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!


Jason Wood

**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.

Jason Wood is currently in recovery from orthorexia. He is now determined to turn this battle into a movement aimed at raising awareness of orthorexia as well as eating disorders in males. You may read more about his journey and movement at orthorexiabites.com

Trees amaze me with their relentless nature. They bend to the mercy of the wind. They shield from the heat of the sun. We watch them strip in the fall and awaken in the spring. Such a resilient force, rooted into the earth with unwavering confidence. Do you ever stop to think how stout they are?

Imagine what they’ve witnessed and experienced. Scientists have found olive trees in the Middle East that exceed 5,000 years in age. Talk about a lifetime full of memories! In California, redwoods are known to be almost indestructible, thanks to their thick bark. Some trees are even known to regenerate after wildfires. Here in Colorado, I love seeing the evergreens that stick true to their name. Always green, come snow and ice or heat and sun. These trees seem to know their identity and wear it proudly.

Why can’t humans be so courageous, so resilient, and so stout? Well, my friends, I believe we are! Just look at our bodies. They are our only true home. No mortgage or rent payment required. All they need is love and nutrition. And talk about sturdy–the human body amazes me just like the forest full of trees.

Read more

Staff Spotlight, Alison Paniccia

Alison Paniccia

TEP: Tell us about yourself!

Alison: Hi! I’m Alison Paniccia! I am an outpatient therapist in our Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania office. I have been with The Emily Program for just over two years now, doing intakes and outpatient therapy with children, adolescents, and adults. In this role, I have specialized particularly in providing FBT/Maudsley treatment for adolescents with a variety of eating disorders as well as providing CBT-E for both adults and adolescents. I particularly enjoy working with adolescents and their families.

TEP: Describe the path that led you to The Emily Program.

Alison: The path to the Emily Program for me has been particularly diverse! With a bachelor’s degree in biology from Boston College, I initially worked in a laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts that specialized in compatibility testing for organ transplants. While this work was important and very meaningful, I eventually really missed having direct contact with clients.  As a lifelong musician, I was also seeking a way to combine my musical skills with caring for others. 

I completed my master’s in mental health counseling and music therapy in 2013 at Lesley University. Since then, I have worked in a variety of clinical settings, all of which have brought me greater clarity and insight into my particular skills and professional goals. The bulk of my clinical experience prior to TEP was in residential settings with adolescents and young adults with significant mental health concerns and high-risk behaviors. Over the last two years, I have enjoyed learning how to adapt all of my previous training in the treatment of eating disorders. I feel as if I have really found my niche in that!

Read more

Clean Eating’s Dirty Secret 

A fresh vegetable salad

March is National Nutrition Month. For those of us who are dietitians and nutritionists, National Nutrition Month is typically a time to ask folks to think a bit more about food, nutrition, healthy eating, etc. So, it might be a little odd that I am choosing to write about the possible dangers of paying too much attention to the food you eat! 

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe that what you eat—when, how, and with whom you eat—can make a tremendous difference in your physical and mental health, as well as your overall enjoyment of life. However, we are seeing a disturbing trend, particularly online, that promotes strict adherence to a rigid set of food rules as the path to health and moral purity. This is the world of “clean eating.” 

The concept of “eating clean” has its origins in the early days of alternative medicine. People would become obsessed with obtaining health and curing disease through the strident adherence to various dietary strategies. Dr. Steven Bratman, an alternative medicine physician at the time, noted that many of his more diet-focused patients were “inadvertently harming themselves psychologically through excessive focus on food.” Also, their “exuberant pursuit of physical health had spawned a rigid, fearful and self-punishing lifestyle that caused more harm than good.” He created a name for this hyperfocus on food and obsession with eating the “right” food—“Orthorexia Nervosa” (1).

Read more

Episode 47: Body Image in Adolescents with Charlotte Markey

Dr. Charlotte Markey

Episode description: 

Charlotte Markey, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology and Health Sciences at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey. She has researched body image and eating behaviors for nearly 25 years, and is the author of The Body Image Book for Girls: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless.

Charlotte joins us in this episode of Peace Meal to discuss adolescent body image. Offering research and practical insight into the multifaceted topic, she notes that body image encompasses far more than whether we like our bodies. She touches on its various dimensions and implications in the everyday lives of adolescents and teens.

Read more

It’s Time for a New Conversation About Eating Disorders: Christie’s Story of Finding Freedom

Christie Dondero Bettwy

Christie Dondero Bettwy serves as the Executive Director for Rock Recovery, a nonprofit that helps people overcome disordered eating by combining clinical and community care. Having gone through recovery herself, she understands the depth of emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual support needed to recover. She is passionate about spreading the message that complete freedom from disordered eating is possible. Christie is an active speaker and shares her story with organizations and media outlets across the country. Christie lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband Ryan. Learn more about Rock Recovery’s work at www.rockrecoveryed.org.

Twenty years ago, I went on a dangerous diet that fueled almost a decade of disordered eating. Everyone around me praised my weight loss. The health magazines I scoured monthly further affirmed my bias that the thinner you are, the healthier you are. It took me years to realize my seemingly small diet had grown into a major problem, let alone to seek treatment.

When thinness is the goal, health will not be the result. Health was never truly my goal; thinness was.

While my eating disorder may have started as a simple desire to lose weight, that wasn’t where it ended, and it isn’t where it ends for millions of Americans. 

Eating disorders are complex illnesses, and a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors contribute to their development. An estimated 28.8 million Americans will battle an eating disorder (such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder) at some point in their lifetime,  and millions more will struggle with disordered eating, dieting, and an unhealthy relationship with food and body image. Yet, as stigma and misunderstanding remain high, treatment coverage and affordable options remain low.

Read more

Eating Disorder Awareness: What Everyone Needs to Know

A person reading a tablet outside

Most Americans have at least heard of eating disorders. They hit the public’s radar with celebrity news of the 1980s and have faded in and out of media since. More and more people have shared their own stories online and off, and today, more than half of Americans personally know someone with the illness. A staggering 28.8 million people in our country will have an eating disorder in their lifetime.

But awareness is more than knowing that Princess Diana or Demi Lovato or your cousin had an eating disorder. It’s using that information—or any other reason you were introduced to these illnesses—to understand what they mean. Awareness involves learning more about eating disorders so that we can better prevent, identify, and treat them. 

Here are some facts we’d like everyone to know about eating disorders during eating disorder awareness week and beyond.

Read more

The Emily Program Logo