Episode 59: Choosing Recovery with Kathryn

Episode description: 

​​Kathryn is a 31-year-old woman who enjoys cooking, hosting friends, teaching music, and getting lost in nature. Best known for her big heart and passion for life, she lives in a larger body and advocates for people to take up more space. Kathryn joins us in this episode of Peace Meal to share her eating disorder story, including how living in a larger body has impacted her recovery. 

For over 20 years, food was the center of Kathryn’s life. She kept trying to figure out what was happening on her own, blaming herself for her struggles. After talking with the people closest to her, she decided to seek help even though she didn’t have a lot of hope that anything would work. 

As soon as Kathryn reached out for help, however, she says it felt like a “warm hug.” In speaking with an eating disorder specialist, she discovered that she did, in fact, have an illness. It was not her fault. While she experienced many barriers throughout her recovery living in a larger body, she grew to learn that all food is good food and that you should take up as much space as you need. With the support of her treatment team, friends, and family, she learned how to take care of herself, live as the most authentic version of herself, and make sure all her needs are met.

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Episode 58: Advancing Eating Disorders Education with Shikha Advani

Shikha Advani

Episode description:

Shikha Advani is an incoming master’s student and dietetic intern at Boston University who is passionate about eating disorders awareness, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion in the nutrition and eating disorder fields. As a teenager, Shikha battled anorexia and orthorexia. She hopes her story can help others with eating disorders, no matter where they are in their recovery process.

In this episode of Peace Meal, Shikha discusses what her relationship with food and her body was growing up, how professionals and her loved ones responded to her eating disorder, and how she believes nutrition and eating disorders curricula in universities could be improved. She talks about the weight bias and racism she experienced as a South Asian woman living in a larger body, including the praise she received from doctors for weight loss. Shikha also emphasizes the importance of therapy in addition to any other kind of treatment for eating disorders. In addition, she dives into what her dietetics curriculum at her university was lacking, including topics like social justice, fat positivity, and more, and what it was like to push back against outdated ideas. Finally, she discusses her hopes for the future of the dietetics and eating disorder fields.

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Episode 57: Supporting a Partner with an Eating Disorder with Dana Harron

A couple holding hands

Episode description:

Dr. Dana Harron is a practicing psychologist, the founder and director of Monarch Wellness & Psychotherapy, and the author of Loving Someone with an Eating Disorder: Understanding, Supporting and Connecting with Your Partner. She joins us in this episode of Peace Meal to discuss how partners of people with eating disorders can support their loved one through illness and recovery.

Dana discusses the common mistakes that partners of people with eating disorders can make and how to avoid those mistakes. She also provides practical tips for approaching a partner when you notice unhealthy behaviors and how to respond when a partner shares that they are struggling with food or their body. In addition, Dana covers useful strategies for supporting a partner during eating disorder recovery, emphasizing the importance of self-care to this process.

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Episode 56: The Healing Power of Horses with Lisa Whalen

Lisa Whalen

Episode description:

Lisa Whalen, PhD, is the author of Stable Weight: A Memoir of Horses, Hunger, and Hope. Her writing has also appeared in An Introvert in an Extrovert World, The Simpsons’ Beloved Springfield, Introvert, Dear, and Adanna, among other publications. Lisa teaches writing and literature at North Hennepin Community College and is an equestrian and volunteer for the Animal Humane Society.

In this episode of Peace Meal, Lisa describes two key components of her eating disorder recovery: writing and horseback riding. Underscoring the multifaceted nature of the healing process, she reflects on how writing and riding each offered unique lessons for her mind and body. Writing, she explains, supported and extended her therapy lessons, while riding provided a space to put the lessons into practice. Lisa introduces us to a few of the horses that served as mentors throughout her recovery, highlighting the lessons they could teach us all about staying present, taking up space, and being imperfect. She then translates how these and other recovery “nuggets”—the wisdom learned from horses, writing, and therapy—continue to serve her life and career.

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Episode 55: Eating Disorders in Fiction with Emily Layden

Emily Layden

Episode description:

Emily Layden is a writer and former high school English teacher from upstate New York. A graduate of Stanford University, her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Marie Claire, The Billfold, and Runner’s World. She joins us in this episode of Peace Meal to discuss her debut novel All Girls. We explore the depiction of disordered eating and anxiety in the book and society more generally, using Emily’s experience with the co-occurring concerns as context along the way. 

We center our conversation on one of the characters of All Girls, Macy, who struggles with clinical anxiety and an eating disorder resembling ARFID. Emily tells us about her decision to write Macy as she did, eschewing graphic descriptions of behaviors to highlight Macy’s anxious thoughts instead. She describes what she hopes All Girls adds to the larger conversation about eating disorders and the adolescent females among whom eating disorders are particularly prevalent. Emphasizing the importance of taking both eating disorders and young women more seriously, we explore how society tends to think similarly of both.

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Episode 54: Building Body Trust with Holly Toronto

Holly Toronto

Episode description:

Holly Toronto is a Certified Master Level Coach who specializes in body image. She has five years of experience helping people stop prioritizing other people’s expectations of beauty, belief, or behavior so that they can live their life from a place of wholeness, fully aligned with the truth of who they are. Holly joins us in this episode of Peace Meal to explore factors that impact our relationship with our bodies, as well as some strategies to improve it. 

Holly first unpacks how purity culture shaped the way she learned to relate to her own body. Messages about sexuality contributed to body distrust and triggered negative body image at a young age. Her body shame increased as she grew into early adulthood and experienced acne. She adopted a “pure food” diet meant to clear her skin, but lost weight and received validation for that instead.

Though it seemed normal and even “healthy,” in reality, the highly restrictive diet was taking a serious toll on Holly’s mental and physical wellbeing. And then came a turning point. Holly shares how finding intuitive eating impacted her life and career by challenging misguided ideas of health and set her on a path toward food freedom and body trust. She dispels common myths about intuitive eating and describes how she walks alongside her clients who adopt it. Emphasizing the importance of body trust and partnership, she offers tips for anyone seeking to heal their relationships with their bodies.

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