Supporting Eating Disorder Recovery Through the Holidays

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Clementine Briarcliff Manor Registered Dietitian Megan Fahey, MS, RD, CDN discusses eating disorder recovery through the holidays in this week’s blog post. Megan outlines tips to offer you or your loved one support around the holiday table.

It is once again the most wonderful (and stressful) time of year! Along with shopping, decorating and gift giving, cooking and baking are included on the never-ending to-do list. From Thanksgiving dinner through New Year’s celebrations, food undeniably plays a central role at holiday gatherings. For an individual struggling with an eating disorder, or working to maintain recovery from one, the overwhelming focus on eating can take away from celebratory experiences with family and friends. The following are tips to offer you or your loved one support around the holiday table.

Plan Ahead.

Schedule holiday plans in advance in order to make any necessary adjustments to your meal plan. Gather details on the location and timing of each event, as well as the type of food served. Work with your dietitian prior to a holiday party to create a balanced plate from the dishes that will be available. Focus on incorporating a variety of textures, colors and flavors to enjoy. Keeping in line with a 3 meal + 3 snack meal plan model, try selecting appetizers or desserts for one or more of your “snacks” to normalize your style of eating for the holidays. If you or your loved one have food allergies or dietary restrictions, be sure to collaborate with the hostess and bring alternative dishes as needed. Although the meal plan is a tool to help you navigate decisions around food at the table, it is important to maintain flexibility around timing of eating and selection of food. Becoming attuned to your physical body will ultimately shift your focus away from an external meal plan. Eating disorder recovery is possible when you provide yourself permission to nourish yourself based on your body’s internal cues and desires.

Ask for Support.

This is a time of year to connect with those around us. Open up to a trusted family member or friend to communicate whatever support you may need to follow your established meal plan. Identify particular food behaviors you are working on and explain how your “ally” can best support you at the table. Maybe you need a second set of eyes assessing your portion sizes, or someone to pace with you during the meal. It may be stepping aside before and/or after the meal to briefly process your emotions and check in with your hunger / fullness levels. Eating disordered thoughts and urges are isolating, even when surrounded by a room full of people. Reach out and ask someone to help you process the emotion of the holiday to help resist eating disorder urges before, during and after the meal.

Be Mindful.

Mindfulness practices such as deep breathing will activate the parasympathetic nervous system and ease the muscles of the digestive tract. Your mindset while eating impacts not only the quantity of food you consume, but also how well your body is able to digest and absorb the nutrients present in the meal. Take a moment before the first bite to place both feet on the floor and take a few deep breaths to help calm your nervous system and ground yourself at the table. Although it sounds simple, mindful breathing will restore oxygen to the brain, helping you think clearly and make more effective decisions.

Create New Traditions.

It is not uncommon for holiday discussion to revolve around food, often times referencing the “good” or “bad” qualities of each component of the meal. This can be especially triggering to hear if you are working to establish a more nourishing relationship with food and your body. Although it is not possible control the attitudes of those around you, try introducing games or music at your family gathering to help shift the focus from food talk to interpersonal connection. Set a goal to interact with family members in a different way by engaging in conversation around shared interests or offering non-appearance related complements to at least 3 people. Remember that most people experience some level of anxiety at holiday gatherings and may also benefit from creating new traditions for the day.

Give to Yourself. 

During this season of giving, it is extremely important to tend to your own needs. There is such a beautiful energy in the spirit of the holidays, which can be overshadowed by your anxiety around food and eating. Create time in your schedule for self-care, incorporating relaxing activities to balance social holiday events. Implement a gratitude practice to connect with the abundance of your life. You have worked so hard on this journey of eating disorder recovery and are inherently worthy of experiencing all of the joy of the holiday season.

 

Clementine invites you to an open house celebration for our newest location, Clementine Malibu Lake, opening in December, on November 30th at 5pm! Learn more here

For more information about Clementine adolescent treatment programs, please call 855.900.2221, visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Creating a Game Plan for the Holidays – Helping you and your loved one navigate

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Clementine Parent Advisory Board Members Becky Henry, CPCC and Cherie Monarch co-wrote this week’s blog post for all those with a loved one struggling with an eating disorder. Becky and Cherie outline clear tips to create a game plan to support you and your loved one in navigating the upcoming holidays. We are thankful to both Becky and Cherie for contributing this extremely helpful piece.

