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There’s Help. There’s Hope! The Emily Program is a warm and welcoming place where individuals and their families can find comprehensive treatment for eating disorders and related issues. This blog is a place for us to share the latest happenings at The Emily Program, as well as helpful tidbits from the broader eating disorder community. Subscribe via RSS to receive automatic updates. We want to hear your story. Email us (blog@emilyprogram.com) and ask how you can become a contributor!

Poems of Recovery: A Q&A with Ananda de Jager

Ananda de Jager

**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.

Ananda de Jager is the author of Poems of Recovery, a collection that provides an intimate and honest look at her eating disorder recovery. She openly shares her thoughts and feelings about healing her relationship with herself and food in the book and on Instagram. Learn more about Ananda on her website, anandadejager.com.

In this Q&A, Ananda reflects on the healing value of writing, sharing, and reading poetry and shares excerpts from her book.

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Demystifying Eating Disorder Therapy

A therapist and client

CBT, CBT-E, DBT… Have you ever wondered what all those letters stand for and why they are so often talked about at The Emily Program and by other eating disorder professionals? If so, this is the post for you. Let’s dissect these terms, help you understand them, and explain why they are important to the work clients and clinicians do every day.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

“By correcting erroneous beliefs we can lower excessive reactions.” – Aaron Beck, M.D.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was developed by Dr. Aaron Beck in the 1960s. His work focused on how the conscious mind plays a role in how people interact with the world around them. Prior to his work, most therapeutic models focused on the unconscious mind—concepts like impulses, analyzing unconscious thoughts, conditioning, and “uncontrollable thoughts.” Dr. Beck changed mental health by introducing the belief that our thoughts are fundamental to how we interpret our experiences and consequently behave or respond. Dr. Beck and many other researchers have discovered that by identifying, monitoring, and effectively changing our thoughts, we can change or alter our maladaptive perceptions, leading to positive behavioral change.

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Episode 33: Midlife Eating Disorders with Heidi Dalzell

A headshot of a midlife woman

Episode description:

Dr. Heidi Dalzell is a licensed clinical psychologist in the greater Philadelphia area with 25 years of therapy experience. She specializes in treating eating disorders and body image concerns, especially in women at midlife.

Heidi joins us in this episode of Peace Meal to discuss midlife eating disorders. She explores the cultural, biological, and life-stage factors that make women susceptible to eating disorders at this point in life. Among them are societal appearance ideals of thinness and youthfulness, aging-related weight and shape changes, and changes in relationship roles and dynamics. Heidi explains the unique barriers midlife women face in seeking care, including shame, stigma, and lack of access to age-appropriate treatment, and then identifies how we can better serve this population. Emphasizing that recovery is possible, she encourages anyone struggling with an eating disorder to reach out for help.

Learn more about Heidi on her website, talktogrow.com, and check out her Facebook support group, Eating Disorders at Midlife.

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Coping with Video Call Anxiety

A woman sitting on a couch with a laptop in her lap

What were “unprecedented times” in March are now a “new normal.” Many of us have taken our lives almost entirely to our screens, relying on video calls for everything from work meetings to happy hours to telehealth appointments. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to touch nearly every aspect of daily life.

Though now ubiquitous, video calls are still uncomfortable for many and downright distressing for others. Those who struggle with anxiety or body image disturbance may find themselves filled with worry, dread, or self-consciousness upon clicking “Accept” to such a call. The idea or reality of being on camera can trigger distorted thoughts and urges to engage in disordered behaviors.

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Does Life in Eating Disorder Recovery Get Easier?

A person sitting outside in a yoga pose

**Content warning: This is one person’s story. Everyone will have unique experiences on their path to 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.

Sarah Granato has been teaching yoga and meditation for 14 years. She is also a doula, an author, and a mama of two. She has created The Emerge Program to help those who struggle with food, body, and eating disorders. It’s a 21-day online program with mindfulness practices, breathing techniques, mindful movement, guided meditations, writing inspirations, and more.

I struggled with food and body obsession as well as bulimia and anorexia for over two decades. I have been in several treatment facilities. They were all as helpful as I was willing to be helped, which was not very much for quite a while. As the years passed, my desperation grew. “Am I going to live the rest of my life like this?” I wondered. “What kind of life is this?” Fortunately, as that desperation expanded, my willingness did as well.

During my last inpatient treatment experience, I was introduced to a gentle mind/body/breath practice, yoga, and that was the beginning of what would be my recovery journey. I was introduced to the tools I use and teach today. It took many years of practice after being discharged, but today I am free from the obsessions and compulsions. I feel strong in body and mind and live an abundant life.

So here is the question: Does life in recovery get easier?

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Fake It Till You Make It

A child running through a sprinkler

**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.

Rachel Wilshusen is a dynamic and vibrant writer with liberal arts degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, University College London, and the University of Cambridge. After an extensive battle with anorexia, including admittance to an eating disorder center, Rachel wrote Emancipated Love Junkie to embolden others to follow her path toward recovery. Coastal runs with her husband and jumping into ocean waves are her favorite ways to spend sunny mornings in Del Mar, California. Learn more about Rachel via emailInstagram, and her website, http://rachelwilshusen.com

As a little girl in pigtails racing through sprinklers in the summertime, I knew I was enough.  I polished off ice cream sundaes with pleasure, strutted around my school’s four square court with swagger, and felt at home in my skin. Radiating my true, joyful self, I unconsciously accepted that I deserved all the goodness life has to offer.  But then puberty showed up and life got sticky.  Transferring to new schools each year as an Army kid, I found it hard to assimilate into social circles and allowed insecurities about my weight and appearance to stifle my self-worth.

One early morning, not long after starting university, I caught my naked body in a full-length dorm mirror and, with great finality, pronounced myself a fat failure unworthy of love. This false belief resulted in an extensive eating disorder as I attempted to starve myself into becoming a “perfect” woman with a “perfect” body. I optimistically hoped restricting my intake and working myself raw from sunrise to sundown would calm my anxious heart and prove myself worthy of love. Instead, I chased my tail as a constant wreck, with a tear-stained cheek often glued to various apartment floorboards as I absorbed feelings of defeat, regret, and self-loathing.

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