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Posts Tagged “Eating Disorder Recovery”

February 27, 2024

Is It Time to Seek Help? 5 Behaviors That Could Indicate an Eating Disorder

You’ve started dodging dinner plans because you’re worried your friends might notice that your eating habits have changed. 

You’ve become hyper-fixated on your body and started working out early every morning to “make up” for the previous day’s eating.

You’ve noticed that your ever-dwindling list of “safe” foods is making it hard to eat a nutritionally balanced diet.

If you see yourself in any of the above behaviors, it may indicate that you’re struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are characterized by a disturbance in an individual’s eating and food behaviors or self-perception. These complex, biologically based illnesses are influenced by environmental, social, and psychological factors. Unfortunately, they are not uncommon, with nearly 30 million Americans experiencing an eating disorder in their lifetime. Knowing the signs of an eating disorder can help you catch it early and get you the help you need. 

January 25, 2024

The Role of Body Positivity in Eating Disorder Treatment & Recovery

Our relationships with our bodies are deeply personal, constantly shifting and evolving throughout our lifetimes. If you have lived experience with body image concerns, disordered eating, or an eating disorder, adopting a positive (or even neutral) mindset about your body can feel like an unrealistic—if not altogether impossible—task.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), body image disturbances are core clinical characteristics of many eating disorders. In fact, research consistently shows that body image distortion is the strongest psychosocial predictor of eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors. However, we know each eating disorder experience is unique, and as such, not everyone with an eating disorder may experience body image issues. For example, the food disturbances we see among those with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) are not motivated by distorted body image or body dissatisfaction.

A primary goal of eating disorder treatment is reaching a place of body appreciation and respect. While there’s no single “best” approach to improving body image, cultivating body positivity can play a powerful role in facilitating eating disorder treatment and lasting recovery. Through awareness and active practice, those in recovery can experience a new, more accepting relationship with their bodies.

January 8, 2024

5 Recovery Lessons From 5 Years of Peace Meal

Our Peace Meal podcast is five years old! Since January 2019, we’ve had the honor of sharing personal stories and expert insights that inform, inspire, and support listeners on the journey to eating disorder recovery. Join us in marking this milestone by reflecting on key takeaways from five years of episodes. Hold these lessons close as you, your loved one, or your patient navigate the path toward healing.

January 3, 2024

A Non-Diet Approach to New Year’s Resolutions

It’s the start of a fresh new year, which, for many, signals the kick-off of “resolutions season.” There is nothing fundamentally wrong with using the turn of the calendar as an opportunity for self-reflection and goal-setting. However, if your intentions for 2024 hinge on diet and weight loss, they’re likely to do more harm than good. 

Despite the aggressive push of January weight loss and fitness ads, your body is not a “project” to be fixed, and your health is about so much more than a number on the scale or an arbitrary appearance goal. Diet culture resolutions are incredibly problematic, especially for those struggling with, recovering from, or susceptible to developing an eating disorder. Dieting is a key risk factor for eating disorders and interferes with the process of developing a healthy relationship with food. What’s more, when striving for an unattainable state (weight loss diets are designed to fail), feelings of guilt, shame, and inadequacy aren’t far behind.

If you want to adopt a New Year’s resolution, we encourage you to examine your motivations and set your goal with your recovery in mind. Spend some time identifying what’s truly important to you (e.g., learning a new skill, growing your self-confidence, practicing gratitude, making more time for rest, etc.), and disassociate any potential resolutions from weight loss or body size. Use the examples in this blog to inspire your own resolution-setting. Note that some of these suggestions may not be appropriate for everyone; please work with your recovery team or modify the examples to suit your unique recovery needs.

December 7, 2023

Happier Holidays: How to Be a Recovery Ally this Season

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 89: Finding Direction in Recovery with Taylor Humphrey

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.

November 14, 2023

Post-Treatment: Maintaining Progress and Preventing Relapse in Eating Disorders

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 88: Seeking Help for a Child’s Eating Disorder with Aronson Kagiliery

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

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.

October 25, 2023

The Power of Group Therapy in PHP/IOP Treatment

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

Misery Loves Company

**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 5, 2023

Techniques For Overcoming Eating Disorder Recovery Challenges – Veritas Collaborative

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

Episode 87: The Importance of Individualizing Care with Madison Hanson

**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 18, 2023

Triangle Outpatient Center Now Open in Durham, North Carolina

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 11, 2023

Episode 86: Attachment Styles and Eating Disorders with Kathryn Garland and Vanessa Scaringi

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

Yoga and Mindfulness: Their Role in Eating Disorder Recovery – Veritas Collaborative

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

Virtual Outpatient Services Now in South Carolina

We are excited to announce that Veritas Collaborative is now accepting patients for virtual outpatient therapy in South Carolina! With this expansion to South Carolina, we’ll increase access to specialty eating disorder treatment in the Southeast, ensuring that more people who need care can receive it. Virtual eating disorder treatment in South Carolina is available for children, adolescents, and adults of any gender.

Virtual therapy sessions take place via a secure video connection and provide the same structure and support as traditional in-person treatment. Virtual eating disorder treatment also offers flexibility to those who live far from one of our treatment centers or require a treatment option that fits into their busy schedules. Outpatient care is ideal for those who are medically stable but in need of ongoing support for their eating disorder for lasting recovery.

August 29, 2023

What Is the Best Treatment for ARFID?

It’s not unusual to experience some selectiveness around food. Many people have allergies that limit their food choices, others are naturally drawn to certain flavors or textures, and most of us likely demonstrated a degree of pickiness in childhood.

But what happens when these food preferences begin to erode your quality of life? When eating becomes increasingly narrowed in food variety and/or restrictiveness of overall intake that it leads to weight loss or unmet growth expectations, nutritional deficiencies, dependence on caloric supplements or tube feeding, and/or marked interference with psychosocial functioning, it could indicate the presence of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID).

Misconceptions and insufficient research on ARFID can make it difficult for those struggling to find appropriate, supportive care. ARFID is a serious mental illness—it’s not just “picky eating,” a passing “phase,” or a choice, and it needs timely, specialized, evidence-based treatment that effectively addresses its unique considerations.

August 24, 2023

How to Support Your Child Returning to School with an Eating Disorder

You’ve braved the back-to-school aisles of your local retailer, reviewed your child’s class and activities schedule, established a transportation plan, and helped select a perfect first-day-of-class outfit. Whether school is already back in session for your family or your household is buzzing with first-day jitters, navigating back to school means working with your child to set them up for a successful school year.

If your child is navigating this school year with an eating disorder, how you define “success” won’t be limited to their academic performance. Rather, success means preserving their recovery during the transition into a new school year.

This season brings to the forefront the influence of body image and eating triggers distinct to the school environment. While it’s not uncommon for eating disorder behaviors to be triggered or worsened by periods of transition, your support and preparation as a parent can make all the difference in ensuring this school year is one that centers your child’s recovery.

August 17, 2023

Disentangling from the Eating Disorder Identity

**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.

Isadora G. (she/her) is a recent graduate of the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she studied psychology and sociology. During her senior year, she worked at an all-female residential mental health facility, which solidified her passion for working in mental health care. She is a recovery peer mentor for ANAD and has been in eating disorder recovery for over three years.