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!

Recovery Conversations: A Q&A with Dayna Altman

Dayna Altman

**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. This story includes a reference to sexual assault. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

Dayna Altman is a mental health author, advocate, and entrepreneur. Her community-based organization, Bake it Till You Make it LLC, is dedicated to destigmatizing mental illness, normalizing mental health conversations, and promoting authentic healing and recovery. A dual graduate of Northeastern University and an active Boston community member, Dayna has experience both working in the mental health field and with youth-based nonprofits. Currently, Dayna works at a national education non-profit, and in all other hours of the day, she pursues public speaking, cookbook writing, documentary filmmaking, and exploring new ways to change the world using her own story. Follow her on Instagram (@daynaaltman).

Recovery Conversations is a question-and-answer series that features voices and stories of eating disorder recovery. In this post, Dayna Altman joins us to reflect on the lessons of her recovery and the power that she has found within the storytelling medium.

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Navigating Fairs and Festivals with an Eating Disorder

A person pictured from behind, holding cotton candy and looking up at a Ferris wheel

The tail end of summer is here, indicating the start of state fair season in much of the country. For many, the fairs and festivals dotting the calendar are considered among the buzziest, most anticipated events of the year. However, someone with a complicated relationship with food might feel less inclined to “step right up” to these events often characterized by plentiful confections and deep-fried reputations.

If food anxiety gives you ambivalence around fairs and festivals, we want you to know that it IS possible to not only tolerate these settings, but to even enjoy your experience. In this blog, we’ll examine sources of potential triggers at these events, provide suggestions on how to challenge your eating disorder, and ultimately, equip you with strategies to make your fair experience a blue ribbon win.

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Physical Effects of Anorexia

tape measure wrapped around apple

What is Anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized most notably by weight loss and nutrient deficiency. Those with anorexia have difficulty maintaining an appropriate weight for their size and shape. They may restrict their calorie intake, exercise compulsively, use laxatives, and/or purge in order to keep their weight low. Anorexia affects people of all genders, ages, or any other demographic categorizations. Anorexia cannot be diagnosed by simply looking at a person, because people can suffer from anorexia without looking like the stereotypical thin image. Those who live in larger bodies can be underweight and suffer from anorexia that is equally serious and severe.

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Redefining Strength in Eating Disorder Recovery

Megan Bazzini

**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.

Megan Bazzini is a writer⁠—an aspiring YA novelist, cringe-worthy poet, and mental health essayist. She’s a business school grad who has lived in LA, Hong Kong, and Milan. Now she’s returned home to New York and is a proud chihuahua rescue mom and corporate strategist at a major financial services institution. Megan’s eating disorder recovery mantra is, “Keep going. Recovery is worth it.” You can follow her on Twitter (@BazziniBooks) or visit her portfolio.

I didn’t realize how much being a runner became my identity—much like my eating disorder, indistinguishable from the rest of me.

I’ve always based too much of my self-worth on my athleticism and on the compliments I used to get about my toned body. When starting recovery, I feared the rest days I would have to endure and the inevitable body changes that would occur during weight restoration.

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Using Self-Compassion to Combat Motivational Perfectionism

Ben Eckstein

One of the tricky things about mental health problems is that the outside world only sees the tip of the iceberg. The observable behaviors and symptoms are apparent for all to see, but underneath the visible exterior is a complex set of thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and experiences. These are the mechanisms which truly power things like eating disorders and OCD, but for better or worse, they tend to go unnoticed. It makes sense, then, that someone might believe that treating these problems is as simple as telling someone to “just eat” or to “just stop eating.” After all, we have the ability to make choices about our behavior, so shouldn’t we be able to wrangle these symptoms into our control? When a therapist says to resist a compulsion or to follow a meal plan, aren’t they saying that it’s just a matter of pushing through the discomfort?

As you probably know, it’s not quite that simple. Sure, determination and willingness will come in handy, but we have to be careful not to reduce this process to something so simple. The oversimplified American mentality of “picking yourself up by your bootstraps” doesn’t always fit with the complexities of mental health. Tempting as it might be to double down on willpower, it’s actually not a particularly effective way to get things done. Willpower is a finite resource. We inevitably lose steam and end up depleted. 

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Episode 75: Eating Disorders in Running with Rachael Steil

Rachael Steil

Episode description:

In this episode of Peace Meal, Rachael Steil shares her past struggles with anorexia and binge eating and her current passion for helping athletes with eating disorders. Rachael loved running from a young age, but the drive she felt to improve in her sport contributed to restrictive eating behaviors. She says she became obsessed with food and started pulling away from her friends and hobbies. Once Rachael started her recovery journey, she received incredible support from her college running coach. Reflecting on this experience, Rachael explains the essential role that coaches can have on their athletes’ lives and the importance of educating coaches on eating disorder warning signs. Rachael ends the podcast with the inspiration for creating her memoir Running in Silence and her nonprofit of the same name and previews the topic of her next book. 

Rachael Steil is an eating disorder recovery advocate and the author of Running in Silence, which details her story as an All-American athlete struggling with anorexia and binge eating. She is also the founder of the Running in Silence nonprofit to break misconceptions and raise awareness for eating disorders in sports, serves on the board of the Michigan Eating Disorder Alliance, and is currently a mentor for the USTFCCCA Female Coaches Mentorship Program. 

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