything that includes learning and teaching. She has an educational podcast for eating disorder professionals (The SeasonED RD) and carries this knowledge into professional supervision, as well as a graduate elective course for dietitians each fall semester.

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Noi Ceballos

Staff Spotlight, Noi Ceballos

Tell us about yourself!

Hello, my name is Noi Ceballos and I am the Talent Acquisition Manager with Accanto Health, the parent company of Veritas Collaborative and The Emily Program. I started out on the Veritas Collaborative brand in August of 2019 when we only had a team of two recruiters! I joined Accanto after the merger and our team has grown to eight recruiters supporting Accanto Health, The Emily Program, and Veritas Collaborative. 

Describe the career path that led you to Accanto Health.

My entry into the eating disorder field was relatively unplanned. Prior to joining Veritas, I worked in pediatrics, leading a recruitment team that staffed 35 facilities across the state of Florida. I had been there for 12 years and felt the need for change. I didn’t know what I wanted but I knew that I needed a new challenge. I came across an Indeed posting for Veritas, became intrigued by the company’s name, and decided to visit the website. From there it was “love at first sight.” I felt admiration and appreciation for the work and just knew I needed to be part of it. 

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Accanto Health CSO Jillian Lampert, Project HEAL CEO Rebecca Eyre, Accanto Health CEO Dave Willcutts, and Accanto Health CCO Liz McCabe

Veritas Partners with Project HEAL to Increase Access to Eating Disorder Treatment in Georgia

Veritas Collaborative’s new partnership with Project HEAL was announced at Accanto Health’s 2022 Symposium in Atlanta, GA. Pictured from left to right: Jillian Lampert, Accanto Health Chief Strategy Officer; Rebecca Eyre, Project HEAL CEO; Dave Willcutts, Accanto Health CEO; Liz McCabe, Accanto Health Chief Clinical Officer

We’re excited to share that we’ve partnered with Project HEAL to help increase access to care for individuals currently underrepresented in eating disorder treatment—particularly those who are low-income, underinsured, or marginalized. 

Our charitable care efforts have historically focused on individuals whose insurance prematurely cuts off during a treatment stay. This partnership allows us to expand these efforts to provide charitable care to individuals who are otherwise unable to admit to care due to prohibitive insurance, financial, and systemic barriers.

As part of this partnership, Veritas will provide free residential treatment to at least 12 Project HEAL beneficiaries per year who are low-income or facing extenuating financial circumstances, experiencing medical or social discrimination related to their identity or appearance, or don’t currently have quality eating disorder treatment options through an insurance provider.

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Avery Mock

Episode 76: Accepting Recovery with Avery Mock

Episode description:

In this episode of Peace Meal, guest Avery Mock discusses how a goal to “get healthy” spiraled into an obsession with food and exercise that led to anorexia. He describes how he was a different person at the height of his eating disorder, burning bridges with the closest people around him. Thankfully, Avery was able to get into treatment to start his journey to recovery. Structure and support have been key to protecting his mental and physical health, he says. In recovery he has learned that food doesn’t need to take up so much space in his brain and that clothing size does not define his worth. Now he doesn’t need—or want—to change his body to be happy. Avery ends the episode by giving advice to those struggling with eating disorders, encouraging them to accept recovery. 

Avery is an anorexia survivor and mental health advocate dedicated to helping people recognize the warning signs of eating disorders and help others in recovery.

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Students walking with backpacks

Tips for Going Back to School in Eating Disorder Recovery

It’s back-to-school time for parents and students across the country. Big changes in routine are an adjustment for anyone, and especially for people in eating disorder recovery. In addition to shifting schedules, these individuals often face additional difficulties this time of year. This article covers the potential triggers that can come with going back to school, as well as strategies for coping with these challenges in eating disorder recovery.

Student Mental Health Crisis

In 2021, more than a third of surveyed high school students in the U.S. reported experiencing poor mental health during the pandemic, and 44% said they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year, according to a recent CDC study. In a 2020 survey of 1,000 parents around the country, 71% said the pandemic had taken a toll on their child’s mental health. 

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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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