Posts Tagged ‘Education’

How to Introduce Deep Breathing into your Daily Routine

Mindfulness card

Stressors are all around us—busy schedules, conflict, challenging jobs, life changes, loss, illness—and sometimes we don’t even notice the effect stress has on us until something forces us to recognize it. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and eating disorders are often clear signs that stress has taken a toll on an individual. While these mental health conditions are not caused by stress (they are caused by a variety of things including genetics, psychology, and an individual’s neurobiology), stress often exacerbates these conditions making them more likely to greatly disrupt an individual’s quality of life.

When individuals experience stress, the fight or flight response is activated. This physiological response is the body’s reaction when it believes it is in danger, threatened, or under attack. Unfortunately, our bodies cannot tell the difference between actual and perceived danger, so our body’s reaction to being confronted with a dangerous animal may be the same as its reaction to our friend telling us they have something serious that they want to talk to us about.

When we experience a fight or flight reaction, our bodies produce excess adrenaline and cortisol. The release of these hormones is likely to make our heart rate increase, our bodies tense, and our palms sweat. In an extreme case, this reaction may spiral an individual into a full-blown panic attack, where an individual cannot seem to regain control over their body and mind. In less severe cases, individuals may experience a constant state of mild stress, which can result in a buildup of stress hormones. This ongoing stress can cause tension headaches, poor immune system functioning, mental health illnesses, high blood pressure, and an overall feeling of discomfort and disease.

Of course, in severe cases or when an individual is experiencing mental health concerns, it is important to see a licensed professional for specialized advice and treatment. Luckily, more mild cases can be controlled or dampened by using body-based defenses. In addition to using our breath to control current stress, engaging in a deep breathing or meditation practice daily can promote continued wellbeing and lessen the likelihood of developing stress-related illnesses.

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Eating Disorders: The Brain-Gut Connection

Tea leaves in tea cup

Eating disorders are biologically-based brain illnesses that are noted by changes in food behaviors, eating, and self-perception. Eating disorders are complex illnesses that often become increasingly severe.

Over the last decade, we have seen a new area of research take shape as investigators have studied the brain, personality traits that are mediated by how the brain is wired, and how the brain processes reward. Recently, fMRI studies have demonstrated differences in the experiences of reward in individuals with eating disorders compared to controls who have never had eating disorders as well as people who had an eating disorder but are now recovered.

These studies found that people with Anorexia Nervosa experience less stimulation of the reward pathways of the brain, while people with bulimia seem to experience more active reward pathways. Early research examining reward processing in individuals with binge eating disorders shows data similar to those with bulimia. Additionally, there is emerging research on the gut’s connection to mood and brain function that may illuminate our understanding of eating disorders.

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Eating Disorders 101

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Eating disorders are real, complex illnesses that can cause serious harm. Eating disorders are characterized by a disturbance in an individual’s eating and food behaviors or self-perception. Common warning signs of eating disorders are extreme weight changes, altered eating behaviors, or an intense fixation on food and body talk. Eating disorders are biologically-based brain illnesses that are affected by environmental, social, and psychological factors. This means that illness is not caused by one specific factor, but rather by a series of factors in an individual’s unique life experience.

Types of Eating Disorders

Due to the complexity of eating disorders, the DSM-5 divides eating disorders into the following five categories:

Anorexia Nervosa. Anorexia is noted by extreme food restriction that causes dramatic and prolonged weight loss. It often presents with body dysmorphia and a genuine fear of food.

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). ARFID includes feeding or eating disorders that involve a lack of interest in or an avoidance of certain foods that result in a failure to meet nutritional needs. ARFID, unlike anorexia, does not include a drive for thinness.

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How Healthcare Providers can Identify Eating Disorders in People of Color

Woman using computer on couch

Eating disorders have stereotypically been associated with slim, white, young, heterosexual women. In reality, eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of how they identify. Eating disorders are brain-based biological illnesses that have complex causes and require specialized care. However, the stereotypical misconception of someone with an eating disorder has serious ramifications on who is diagnosed and continues on to receive proper treatment.

Consequences of the Thin, White Woman Stereotype

Historically, there has been a misconception that eating disorders affect only thin, young, white females. Advocate Claire Mysko says, “This early assumption that eating disorders primarily affect young, affluent white women was based on the research that was conducted on young, affluent, white women.” This research conducted on only white women led people to believe eating disorders were only a white woman’s disease. Despite most providers now knowing that this is false, the initial belief had serious implications for eating disorder treatment today.

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Episode 6: Let’s Talk Nutrition!

Vegetable dish

Episode description:

Dietitian Bailey Weirens joins Peace Meal to discuss the truth behind nutrition and healthy eating. Bailey discusses the importance of calories, why macro and micronutrients are important, and what recovery meal plans are. By advocating for an anti-diet approach to nutrition and promoting body acceptance, Bailey enlightens listeners on the importance of listening to our bodies in order to sustain long-term health and wellbeing.

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Why Some Clients Need Residential Treatment

Seattle Group Room

Eating disorders occur at different levels of severity, which is why we offer multiple levels of client care, from outpatient to residential. Whenever possible, our goal is to minimize the disruption to a client’s day-to-day life. However, when an eating disorder presents as a crisis, more intensive care becomes necessary so harmful behavior patterns can be interrupted as soon as possible. Some examples of eating disorder related crises include:

  • Medical instability
  • Inability to control one’s own behaviors
  • Extreme changes in BMI to the degree that physical health may be at imminent risk

 In each of these situations, residential care is most often recommended. In residential care, medical safety for at-risk clients can be maintained because of the presence of 24/7 nursing and medical providers. Residential care exists so that clients who are medically unstable or unable to improve in other care levels can avoid hospitalization, which is a far more restrictive experience. Residential care is not forced care and it is not designed to limit freedom. It is designed to provide safety, rapid results, and to prepare clients for long-term recovery.

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