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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.

Woman sitting with food

What is Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive eating is a method that trusts the body’s natural intuition to guide a person’s eating decisions. It is about eating mindfully and dismissing food rules that have been made from either childhood, family rules, diet culture, misinformation about food, or eating disorders. Intuitive eating is not a diet, but a way to work with your body to notice signs of either hunger or fullness. These are internal signs that allow the body to be the expert of its physical and psychological needs.

The intuitive eating approach relies on the body’s natural intuition. However, eating often feels far from intuitive for many people, as diet culture and disordered eating habits create distance from this natural intuition. A strong mind-body connection is needed with intuitive eating; without it, the mind can’t act as a manager for the body’s hunger and nutritional needs. An eating disorder can make it difficult to satisfy the body’s needs, relying instead on external rules. This blog aims to inform you of the principles of intuitive eating as well as what intuitive eating looks like.  

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Betsy Brenner

Episode 64: Healing Has No Age Limit with Betsy Brenner

Episode description: 

Betsy is a long-time tennis coach, retired hospital attorney, and the author of a memoir titled The Longest Match: Rallying to Defeat an Eating Disorder in Midlife. Her inspiring message is that it is never too late to be a work in progress. Betsy is also an eating disorder recovery speaker, advocate, and peer support mentor who shows that it is possible to heal from past trauma and become healthier in body, mind, and spirit.

In this episode of Peace Meal, Betsy discusses how she was taught to suppress her emotions growing up, how dealing with her trauma was the only way to recover from her eating disorder, and how you’re never too old to start healing. She tells us how the food she consumed as a child was completely controlled by her mother, and how that prevented her from learning how to eat intuitively. She also covers the combination of events that led to her developing an eating disorder in midlife. Betsy shares that telling her story in her memoir lifted the weight of her trauma and made her feel empowered and free. She emphasizes that you can recover, as long as you’re willing to put in the hard work and deal with the trauma you’ve experienced.

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Male looking in mirror

The Difference Between Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating

In any individual, eating disorders can be tough to notice or diagnose, especially because they are so common. Diet-culture and the glorification of over-exercise may leave many warning signs of eating disorders unnoticed and are sometimes mistakenly seen as positive instead of worrisome.

It can be confusing to distinguish the difference between disordered eating and eating disorders. There is a gray area which disordered eating sits because of the potential less severe or less frequent restricting, purging, overeating, or irregular eating patterns. These patterns are usually much more frequent, and sometimes obsessive, in eating disorders. In this blog, we will dive into the differences between disordered eating and eating disorders.

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Amy Gardner

Episode 63: Healing from Compulsive Exercise with Amy Gardner

Episode description: 

Amy Gardner, MS, CEDRD, RYT, is the creator of the program iMove and the author of the book iMove: Helping Your Clients Heal from Compulsive Exercise. The book discusses the difference between movement and exercise, and how each relates to eating disorder recovery.

In this episode of Peace Meal, Amy breaks down what compulsive exercise and movement are, both in and out of the recovery space, how to notice when exercise turns into a compulsion, and what to do when compulsive exercise starts to become the only way some individuals feel a sense of accomplishment. Amy provides insights based on her and her clients’ experiences with movement and offers different approaches to changing compulsive exercise routines.

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Lucie Waldman

Episode 62: Eating Disorders in the Jewish Community with Lucie Waldman

Episode description: 

Lucie Waldman is the author of The Jots of Becoming, a book that features insights about recovering from anorexia and includes multiple Jewish excerpts. Lucie also runs an eating disorder recovery awareness and support account on Instagram, enjoys speaking for multiple platforms about the intersection between Judaism and mental health, and is deeply passionate about mental health, eating disorder recovery, and equity in the treatment setting.

In this episode of Peace Meal, Lucie discusses how Jewish culture and religion should be considered in eating disorder treatment, how sharing your recovery story can be beneficial, and how small steps in recovery add up to a longer and stronger recovery. Reflecting on her own experience, Lucie shares that she had trouble finding recovery content that resonated with her, so she decided to turn her story into such a resource for others. Among the messages she wanted to share is that not everyone has a “magic moment” where they feel ready to start eating disorder treatment. What’s more important, she says, is being willing to take small steps toward recovery. Lucie also examines the complex relationship between Judaism and her eating disorder recovery, underscoring the need to take into account intergenerational trauma and other cultural considerations during treatment. She concludes the episode by telling anyone struggling that every time they defy their eating disorder, it adds up to a longer and stronger recovery. 

