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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 35: Binge Eating Disorder at Midlife with Teresa Schmitz

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Episode description:

Teresa Schmitz is the powerhouse coach behind mybestselfyet.com, a website and blog recently launched to help others define and become their best selves. She discovered her own best self while in recovery from a midlife eating disorder.

Teresa joins us in this episode of Peace Meal to share her eating disorder experience, including the personal, professional, and age-related factors that complicated her relationship with food. She tells us how providers have focused on weight throughout her life, encouraging various diets and appetite suppressants with the sole aim of weight loss. Then, Teresa says, a diagnosis of binge eating disorder finally connected her to meaningful care and community support. Eating disorder recovery has helped her redefine her relationship with food and her body, nurture her sense of self outside of career accolades, and restore her physical, emotional, and mental health.

Learn more about Teresa on her website and connect with her on Instagram.

Learn more about The Emily Program online or by calling 1-888-364-5977.

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Ask an Expert: Questions About Eating Disorders and Recovery

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Can you be born with an eating disorder?

While research does show a strong genetic component to these mental illnesses, there is not a single “eating disorder gene” detectable at birth or otherwise. Instead, it is believed that some people are born with a genetic predisposition to eating disorder development. That is, they are born with specific personality and psychological traits that make them particularly vulnerable to developing an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Perfectionism, rigidity, neuroticism, and cautiousness are among the aspects of personality that have been associated with a higher risk of eating disorders. The presence of these traits doesn’t necessarily cause an eating disorder, however; they can and do exist in people without these disorders as well.

There is more to these biopsychosocial illnesses than biology and psychology. A saying used in many illness contexts, “genetics loads the gun, and environment pulls the trigger,” is also sometimes used to describe the etiological role of social factors in eating disorders. Sociocultural influences including family, peers, and media interact with genetics in complex ways to trigger the onset of an eating disorder. Though we cannot change the genetic component, we can challenge our culture’s obsession with diet, weight, and appearance to offset these social risk factors.

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Recovery Conversations: A Q&A with Olivia M.

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**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. In this post, Olivia M. opens up about seeking help and staying motivated, the resources helpful to her healing, and advice for others in recovery.

When and why did you decide to seek help for your eating disorder?

I knew I needed help when it became clear to me that my eating disorder was affecting more than just me. For a long time, the selfish part of the eating disorder had me believing that I really wasn’t hurting anyone or that I was only hurting myself. I honestly didn’t understand why my parents and friends were so concerned about what I ate and wished that they would just leave me alone. Sometimes I even thought that they were jealous or something, so that shows how powerful an eating disorder can be. But the longer it went on, there were more moments when I sensed that my parents were not angry or annoyed with me but actually sad and worried that my health was going to get worse. I didn’t want to hurt them, and that was a big motivator early in my recovery.

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“We Can’t Just ‘Quit’ Food”—and Why That’s Okay

A woman in a home kitchen with a plate of food

When eating disorder recovery is compared to substance use recovery, a sharp distinction is often drawn: You can’t quit or give up food, vowing to never touch it again. You can’t cold-turkey it with a pledge of sobriety.

That is to say, the human body doesn’t need alcohol or drugs in the way it needs food. Eating disorder or not, we all need food to survive. It’s one of the few can’t-live-without, most basic human needs. And those recovering from eating disorders need it, too, to heal from their mental illnesses. No matter your restricting, bingeing, or purging history, you do need to eat.

Eating is integral to the process of eating disorder recovery in ways that drinking or using are not part of substance recovery. To assume that recovery would be easier if this were not the case is, of course, an inaccurate oversimplification of the complexity of issues with alcohol and drugs, but the analogy does underscore a reality specific to eating disorder recovery: You face food every day, multiple times per day. You sit in the discomfort of eating a portion right for you, then the discomfort that often follows, then the discomfort that may come with knowing you will do it again. Soon.

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Episode 34: The Role of Yoga in Eating Disorder Recovery with Lisa Wingårdh

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Episode description:

Lisa Wingårdh is a yoga teacher based in Stockholm, Sweden. Fully devoted to helping others reconnect with their body and breath, she is especially passionate about eating disorder recovery given her personal experience with anorexia and bulimia.

In this episode of Peace Meal, we discuss the role of yoga in eating disorder treatment and recovery. Lisa shares her journey to discovering yoga and describes the ways it has nurtured her body, mind, and soul. Speaking from experience and training, she explains the benefits of yoga to those healing from eating disorders as well as reasons people might find the practice intimidating or challenging. She also offers gentle advice for making sure our yoga practice remains self-compassionate and customized to our own needs and lives.

Learn more about Lisa on her website, wingardhwellness.com, and find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube.

Learn more about The Emily Program online or by calling 1-888-364-5977.

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A Letter to College Students and Others in Eating Disorder Recovery

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By Shannon Brault

As we enter the hot summer days where there is still a virus keeping us from having a “normal” summer, some are preparing to (hopefully) be on campus in the fall either starting or continuing their college careers. While there is so much to learn and everyone is experiencing this time differently, there is no doubt that being in recovery from an eating disorder can make these times extra difficult and lonely. 

Starting college (or any new chapter of your life) can also be extra difficult living with or being in recovery from an eating disorder. You could be away from everything you’re used to and feel out of place in this new environment. It may feel easy to fall back into symptom use when you get stressed, lonely, or overwhelmed, but there are things you can do to be proactive and stick to your recovery. 

Starting college or any new chapter of your life can be scary, lonely, and exciting all at once. Whether you’re going to college, starting a new chapter of your life, or continuing life once this virus lifts, here are some things you can do to help aid your recovery. Recovery can be difficult and requires your full attention sometimes. While it can be difficult, it is possible and it is crucial in order for life to be the way it should be, with food as fuel for your body and not an enemy.

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