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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!

Episode 56: The Healing Power of Horses with Lisa Whalen

Lisa Whalen

Episode description:

Lisa Whalen, PhD, is the author of Stable Weight: A Memoir of Horses, Hunger, and Hope. Her writing has also appeared in An Introvert in an Extrovert World, The Simpsons’ Beloved Springfield, Introvert, Dear, and Adanna, among other publications. Lisa teaches writing and literature at North Hennepin Community College and is an equestrian and volunteer for the Animal Humane Society.

In this episode of Peace Meal, Lisa describes two key components of her eating disorder recovery: writing and horseback riding. Underscoring the multifaceted nature of the healing process, she reflects on how writing and riding each offered unique lessons for her mind and body. Writing, she explains, supported and extended her therapy lessons, while riding provided a space to put the lessons into practice. Lisa introduces us to a few of the horses that served as mentors throughout her recovery, highlighting the lessons they could teach us all about staying present, taking up space, and being imperfect. She then translates how these and other recovery “nuggets”—the wisdom learned from horses, writing, and therapy—continue to serve her life and career.

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Outgrowing Ed’s Clothes

Teresa Schmitz with shirt that says Beautiful Capable Worthy

**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.

While navigating her own recovery journey at The Emily Program, Teresa Schmitz discovered a hidden gift in being known as a great listener with a compassionate heart. Being earmarked as an IT Leader who was more into the people on her teams than the technology they were building, she realized her purpose was beyond her title. She connected the dots and soon realized her purpose was to help empower others. She pursued her dreams of becoming a coach and launched her own coaching business, My Best Self Yet.  She now helps women feel empowered to navigate the journey of loving themselves unconditionally. She also empowers others to know and use their character strengths in the In It Together group coaching program. Learn more about Teresa’s story and follow My Best Self Yet on FacebookInstagram, and her blog.

Self-love journeys are not easy. They cause you to reflect on your beliefs and challenge what society has taught you about your worth and your body.

About three months into my own self-love journey, I spent a few hours doing something that challenged some deeply rooted beliefs. As homework in between my weekly sessions, my therapist suggested that I part with clothes that no longer fit me. She told me it would set me free. I didn’t realize how emotional this would be when I decided to do it one Saturday afternoon.

I went through my closet and gathered up clothes that I’d been shaming myself with. These clothes had fit me only months before when I was on an appetite suppressant that resulted in weight loss. But they no longer fit me now. Former diet plans taught me to keep these clothes as a reminder of what I once could fit into and should aim to return to. Shaming was an everyday approach to getting into those clothes again (along with the next best diet). I thought it was what you did to love yourself. You kept the smaller clothes as a reminder, and you quickly got rid of ones that became too big. I spent hundreds of dollars on clothes in a short period of time. How could I part with the clothes I bought at a “normal”-size women’s clothing store? I thought.

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Staff Spotlight, Jenna Schuder

Staff spotlight, Jenna Schuder

Tell us about yourself!

Hi! I’m Jenna Schuder and I am a dietitian at The Emily Program’s St. Louis Park location in Minnesota. I am the program RD for the adult intensive outpatient program (IOP), I see clients in outpatient (OP), and I recently became Clinical Manager. I was first a dietetic intern through the University of MN-TEP internship and have now been employed at TEP for five years.

Describe the path that led you to The Emily Program. 

The path leading me to The Emily Program has been an adventurous one! My undergraduate degree is in social work and housing studies. After college, I joined AmeriCorps for two years before deciding to go back to school for nutrition and public health. I pursued an undergraduate degree in nutrition and a graduate degree in public health. It was during my dietetic internship that my passion for eating disorders was sparked. I’ve always been drawn to relationship building and helping professions, so when I did a rotation at TEP it felt like I had finally found the career that encompassed all my passions.

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Navigating the Pressures of Swimsuit Season

A group of friends at the beach

Swimsuit season. Beach body. Bikini ready.

The terms are thrown around casually every summer. In regular conversation, on social media, and via media and advertising, we’re hit with messages that suggest we must prepare and perfect our bodies before changing into warm-weather clothing. “Get ready” for the summer, the messages say, by getting your body “ready.” “Follow this workout, stick to that diet plan, and you’ll look and feel your best!” The noise is hard to escape.

This summer, we’re confronted by messages not only about “beach bodies,” but about “post-pandemic bodies” as well. We hear and see chatter about getting our “pre-pandemic bodies” back. Diet and exercise routines are sold as a way to “fix” any COVID-related body changes or to make up for the pandemic time we “should’” have spent fixing our bodies. Amid this noise, we may also feel anxiety about others seeing us in person again, fearing body judgment or commentary. 

Combine the “summer body” pressure with the “post-pandemic body” pressure, and it’s no wonder that this summer is a challenging time for those experiencing body image concerns, disordered eating, and eating disorders. But while Summer 2021 is a unique time to reenter and reconnect with the world and our loved ones, we actually don’t need to change our bodies at all to do it.

In this article, Dr. Jillian Lampert, Chief Strategy Officer of The Emily Program and Veritas Collaborative, helps us explore how we can all practice self-compassion this “swimsuit season” and help our loved ones do the same.

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Episode 55: Eating Disorders in Fiction with Emily Layden

Emily Layden

Episode description:

Emily Layden is a writer and former high school English teacher from upstate New York. A graduate of Stanford University, her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Marie Claire, The Billfold, and Runner’s World. She joins us in this episode of Peace Meal to discuss her debut novel All Girls. We explore the depiction of disordered eating and anxiety in the book and society more generally, using Emily’s experience with the co-occurring concerns as context along the way. 

We center our conversation on one of the characters of All Girls, Macy, who struggles with clinical anxiety and an eating disorder resembling ARFID. Emily tells us about her decision to write Macy as she did, eschewing graphic descriptions of behaviors to highlight Macy’s anxious thoughts instead. She describes what she hopes All Girls adds to the larger conversation about eating disorders and the adolescent females among whom eating disorders are particularly prevalent. Emphasizing the importance of taking both eating disorders and young women more seriously, we explore how society tends to think similarly of both.

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Physical Effects of ARFID

A parent supporting a child

What is ARFID?

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is an eating disorder characterized by food avoidance or restriction that results in nutritional deficiencies and interferes with daily functioning. As in anorexia, ARFID can lead to significant weight loss or a failure to gain weight. It does not include concerns about body weight and shape, however. Instead, ARFID primarily manifests as avoidance related to the sensory properties of food and fear about eating.

Previously known as selective eating disorder (SED), ARFID was introduced in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The following criteria must be met for an individual to be diagnosed with this eating disorder:

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