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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!

Why Do Others Still “Get” to Diet? – On Missing Dieting in Eating Disorder Recovery

A group of friends sharing a meal

Why do they “get” to drink that, we wonder as our friend gulps the Diet Coke in their hand, a glass of milk in ours. And why is it “okay” for them to order from the “Lighter Fare” menu? 

Why are my parents “allowed” to pack their carts with reduced-fat groceries and my sister to stick to sugar-free candy? Why can’t I skip the butter cube at dinner or pass on the dessert brownie?

It is normal to miss dieting in recovery, just as we can miss our eating disorders. And it is difficult, especially early on, to witness the dieting still going on around us. We might feel jealous, frustrated, or annoyed by it. We may feel that others’ dieting is something being done to us, like salt in a wound we are trying to heal.

Why do others still “get” to diet while we don’t? Why do we “have” to make another choice? Why might all of this bother us so much?

The questions are worth asking.

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Recovery Conversations: A Q&A with Shannon

A person in glasses smiling at the camera

**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.

Recovery Conversations is a question-and-answer series that shares voices and stories of eating disorder recovery. Shannon, a woman in recovery, opens up here about the recovery process and the resources, support, and self-care activities she has found helpful.

How would you describe recovery to someone currently struggling with an eating disorder?

It’s true when they say that it is REALLY hard. It is exhausting, uncomfortable, and might even be painful sometimes. Sometimes you might wonder if it is really better than life in your eating disorder, and you might miss your eating disorder. This is all normal. It is NOT a sign that you’re not cut out for recovery. If you could survive your eating disorder, you can survive recovery and experience not just the tiring, hard moments but the little glimpses of freedom that you get along the way.

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Episode 36: Eating Disorder Recovery as a Non-Binary Person with Debbie Seacrest

A person looking out into the ocean

Episode description:

Debbie Seacrest, Ph.D. is a non-binary math professor who is passionate about advocating for mental health and showing that eating disorders affect a variety of people.

In this episode of Peace Meal, Debbie speaks to their eating disorder experience as a non-binary person. They share how negative body image in early childhood morphed into anorexia in adolescence, and how body image continued to be relevant to their gender journey and eating disorder recovery. Crediting karate, self-advocacy, and social connection as important tools in recovering from their anorexia, they reflect on the progress they’ve made and offer strategies for others suffering. They also share how the eating disorder community can be more gender-affirming and competent in the language we use and services we provide—a generous and important contribution given the disproportionate rates of eating disorders among trans and/or non-binary people.

Connect with Debbie via email at debbie.seacrest@gmail.com.

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Crohn’s, Colitis, and Eating Disorders

A person experiencing stomach pain

We in the eating disorder field are generally wary of restriction. Dieting is a key risk factor in the development of eating disorders, and eliminating it and other disordered behaviors is central to healing. One of the biggest gifts of recovery is the opposite of restriction: a life where food is just food, and all foods fit.

Even so, “all foods fit” does not necessarily mean that all foods fit for all people at all times. Like any pithy “all” statement, this generalization does not represent any unique considerations. For those with special dietary restrictions, all foods quite literally do not fit. For those with allergies and intolerances, some foods are forever off-limits, and those with conditions like type 1 diabetes or celiac disease need to closely monitor ingredients to avoid triggering their physical illness.

Similarly, gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) often require dietary restriction as part of their treatment. The relationship with food is especially complicated for people in this situation. IBD symptoms can overlap and interact with eating disorder ones, and there is no one nutritional plan proven to work for all of those suffering.

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Supporting a Child with an Eating Disorder in Uncertain Times

A mother and daughter sitting on a couch

Uncertainty is still all around us.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to raise questions over our finances, jobs, schools, and, of course, our health and the health of those we love. So much remains unknown.

During this long coronavirus blur, eating disorders have not gone away. Far from it. We may have shut down parts of our lives, but eating disorders have not loosened their grip. For some, the pandemic has only exacerbated issues with food and body. For others, it has introduced them, and for others still, it has complicated the already tough, circuitous process of recovering from an eating disorder.

Navigating a child’s eating disorder as a parent can be painful, confusing, and frustrating in the best of times. It’s demanding and it’s stressful. And in a trying year of tremendous turmoil, loss, and unpredictability? It may feel impossible. How can you support your child when racked with fear and anxiety yourself? How do you encourage healing in a world seemingly still so sick? How do you make any decisions or plans when the future is so unknown?

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Gaining a Life: A Q&A with Emily Formea

Emily Formea

**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, or symptom use. Please use your own discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

Emily Formea is a writer and coach passionate about eating disorder recovery, food freedom, and self-love. She is the author of Gaining a Life: The Untold Story of My Eating Disorder & Recovery and the host of the To The Girl podcast. To learn more about Emily, visit her website and find her on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

Here Emily tells us about her memoir, Gaining a Life, and the gifts of eating disorder recovery to which its title alludes, and shares with us one of her favorite excerpts.

Tell us about Gaining a Life!

I wrote Gaining a Life only four months ago and it has probably been one of the greatest achievements of my life! As someone who recovered from her own eating disorder of 10 years, I wanted to showcase that it was not only possible to recover, but also WORTH it! As a blogger and online influencer around eating disorder recovery, I hear daily how so many people want to desperately recover from their eating disorders! They want to stop struggling with food or their bodies! They want to eat freely and stop thinking about or worrying about their plates, BUT… and it’s always a big ‘but’ because it was the same for me for a decade…. BUT they don’t want to gain weight. They don’t want to have their body change at all! They want to leave their eating disorders behind, but they don’t want to leave their control behind with it. They don’t want to accept that they may gain weight, their bodies may change, that they may not know how long their recovery will last, etc. and that was the exact reason I wrote my book! 

Sure, I gained weight, but I also gained an entire LIFE! My book is split into three parts. The first half of the book is very vulnerable. It’s me detailing my true decade- long struggle with food to you. I wanted my reader to understand how bad I was with food and my body image to make them feel not so alone, to make them realize that if I could recover, so could they! And to make them aware of how my eating disorder affected my ENTIRE life, not just my body or my diet, I wanted the reader to really know about my background to connect us more! Then, moving into the second half of the book, it is all about how I healed! How I did recover, the process, the pain, the abundant joy, etc.! I explain how I chose to live my life off the scales and calorie-counting apps and how THEY can do the same!! The final few pages are actual exercises to help the reader shift their mindset around food, their body, control, perfectionism, and more to make recovery tangible and long-lasting!

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