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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 43: Giving Voice to Eating Disorder Stories with Kiera Russo

A rocky river stream - Photo by Kiera Russo

Episode description:

Kiera Russo is a student at The University of Notre Dame, studying Film, Television, and Theatre. An eating disorder survivor, she hosts the podcast Heavier Than I Look, which aims to empower other survivors, educate listeners, and foster conversation surrounding eating disorders. By finding meaning in her own suffering, Kiera hopes to fight against the silence that eating disorders demand and to liberate others from the same demand.

In this episode of Peace Meal, Kiera shares with us her eating disorder and recovery story. She traces the beginning of her illness to the time following eighth grade. During this period of transition, stress, and anxiety, Kiera started running to prepare for her school’s track team. But, she says, “it easily and quickly turned into…a mechanism for me to control not only how many calories I would allow myself that day, but also how much weight I could possibly lose.”

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The Dangers of Dieting

Smoothie diet

Diet culture wreaks havoc all year long, compromising our joy, peace of mind, health, and trust in our bodies. And now, as in years past, it has hit its peak season. Dieting’s unfounded claims and empty promises show up with renewed energy after the holidays, as if right on schedule every year.

With the ring of the new year comes diet talk suggesting that we should “get back on track” after holiday eating or “jumpstart” the year with weight loss resolutions. Cleanses and detoxes and fasts galore, the clamor implies that we must change our bodies with the turn of the calendar. It sets an expectation that controlling our bodies will lead to happier, healthier lives via “new year, new me” goals.

But weight-loss dieting is a misguided approach to happiness and health. Not only is it ineffective for most people, but it can actually cause harm to our bodies.

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Recovery Conversations: A Q&A with Josh Person

Josh Person

**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.

Josh Person is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and brand communications consultant who has worked with a number of startup companies in the natural foods industry. In addition to his work, he believes in spreading awareness about and educating others on eating disorders and other mental health issues. Follow him on Instagram @thejoshperson.

Recovery Conversations is a question-and-answer series that shares voices and stories of eating disorder recovery. Among the many things Josh Person shares in this post are the lessons he has learned in recovery, the support and resources helpful to his healing, and the wisdom he’d give to his younger self. 

What do you wish more people knew about eating disorders?

It isn’t about looking a certain way or eating certain types and quantities of food. Rather, these are just the tangible manifestations of something so much deeper. An eating disorder is the loop of internal dialogue that cannot be turned off. The feelings of lack and unworthiness. These are emotions not easily put into words.

Another thing I think is important for people to know is that eating disorders are not the result of “bad parenting,” as parents of clients seem to think. So many are unnecessarily blaming themselves (including my own) for “causing” their child’s eating disorder, which is not the case!

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Holiday Conversation Topics That Aren’t Food, Diets, or Weight

A family sitting around a holiday meal

Navigating holiday conversations can be challenging in even the best of years. In a year of a pandemic that has dominated our lives and interactions with others, it may feel even more so.

What is there to talk about with family, friends, and acquaintances this year? How can we meaningfully engage in yet another video call, or make new conversation among our small, in-house pods?

When the goal is connection—and it often is, especially for those struggling with the isolation of an eating disorder—the topics of conversation ought to be thoughtful and appropriate.

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Recovery Conversations: A Q&A with Abigail

A person holding a sparkler in the snow

**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, Abigail lends advice to others struggling with an eating disorder and then shares how she protects her recovery and practices self-care.

What advice would you give to someone currently struggling with an eating disorder?

I don’t mean to sound corny, but I think it’s important to tell anyone struggling three things: 1) you’re not alone, 2) it’s not your fault, and 3) it won’t be this way forever. You probably feel like this is some weird problem that you’re supposed to fix on your own, but it’s actually a real disorder that millions of people have. Many professionals understand and know how to help you overcome an eating disorder. If you’re scared about living your whole life worried about food and weight, you should know that you don’t have to. You can recover with help from professionals who know how to treat these disorders.

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Episode 42: Phototherapy as a Healing Technique with Shauna Frisbie

A person viewing a photo gallery on a phone

Episode description:

Dr. Shauna Frisbie is a Licensed Professional Counselor, an approved Supervisor for Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC-S), a Certified Eating Disorders Specialist (CEDS), and a National Certified Counselor (NCC). She has taught psychology, family studies, and counseling since 2001 and is currently a Professor of Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Lubbock Christian University.

Shauna joins us in this episode of Peace Meal to discuss the value of sharing and discussing visual content in therapy. Her phototherapy techniques are described in her 2020 book, A Therapist’s Guide to Treating Eating Disorders in a Social Media Age.

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