For someone with an eating disorder, the holidays can be an extremely difficult and stressful time. There are family celebrations, school parties, office parties, friend parties…the list goes on. But the common theme of these celebrations is FOOD.  Food is everywhere. Food is the topic of conversation. Everyone is speaking of “good” and “bad” foods. How they shouldn’t be “bad”. How they will “work it off” tomorrow. FOOD. FOOD. FOOD. WEIGHT.

For our loved ones trapped in the private hell of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and other eating disorders, the holidays are the ultimate nightmare.  These holidays magnify the personal struggles of our loved one and can be extremely difficult – for the family and the patient. The family is uncertain how to support the patient during these “food” feasts and the patient is terrified, feeling an increase in anxiety surrounding the holidays.

Follow these 10 tips to create a game plan that will help support you and your loved one throughout these food focused holidays.

Encourage your family to focus on the real meaning of the celebration. Make sure that the primary focus of the holiday is not on the food but rather on the family and the valued time you will share together. Take this opportunity to educate family and friends about eating disorders prior to the event. Discourage talk of calories, food, fullness, over eating, and encourage discussions of gratitude and love.

Recognize and validate how challenging the holidays are for your loved one. Understand for someone navigating an eating disorder the holidays are overwhelming. Validate their fears and their challenges. Be compassionate, kind, supportive and loving.

Plan other activities and distractions. Allow for other activities such as games, movies, caroling, decorating, that focus on the quality time with friends and family. This will give your loved one and you and opportunity to relax and breathe.

Plan meals ahead of the event. Establish a plan with your loved one on how they will navigate the day. Determine ahead of time how you can best support them and what their menu will be. For someone with an eating disorder, being faced with a bountiful buffet can be overwhelming. So many choices and decisions can be paralyzing. Help free them by supporting their decisions for meal choices ahead of time.

Grab a buddy. Prior to the event, help your loved one establish a buddy. This buddy will be their support system throughout the day. Anticipate what potential challenges will be and plan ahead on how to navigate. Have the buddy sit next to them during the meal. Establish a sign, like a squeeze of the hand, that will make the buddy aware they need additional support or are struggling. Step away privately to navigate.

Don’t make it about the food. Do not focus or comment on what your loved one is eating or NOT eating. Remember if they are unable to properly nourish at the event, they can supplement later. Don’t ruin your day or your loved one’s day by focusing on the food.

Set healthy boundaries together. You and your loved one work together to establish a plan on how friends and family will be addressed should the conversation take an unhealthy or triggering turn… such as diet talk, food, weight, etc. It can help to role-play this in advance. Saying something like “I declare this table a diet free and weight free zone” or “Can we please change the conversation to something more meaningful and just enjoy each other’s company?” or “I’m so thankful to be amongst family and friends on this special day. Why don’t we each share what we’re grateful for?”  Important that you learn how to ask for what you need.

Be mindful of the time. Often times when our loved ones are navigating recovery it helps to eat at structured times. Have this conversation ahead of time. How can your loved one meet their nutritional needs that day? Make sure the events are planned with a pre-determined time for meals and nourishing. Be aware that it can add tremendous stress to someone in recovery when meal times are ignored or unstructured. Change in routine is very challenging to navigate.

Remember there is always next year.  Holidays can appear at difficult times in the recovery process. If your loved one feels they are unable to face family and friends at this time, change it up. Maybe go for a picnic in the park, spend time in nature, and feed the ducks. Another option is to do something small and intimate right in your own home. Or maybe just prepare a bunch of appetizers (something fun and different) and watch a movie and take a nap. Maybe the entire family can do a hobby together, and keep the focus off the food and on the experience and together time.

Don’t forget to laugh!! It is amazing how much laughter can help lighten the mood and alleviate the stress!

