Part Two: Don’t Look in My Lunchbox! An Open Letter to all teachers, coaches, school personnel, educators, parents, and frankly, everyone, everywhere…

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Clementine Advisory Board Member Cherie Monarch shares an important letter from a mother’s perspective in this week’s blog post. Cherie continues with an “open letter to all teachers, coaches, school personnel, educators, parents, and frankly, everyone, everywhere”.  

10 Things you need to know before you speak (read 1-4 HERE)

5. It is estimated that at least 10 to 15 percent of children and up to 80 percent of all special needs children struggle with some form of feeding disorder or challenges. Some children have complex food challenges, allergies, or anxieties – they can be physical or mental. Many of these challenges are not obvious. My child may have severe anxiety in social situations or loud environments (like a lunchroom) and become overwhelmed and distracted. Therefore, they must consume calorically dense, safe foods – foods you may not consider nutritious – in an effort to meet their energy requirement for the remainder of the school day. My child may have ARFID – Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and may avoid foods based on certain qualities – such as texture, color, taste, or temperature. As such, my child may only have 3-4 foods total that he/she will eat. If you shame my child about what is in their lunchbox, they may eat nothing. Your words may have just eliminated one of my child’s “safe” foods – therefore harming them and erasing a source of energy.  

6. There is little research on the effectiveness of healthy eating and weight initiatives in schools. In fact, there have been studies that have indicated that a potential unintended consequence of these programs and schools monitoring lunches was the development of an eating disorder in children who were susceptible or genetically predisposed. The children who are negatively impacted by these programs are typically students who excel in academics and extra-curricular activities and view the healthy weight initiatives as another measure of their success. So, please be careful with your words. They may compel to my perfectionistic child, my rule follower, to embark on a competition to be the “healthiest” kid. I know you would not want to be the trigger that caused a child to develop a life-threatening eating disorder or unhealthy food and exercise behaviors.

7. Research suggests that up to 50% of the population demonstrate problematic or disordered relationships with food, body and exercise. In our culture, there is an obsession with size and weight (thinness), diet and exercise. In fact, research has indicated that 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fatYour words may result in my child having disordered eating which could include chronic yo-yo dieting, frequent weight fluctuations, rigid and unhealthy food and exercise regime, feelings of guilt and shame every time my child eats a food you have instructed is “unhealthy” or they gain weight or they are unable to maintain exercise habits. Your instruction could potentially cause my child to be preoccupied with food, body and exercise that causes them distress and has a negative impact on their quality-of-life. It could result in my child using compensatory measures such as exercise, food restriction, fasting, purging, laxative use, etc., in an effort to “offset” any food consumed. It is estimated 35-57% of adolescent girls and 20-30% of adolescent boys engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives. You likely do you not realize the impact your words can have on my child’s mental and physical health – for the rest of their life. It is important you understand disordered eating is a serious health concern. Detrimental consequences could include a greater risk of obesity (the very thing you’re trying to prevent), eating disorders, bone loss, gastrointestinal disturbances, electrolyte imbalances, low heart rate and blood pressure, increased anxiety and depression, and social isolation.

 

We are exited to share the opening of Clementine Malibu Lake. Learn more about the program by visiting our website or calling an Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.

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.

 


When Emotion Mind Wreaks Havoc on our Behaviors

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Clementine Briarcliff Manor Primary Therapist Dana Sedlak, LCSW discusses the progression of “emotion mind” to “wise mind” in eating disorder treatment. In this week’s blog post, Dana explains how our emotions are directly tied to our behaviors and some strategies used to support clients in recognizing and moving past maladpative behaviors.

One of the most difficult parts of treatment involves identifying and understanding one’s thoughts and feelings. This can be more challenging for those with eating disorders whose function has served as a numbing agent for several unwanted emotions. It has become natural and sometimes habitual to dismiss feelings in order to feel in control. Through DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), teenagers are introduced to the idea of Distress Tolerance: Unfortunately, pain is a part of life and therefore one must learn how to manage difficult emotions.

Many teenagers speak to having an increase of emotions once they begin completing their meal plan in treatment. We often wonder whether they are experiencing more emotions due to many of their eating disorder behaviors decreasing or because they are becoming more connected to themselves and others due to the therapeutic process. Despite the reasoning behind this, the increase in emotions is extremely uncomfortable for them. They often report feeling easily overwhelmed by these emotions with little confidence in coping with them. The danger in this scenario is that without intervention, emotion mind leads right back to use of destructive behaviors. They then become stuck in what often feels like an endless cycle.

The beginning of this cycle includes a precipitating event that is identified as the trigger. This could be anything from a death of a loved one to getting a poor grade on a test. One’s emotions then start to bubble up, including depression, desperation, anxiety, and worthlessness. Shortly after these emotions then turn into thoughts that become fueled by these emotions. “I can’t deal with this anymore” and “I’m so dumb, I might as well just stop trying” are prime examples of these emotion-driven thoughts based on the triggering event. As we know from CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), the thoughts also quickly turn into behaviors. This is where one’s eating disorder and co-morbid illnesses take hold. Restricting, binging, purging, over-exercising, self-harming, and other similar behaviors serve as protective measures that protect one’s ego/self-esteem in order to avoid these thoughts and emotions.