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A man sits on the couch with his hands clasped under his chin and looking contemplative

Eating Disorders and Depression

October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month, which brings awareness to the need for depression and mental health screenings. Along with other mental health conditions, depression frequently overlaps with eating disorders. In this article, we will cover common myths about depression, how to support a loved one with depression and an eating disorder, and how to notice the signs of depression in order to get someone help.

Depression and other mood disorders co-occur with eating disorders quite frequently. Research shows that 3239% of people with anorexia nervosa, 3650% of people with bulimia nervosa, and 33% of people with binge eating disorder are also diagnosed with major depressive disorder. The relationship between depression and eating disorders is complex. Depression can make people more likely to feel negative about their bodies, which can put them at risk for an eating disorder. Eating disorders can make people more at risk for the development of depression, particularly if they experience rapid weight loss or starvation.

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Kelsey Fenimore

Episode 61: The Intersection of Faith and Mental Health with Kelsey

Episode description: 

Kelsey is a pediatric registered nurse working on her master’s degree in psychiatric nursing. In this episode of Peace Meal, she shares her eating disorder and recovery story, including the impact of her faith and her college environment on her experiences of illness and recovery. 

Though Kelsey had seen many medical providers growing up, she says her relationship with food long went unquestioned. She had concerns about her eating but struggled in silence for years. She didn’t yet have the language to name her disordered eating, often describing her anxiety and stress more generally instead. She faced barriers getting help in college—a stressful environment already—but only found lasting support after an interaction at church. A person of faith, Kelsey turned to her pastor, who told her that her illness required professional support. Prayers alone would not heal her. After being connected with new resources, she says she became honest with her secrets with her family and made a “no more lying” rule with her parents. Her sister and niece were also strong motivations to help her recover and to model and practice body positivity. Kelsey leaves us with insight and hope for college students, people of faith, or anyone struggling with an eating disorder. 

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A mother speaking to a professional with her child.

Eating Disorders in Adolescents

For parents, it can be frightening and taxing to discover your child may have an eating disorder. This blog breaks down eating disorders in adolescents, including warning signs, contributing factors, health consequences, and ways to support those affected.

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Dr. Laura Hill

Episode 60: Temperament-Based Therapy with Supports (TBT-S) with Laura Hill

Episode description:

Dr. Laura Hill is an international eating disorder consultant focusing on brain-based eating disorder treatment approaches. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at The Ohio State University and Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at The University of California, San Diego. She is one of the original founders of the Academy for Eating Disorders and the Director of the organization now known as NEDA from 1990 to 1994. In addition, Dr. Hill is the founder and former President and Chief Executive Officer of The Center for Balanced Living.

In this episode of Peace Meal, Dr. Hill introduces an emerging brain-based treatment called Temperament-Based Therapy with Supports (TBT-S). TBT-S helps people with eating disorders understand their unique temperament so that they can use it as a tool for recovery. Distinguishing between traits and symptoms, Dr. Hill explains that temperament includes traits like impulsivity, introversion, and determination, while symptoms include eating disorder behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. She emphasizes that temperament traits are neither good nor bad; what’s important is how they are applied. TBT-S helps people with eating disorders and their support people use their traits more productively to aid in recovery. Dr. Hill also talks about the importance of support in treatment and recovery. In the end, she addresses how providers can use TBT-S to complement other treatment approaches. 

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Ben Eckstein

Untangling Eating Disorders and OCD

The 10th Annual Veritas Collaborative Symposium on Eating Disorders, co-hosted by The Emily Program, will unite healthcare professionals and eating disorders experts around this year’s theme, “Engaging Science, Unifying Voices, and Transforming Access.” In this article, Ben Eckstein, a speaker at this year’s Symposium, explores the connection between OCD and eating disorders.

Rigid routines. Experiential avoidance. Feeling out of control. Ruminative thoughts. Are we talking about OCD or eating disorders? Maybe both. If you’ve spent any time treating eating disorders, chances are good that you’ve come across an individual with comorbid Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). While rates vary across different types of eating disorders, studies generally show comorbidity rates ranging from 10–44%. This frequent overlap can create diagnostic confusion even for seasoned clinicians. It’s easy to see why: though there are some clear distinctions, the phenomenological similarities can muddy the water and complicate diagnosis and treatment planning.