While the holidays are a time for celebration, it is also key to remember that those with eating disorders may be having a particularly hard time. It is critical that a game plan be created in order to help you and your loved one navigate these stressful holiday gatherings.  Following these tips may be a helpful way to guide you and your loved one through this stressful time.

Try to remember that holidays are about celebrating family, gratitude, blessings, and remembering what is truly important in life. The holidays are not about the food. Food is just a part of the celebration. But it’s not the reason we celebrate.

Try not to focus on the eating disorder or let the eating disorder even be a part of the day. Remember that any missed nutrition can be replenished. If there are any concerns, certainly address them with the treatment team after the holidays.

If the celebration, or thought of it, is causing tremendous stress or anxiety on your loved one express concern in a constructive way and ask how you can support them. Remember that you can celebrate quietly and don’t have to attend large stressful gatherings if your loved one is not ready. The most important thing is that there are future opportunities for celebration and that your loved one is here to truly experience them in a healthy way.

Happy holidays to you, your loved one, and your family.

 

Clementine invites you to an open house celebration for our newest location, Clementine Malibu Lake, opening in December, on November 30th at 5pm! Learn more here

For more information about Clementine adolescent treatment programs, please call 855.900.2221, visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 


Sea Glass Grant Recipient: JOY’d

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At Monte Nido & Affiliates, we save lives while providing the opportunity for people to realize their healthy selves. One of the ways we want to help provide opportunities for individuals to realize their healthy selves is through our Sea Glass Grants opportunity. A Sea Glass Grant aims to support small projects that create, develop or communicate a project that supports eating disorder recovery and healthy self-image. The latest recipient of the Sea Glass Grant is JOY’d: Joy Over Your Destination, an organization that provides earrings and encouragement for women in eating disorder treatment. Read on to learn more from founder Amy Sullivan about this amazing organization in this week’s blog post…

How did Joy’d come about?

JOY’d started with a simple question, what is my purpose? When I entered treatment for my eating disorder I didn’t fully believe that recovery was possible.  I was blessed during this time to hear stories of women who were living proof that recovery was not only possible, but oh so worth it.  I vowed that if I made it through the storm I would give back and tell my story like these brave women had done for me.  A year into my recovery I created JOY’d: Joy Over Your Destination to encourage men and women in eating disorder treatment. JOY’d sends out earrings along with encouragement cards to warriors in treatment {earrings are substituted for silly putty if a center has male clients} to try and bring them JOY. On the back of each card is the simple phrase, “Wear these earrings as a reminder that recovery is possible” because that is what I want these brave men and women to believe: that recovery is possible. I fully believe that my purpose is to spread joy and encourage those seeking recovery.

How has Joy’d helped you in your recovery journey?

JOY’d has given me a purpose for the pain I went through.  I can now look back at the darkest times of my journey and know that they happened for a reason.  Every moment, tear, person and struggle brought me to where I am now and this is exactly where I am supposed to be. Even if I just help one person to believe that recovery is possible, everything that I went through would be worth it.

Who is JOY’d?   

JOY’d is me, Amy.  I’m a personal stylist, coffee drinker, dog mom and Auntie to the most adorable little girl. My perfect summer day involves sitting by the pool with a good book and I will use any excuse I can to travel! More importantly, I am in recovery from an eating disorder after struggling for six years.  JOY’d is my mom, Jill, who is not only my best friend, but also helps me to make and package the earrings.  JOY’d is for  all of the amazing people who helped me to get to this point in my recovery; friends, family and of course my rock star treatment team.

What feeling do you most associate with JOY’d?

As cliché as it sounds, JOY!  While the eating disorder stole so much from me, what I felt like it stole the most from me was joy. My favorite part of this process is when someone who received my earrings reaches out to me and tells me what they meant to them.  What started as trying to bring others joy, has actually brought more joy back to me than I could have ever dreamed.

Walk me through the JOY’d process, how do people hear about you and your project?

Since launching JOY’d I have been working on spreading the word and connecting with treatment centers! Once I get in contact with a treatment center, the only info I need from them is how many clients they have {how many male and how many female} and an address to send the package to! I always try to include a few extra pairs of earrings for some of the staff because they are truly saving lives every day.

