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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!

P.R.E.P. for the Holidays

A place setting with orange leaves on the plate and around the plate with pumpkins on the table

Often marketed as the “most wonderful time of the year,” the holidays can be an especially challenging time for those dealing with disordered eating and eating disorders.

Preparing sets you up for the greatest level of support for your recovery efforts and an opportunity to engage in what can be enjoyed or appreciated this season. Here are a few tips on how to P.R.E.P. for the holidays.

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Autism and Eating Disorders

A child with an anxious expression sitting in front of a plate of food.

Note: In this blog, we use identity-first language (e.g., “an autistic individual”) to reflect the preferences of self-advocates who embrace autism as an identity category – a diverse way of perceiving and interacting with the world (Taboas et al., 2022; Bury et al., 2020). However, we recognize that preferences for this language vary; whenever possible, please ask an individual what they prefer.

Living with and treating an eating disorder may be complicated by the presence of a co-occurring condition, particularly when the condition shares characteristics with an eating disorder. One such condition that shares some psychopathology with a disordered eating mindset—and is frequently seen alongside an eating disorder diagnosis—is autism spectrum disorder.

There are a number of factors that increase the risk of disordered eating or an eating disorder in an autistic individual. By looking at the nature of both eating disorders and autism spectrum disorders, we can better understand their relationship and improve the detection, care, and treatment of both conditions.

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Episode 78: Occupational Therapy and Eating Disorders with Maddie Duzyk

Maddie Duzyk

Episode description:

We begin this episode of Peace Meal with guest Maddie Duzyk describing her lived experience with anorexia as it compares to her life in recovery. Reflecting on the everyday impact of her eating disorder, she explains how the illness made it difficult to distinguish between her own values and those of her disorder. Fortunately, treatment and recovery have allowed her to find herself again and reconnect with her interests and roles separate from the illness she once mistook for herself. 

As an occupational therapist, Maddie now helps clients on their own recovery journey, including during the often difficult transition from higher levels of care to outpatient life. She shares with us her recent doctoral capstone, which explored the perceptions of social eating behaviors among adolescents with eating disorders, and provides suggestions for those supporting a person with an eating disorder during mealtimes. She ends the podcast by expressing her hope that one day clients and providers alike will recognize and employ occupational therapy as an additional resource in eating disorder recovery. 

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How to Recognize Eating Disorders in Your Patients Over the Holidays

A Thanksgiving place setting

The holiday season is beginning. Although this time of year can bring much joy, it can also come with difficulties, especially for those with eating disorders. In a season that often involves large shared meals, diet talk, and an abundance of sweet treats, it’s no wonder that this time may be challenging for a person struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder. 

When seeing patients during the holiday season (and all year long), providers like you have a unique role in recognizing eating disorder symptoms. Your appointments are a valuable opportunity to notice signs of trouble and provide support during what is often the most challenging time of year for those with these illnesses.  

Read on to learn about the challenges facing those with eating disorders during the holidays, as well as what providers can do to support those struggling.

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Empowering Music for Eating Disorder Recovery

Woman listening to headphones in the sun

Music has long been recognized as a tool for healing. Well before Spotify playlists of empowering recovery songs and Pinterest boards of inspiring lyric tattoos, music was celebrated as curative in mythology, religion, and philosophy. Apollo, the Greek god of both music and medicine, used his songs to heal and prevent disease. In the Old Testament, David played his harp to soothe Saul, and in Aristotle’s writings, music was hailed as emotionally cathartic and healing.

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Staff Spotlight, Nicole Kovalchin

Nicole Kovalchin

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Nicole, and I am a Behavioral Health Specialist (BHS) at The Emily Program’s Cleveland Outpatient location. I am currently assisting the adult standard IDP/PHP programs at this location until the young adult program begins. I have been with The Emily Program for a little over a year now. I started off as an Administrative Assistant before moving into this BHS role.

What do you like most about your job?

I love our clients and my co-workers/friends here! I always feel super supported in learning how to best serve clients and growing in my role as a BHS. I genuinely enjoy interacting with clients every day and am constantly learning new things from them!

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