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A woman holding her hands over her heart in gratitude.

Self-Care During the Holiday Season

During the holiday season, it can be easy to get wrapped up in festivities and family. Thanksgiving can be especially stressful for those struggling with an eating disorder because most households celebrate with food. Having to navigate this food-centric holiday with an eating disorder just adds to the chaos often experienced around this time. This blog aims to keep you mindful of yourself and your recovery during the holidays ahead.

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Person holding a transgender flag behind them as it blows in the wind with a blue sky behind it.

Eating Disorders in the Transgender Community

According to an analysis based on federal and state data, 0.6 percent of individuals (roughly 1.4 million people in the United States) identify as transgender. Identifying as transgender means that someone’s gender identity or gender role differs from those typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. The number of people coming out as transgender has gone up in the past 10 years and it is believed to be because these individuals are finding it increasingly safer to do so. 

The LGBTQ+ community is at higher risk of developing an eating disorder, which can be associated with the likelihood of past trauma and difficulties of coming out. Research shows that transgender children are at greater risk for developing eating disorders than their cisgender peers (individuals whose gender identity and gender expression match the sex they were assigned at birth). In this article, we will discuss body image issues in the transgender community, why transgender individuals are more likely to develop an eating disorder, how transgender people may experience limited treatment options, and how we can help.

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

Tips for Navigating the Holiday Season in Recovery

With the abundance of food, having to eat in front of others, and navigating difficult familial relationships, the holiday season can be immensely difficult for anyone living or recovering from an eating disorder. This year’s holiday season presents new challenges, as it is possible that you have not seen your family members for a longer period of time than usual. After what was another emotional and isolating year for many, our bodies may feel or be different for a variety of reasons, including major changes in lifestyle, as well as anxiety. 

According to Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist and Certified Dietitian Hilmar Wagner, there are four key aspects of successfully surviving the holiday season while in eating disorder recovery. His method for a successful holiday is called P.R.E.P., and we will delve into each step of preparation he has outlined in our article below.

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Halloween Pumpkins

Halloween with an Eating Disorder Can Be Scary

Along with cozy sweaters and pumpkin patches, fall also brings Halloween, which, like many other holidays, can be triggering for individuals struggling with an eating disorder. Food that is considered by diet culture to be “bad,” like candy and cookies, are often a huge part of celebrations, and choosing a costume may be fraught with body image concerns and the pressure to look a certain way.

In this post, we’ll discuss why Halloween can be difficult for anyone actively coping with an eating disorder as well as those in recovery. We’ll also cover how to navigate those anxious feelings and how to find alternative ways to enjoy the holiday if you’re not feeling up to traditional activities.

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A woman in a larger body sitting on her balcony with a book and a glass of wine

Weight Stigma and Weight-Based Bullying

We are completely entrenched in diet culture, a society obsessed with thinness and dieting. Weight and food bias are so commonplace, contributing to our thoughts and actions in ways that they are hard to even recognize. No one is immune to these biases, and if they’re left unchecked, they can manifest in interactions that play a part in the development of an eating disorder.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, an awareness event created to prevent childhood bullying and promote kindness, acceptance, and inclusion. The best-known environmental contributor to the development of eating disorders may be the sociocultural idealization of thinness, but weight-based bullying or even just appearance-based comments is another important environmental contributor. In this article, we will cover weight stigma and weight-based bullying, their impact, and what we can do to make a difference. 

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A medical provider conversing with a patient

The Importance of Screening for Eating Disorders

Oftentimes, primary providers are the first line of defense against eating disorders. They can be the first to notice the early signs and discover an eating disorder since they see their patients regularly. Identifying these symptoms can help interrupt these mental disorders from developing further. 

With October being National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month, it is important to focus on mental health education and share why and how to screen for eating disorders and other mental health conditions. In this article, we will discuss the importance of early screening and detection, the warning signs of eating disorders, and what to ask your patients when conducting screenings. 

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A parent and a child sitting together on a bed

How to Help Children Develop Positive Body Image

While the United States is making strides in eating disorder representation, education, and advocacy, there is still so much work to be done. Educating ourselves on eating disorders is essential in spotting the signs in ourselves and in others. Because of this, it is of the utmost importance that parents understand the environmental risks for eating disorders in their children, including the unrealistic body ideals that are often pushed in the media. 