How and where do you get your materials?

We find most of our materials at local craft stores and some on Etsy.  We have also been blessed with amazing leather donations from La-Z-Boy and Underwood Boot Company!

What is your favorite part of the day-to-day start up process?

My favorite part of the start up process has been working with my mom.  Our relationship was so strained when I was in the midst of my eating disorder, but it is better than ever now.  My mom is my biggest fan.  I love sitting around with her brainstorming new ideas for JOY’d and of course, making earrings!

How can people get involved?

People can get involved by following @JoyOverYourDestination on Instagram.  If you feel called to support JOY’d, I also sell earrings with encouragement cards on Etsy. For every pair sold a pair is donated to women in treatment and $5 is donated to Southern Smash, an incredible non-profit that raises awareness for eating disorders and promotes positive body image by hosting scale smashes across the country.

What advice would you give to someone in their recovery who has a dream?

Fight for your dreams!  People in recovery from an eating disorder are the strongest and most determined people I’ve come across.  Take that leap of faith. If your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough!

What are your hopes and dreams for Joy’d?

Since July 2017, JOY’d has sent out over 300 pairs of earrings to treatment centers across the United States! My dream is to one day be able to travel to treatment centers to share my story, hand deliver earrings and let the clients craft their own encouragement cards! I hope that one day JOY’d will become a household name in the eating disorder recovery world.

 

For more information about Clementine adolescent treatment programs, please call 855.900.2221, visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


The Tipping Point in the Pursuit of Health: Clinical Assessment and Treatment of Orthorexia Nervosa and Exercise Addiction

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Join Oliver-Pyatt Centers, Clementine Adolescent Treatment Programs and T.H.E. Center for Disordered Eating of Western North Carolina for “The Tipping Point in the Pursuit of Health: Clinical Assessment and Treatment of Orthorexia Nervosa and Exercise Addiction” with Director of Clinical Programming Jamie Morris, MS, LMHC, CEDS-S.

Exercise and nutrition are foundational to good health, but extreme behaviors can be warning signs indicating unhealthy behaviors. Proper assessment and treatment are key in preventing these behaviors from becoming life-interfering and, in some cases, health harming. Through this workshop, participants will come away with an understanding of orthorexia, its definition and the controversy surrounding the term. Similarly, exercise addiction will be defined and assessment measures will be reviewed. The presenter will address the cognitive and behavioral similarities between orthorexia and exercise addiction and participants can expect to receive practical clinical interventions. The presentation will also address how cultural and social reinforcements impose challenges in the treatment of these disorders.

Participants will be able to:
1. Define the term orthorexia and understand the history of this disorder
2. Define the difference between compulsive and excessive exercise and name assessment measures that can be used
3. Name two validated measures that can be administered to assess eating and exercise behavior

The presentation will be held on November 17th from 10:00am – 12:00pm at The Center for Disordered Eating Office in Asheville, North Carolina. Two CE Credits Provided: PhD, PsyD, LMFT, LPCC, LMHC, LMSW, LCSW, RD

To RSVP, please reach out to Regional Outreach Manager Jamie Singleteary: jsingleteary@montenidoaffiliates.com


Article Spotlight

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Join us in reading inspirational and informative articles we have cultivated from across the web. If you have found an article you feel is inspirational, explores current research, or is a knowledgeable piece of literature and would like to share with us please send an e-mail here.

 

Adolescence and the Power of Mistakes Psychology Today

6 Ways to Build Trust with Your Body in Eating Disorder Recovery Angie Viets Blog

Halloween in Recovery: To Celebrate or Not to Celebrate? Recovery Warriors

How to Reach out to Someone in Eating Disorder Recovery  OnBeing

What Dads Need to Know About Parenting a Child who has an Eating Disorder More-Love

A Meditation Ritual to Relieve Stress & Anxiety Mind Body Green

 

For more information about Clementine adolescent treatment programs, please call 855.900.2221, visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.