Archive for August, 2019

Staff Spotlight, Kate Opichka

Kate Opichka

TEP: Tell us about yourself!

Kate: I am an outpatient dietitian and adolescent IOP program dietitian at The Emily Program’s Saint Louis Park location.  Outside of The Emily Program, I like to be outdoors: walking, biking, or being on the lake.  I also enjoy traveling, trying out new restaurants and new foods, and hanging out with my parents’ dog, Wookiee.

TEP: What is the best part of your job?

Kate: My favorite part of my job is being able to see people’s progress and reclaim values (and foods) the eating disorder has taken away.  I’m lucky enough to not only see my clients in IOP but to continue to work with some of them in an OP setting once they graduate from IOP.

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Disordered Eating vs. Eating Disorders: What’s the Tipping Point?

young man looking out a window

Eating disorders are hard to spot, especially when disordered eating behaviors are extremely common. From the prevalence of dieting to the glorification of excessive exercise, it can be tricky to understand when disordered behaviors spiral into a full-blown eating disorder.

What is Disordered Eating?

Disordered eating includes unhealthy food and body behaviors, usually undertaken for the purpose of weight loss or health promotion, but that may put the person at risk for significant harm.  Disordered eating is serious and can lead to severe complications in one’s life, so it is important to stay vigilant of the warning signs and symptoms. Unfortunately, disordered eating is extremely common due to the normalization of many disordered behaviors in primarily Western cultures. Common examples of disordered eating include:

  • Fad diets
  • Cleanses
  • Heightened focus on appearance
  • Skipping meals
  • Supplement misuse
  • Diet pills
  • Extreme social media focused on appearance or food
  • Undereating or overeating

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Living the College Life: Tips for Maintaining Healthy Eating Habits

Students taking notes

Whether you have struggled with an eating disorder or not, going away to school can present challenges in maintaining a healthy, balanced eating pattern. Below are some tips to consider as you settle into the collegiate lifestyle.

Maintain a consistent eating pattern

We know from both research and clinical experience that maintaining a consistent 3-meals-plus-snacks pattern decreases eating disorder tendencies (1). It also ensures that your body is receiving the energy and nutrition needed to support the life of a busy college student. Remember, you are feeding both your brain and your body.

Mind your macros

College cafeterias can open up almost endless food choices. Remember what your meal plan emphasized, balance your meal with foods that provide protein, fats and carbohydrates. Avoid falling into diet fads that restrict one food group or another. A balanced meal provides balanced energy and satisfaction, which prevents feeling overly full or being hungry again quickly.

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Anna Westin House West Open House 

Mayor Frey, Dirk Miller, Kitty Westin, and Jillian Lampert

The Emily Program hosted an open house last week to celebrate the opening of the Anna Westin House West—the first residential eating disorder treatment facility in Minneapolis. The Emily Program has expanded residential programming in the Twin Cities as part of its ongoing commitment to offering comprehensive, effective treatment for eating disorders. The 16-bed residential program will provide structured, evidence-based care for older adolescents and younger adults who are in need of highly intensive eating disorder treatment. The first clients will be welcomed on September 9th.

In alignment with The Emily Program’s other residential facilities, the Anna Westin House West will provide around-the-clock intervention aimed at lessening eating disorder behaviors, while restoring the medical and nutritional stability of clients. In this safe and supportive environment, clients can expect individual and group therapy, medical monitoring, psychiatric and nutrition services, and 24-hour nursing to be a part of their treatment plan. By providing comprehensive care at the residential level that steps down into less intensive programming, The Emily Program walks alongside clients for their entire recovery journey. 

At the open house, Minneapolis Mayor Frey led a ribbon-cutting ceremony alongside The Emily Program staff. Kitty Westin, whose daughter is the namesake of the Anna Westin House West, expressed how meaningful the site was to her family, and Emily Program founder Dirk Miller and Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Jillian Lampert spoke about the mission of The Emily Program and its goals for the future. Attendees of the open house were able to tour the Anna Westin House West, connect with local community members, meet Emily Program providers, and enjoy refreshments.

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Episode 15: Hannah’s Recovery Story

Hannah Johnson

Episode description:

Peace Meal’s Recovery Series aims to share stories of those in eating disorder recovery in hopes of starting conversations, breaking stigmas, and encouraging healing. On today’s episode, we talk to Hannah Johnson. Hannah developed anorexia during high school and found that it was exacerbated by society and stress. Hannah shares her recovery story and words of wisdom to those currently in treatment.

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Can how we were Raised Contribute to Developing an Eating Disorder?

Parents holding toddler's hand

Eating disorders are complex and serious illnesses that can cause serious harm to the individual afflicted. Characterized by a disturbance in an individual’s self-perception and food behaviors, eating disorders are biologically-based brain illnesses that are affected by environmental, cultural, and psychological factors. A key aspect of eating disorders is their complexity and the questions surrounding them—what caused my eating disorder? Will I get better? Do other people experience this?

Environmental Factors

There are certain environmental factors that may contribute to the development of an eating disorder including diet culture, the media, and peer judgment. Diet culture is a series of beliefs that idolize thinness and equate it to health and wellbeing. Diet culture manifests in less obvious ways, too, and can be seen in the way that menus portray “healthy” options as superior or how the typical chair size is made for someone thin. These diet culture consequences can plant the idea, at a young age, that thinner is “normal” and something to strive for, which can lead to disordered eating later in life.

The media is largely problematic in its portrayal of the idea that thin is superior. From the majority of celebrities and actors being thin to weight-centric TV shows like “Biggest Loser,” it’s no surprise that society gets the message that skinny is better. This media messaging infiltrates daily lives. There’s billboards of new diets, commercials promoting gym memberships to get you in beach body shape, and reality TV featuring only the thinnest of stars. When faced with this negative messaging daily, individuals can feel intense pressure to “fit in,” leading to dieting, appearance dissatisfaction, and eating disorders.

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