There are three factors that contribute to an individual getting an eating disorder: biological, psychological, and environmental. Although environmental factors are not the only factors contributing to the development of an eating disorder, it is one type we can protect against. While we cannot shield our children from the negative messages they may receive or the impossible beauty standards idealized in our culture, we can create a home environment that includes education on eating disorders, the celebration of body diversity, and praising each other for our traits and our accomplishments unrelated to appearance. Below are five ways to help protect the next generation against the environmental factors that contribute to eating disorders.

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Woman in a larger body shopping in a clothing store

The Challenges of Clothes Shopping in a Larger Body

Clothes shopping in eating disorder recovery is tough. Eating disorders are frequently accompanied by negative body image, including general body dissatisfaction, body image distortion, overvaluation of weight and shape, excessive body comparisons, and body checking behaviors. The negative body image that is often paired with eating disorders can naturally make clothes shopping difficult. The challenges of shopping can be compounded for those shopping for clothes labeled as “plus-size” by the fashion industry, as our society is often not as accommodating to people in larger bodies.

Although there are many people in larger bodies who are on a journey to body acceptance, not everyone is at the same point in their journey and very few journeys are a straight line. Therefore, shopping in a culture with weight bias and stigma is not always an easy task, no matter how far you’ve come in your recovery journey. One step toward embracing body acceptance is to be aware of the challenges of clothes shopping in recovery and to identify strategies for navigating the task.

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Eating Disorders in Latinxs: Lessons Learned From History

The 10th Annual Veritas Collaborative Symposium on Eating Disorders, co-hosted by The Emily Program, will unite healthcare professionals and eating disorder experts around this year’s theme, “Engaging Science, Unifying Voices, and Transforming Access.” In this article, Mae Lynn Reyes-Rodríguez, PhD, FAED, a speaker at this year’s Symposium, discusses the prevalence of eating disorders in the Latino population and underscores the need for culturally competent care.

Eating disorders do not discriminate based on race or ethnicity. Actually, data from different national studies have shown that eating disorders in the Latino population are at similar or higher prevalence when compared with non-Latino Whites (Alegria et al., 2007; Marques et al., 2011; Udo & Grilo, 2018). However, due to the historical emphasis around European White females in the eating disorder field, most of the assessments and treatments have been developed and tested with and for this population. This is problematic because it has contributed to clinician bias and stigma, which are some of the barriers preventing Latinas to seek treatment for eating disorders (Reyes-Rodríguez et al., 2013). Moreover, the research about service utilization among individuals with a history of eating disorders reveals that Latinxs with bulimia nervosa (BN) and binge eating disorder (BED) are less likely to seek treatment when compared with non-Latino Whites (Coffino, Udo, & Grilo, 2019; Marques et al., 2011). This health disparity is concerning because BN and BED are the most prevalent eating disorders in this population (Perez, Ohrt, & Hoek, 2016). Other factors such as lack of health insurance, lack of bilingual services, and lack of information about services can be associated with this underutilization of services (Ali et al., 2017; Reyes-Rodríguez, 2013). The long history of misconception and negligence has negatively affected the early detection, prevention, and treatment for eating disorders in the Latino population.

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Kathryn

Episode 59: Choosing Recovery with Kathryn

Episode description: 

​​Kathryn is a 31-year-old woman who enjoys cooking, hosting friends, teaching music, and getting lost in nature. Best known for her big heart and passion for life, she lives in a larger body and advocates for people to take up more space. Kathryn joins us in this episode of Peace Meal to share her eating disorder story, including how living in a larger body has impacted her recovery. 

For over 20 years, food was the center of Kathryn’s life. She kept trying to figure out what was happening on her own, blaming herself for her struggles. After talking with the people closest to her, she decided to seek help even though she didn’t have a lot of hope that anything would work. 

As soon as Kathryn reached out for help, however, she says it felt like a “warm hug.” In speaking with an eating disorder specialist, she discovered that she did, in fact, have an illness. It was not her fault. While she experienced many barriers throughout her recovery living in a larger body, she grew to learn that all food is good food and that you should take up as much space as you need. With the support of her treatment team, friends, and family, she learned how to take care of herself, live as the most authentic version of herself, and make sure all her needs are met.

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