Once the behaviors have initially subsided, consequences are likely to appear. This could occur in either the short or long-term, but often results in loss of freedom, relationship problems, health problems, or a worsening of symptoms. Emotion mind revs up and creates more feelings of depression, anxiety, being overwhelmed, and an increase in shame because of these consequences. These emotions now feel intolerable again and one resorts back to what she thinks works: Covering up these emotions through more behaviors.  Before she is even aware, she becomes stuck in this cycle of suffering all over again.

The goal through DBT is to intervene at the beginning stages of this destructive pattern. It is vital in recovery for one to be able to appropriately identify and feel one’s emotions. It makes sense for someone to feel sadness after a death or anxiety after doing poorly on a test. We never want to invalidate this part of the experience. What we would like to change comes in-between the negative thoughts and the behavior use. At this point in the cycle, one must learn to challenge her thoughts and then seek self-soothing coping behaviors to gain the same sense of protection and security that the eating disorder often creates. This can come in the form of one’s five senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Go outside in nature, listen to your favorite song, smell a candle of a scent that brings you peace, take a warm bath or shower, or sip on your favorite drink.

Through continued intervention and practice, emotion mind will mold into wise mind where one no longer needs to use the eating disorder to manage and push away the emotions. Instead, one has gained the courage to face the emotions as they are. By breaking this cycle, one becomes vulnerable enough to know and believe that she is completely capable of working through any emotion that arises. It is then that one can begin to slowly and surely let go of the old destructive behaviors that no longer serve the same purpose.

 

References: “Out-of Control: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)-Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior”

 

We are exited to share the opening of Clementine Malibu Lake. Learn more about the program by visiting our website or calling an Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.

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.

 


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.

 

How to use Meditation for Teen Stress and Anxiety Cleveland Clinic

How is Hating Your Body Serving You? Huffington Post

How to Keep a Recovery Mindset During Finals Week Angie Viets

4 Tips for Navigating the Holiday Season without Compromising Your Recovery Recovery Warriors

5 Ways I’m Managing my Mental Health Through the Holidays The Mighty

5 Ways to Stay Motivated in Recovery Over the Long Term Project Heal

 

We are exited to share the opening of Clementine Malibu Lake. Learn more about the program by visiting our website or calling an Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.

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.


Don’t Look in My Lunchbox! An Open Letter to all teachers, coaches, school personnel, educators, parents, and frankly, everyone, everywhere…

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Clementine Advisory Board Member Cherie Monarch shares an important letter from a mother’s perspective in this week’s blog post. Check out the first of two posts written by Cherie…

10 Things you need to know before you speak

An Open Letter to all teachers, coaches, school personnel, educators, parents, and frankly, everyone, everywhere…

Dear Teacher,

I can’t thank you enough for your dedication and inspiring my child to love learning. You truly are a hero to me and my child.  I want to thank you for your concern for my child’s nutritional wellbeing and wanting my child to be healthy. It is greatly appreciated. But with all due respect, it is important for you to know that I am my child’s mother and I know their nutritional needs better than anyone.

Here are a few things you likely don’t know:

  1. My child may have a sibling who has struggled with an eating disorder. As a result of the genetic link, my child is 10 times more susceptible to developing an eating disorder than the average population. It is important that my child eats ALL foods. I do not want my child being encouraged, instructed, or told that he should not eat certain foods. Your words could potentially be the catalyst for food restriction and negative energy balance which could trigger an eating disorder for those prone.
  2. Foods do not have moral value. I do not want my child being taught that some foods are good and some foods are bad. Yes, some foods may offer more nutritional value than others, but all foods have purpose. Some may offer more vitamins, but others may offer comfort, celebration and nurture their spirit. Nutrition is about balance. I want my child to eat all foods and learn all foods are good in moderation. Balance is key.
  3. You do not know a child’s medical history, needs and conditions. Therefore, I encourage you to not instruct any child on their food choice or monitor their lunch boxes for content. A student could have a hematologic condition where their blood clots faster than normal. Ingesting vegetables, which are loaded with vitamin K, could actually harm them by creating a blood clot. A child with this condition needs to have a limited amount of vitamin K. The child could also be suffering from an eating disorder or a brain condition, you can’t tell by looking at them. They may need additional fats in their diet.
  4. Are you aware that the average person needs 30% fat in their diet for normal brain function? You telling my child not to eat NO fat or low-fat may cause their brain to atrophy and may cause them to have memory problems. Having fat in my child’s diet can actually make them smarter. You see, their brain is comprised of 60% fat. So, their brain needs fat in order to function correctly.
  5. It is estimated that at least 10 to 15 percent of children and up to 80 percent of all special needschildren struggle with some form of feeding disorder or challenges. Some children have complex food challenges, allergies, or anxieties – they can be physical or mental. Many of these challenges are not obvious. My child may have severe anxiety in social situations or loud environments (like a lunchroom) and become overwhelmed and distracted. Therefore, they must consume calorically dense, safe foods – foods you may not consider nutritious – in an effort to meet their energy requirement for the remainder of the school day. My child may have ARFID – Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and may avoid foods based on certain qualities – such as texture, color, taste, or temperature. As such, my child may only have 3-4 foods total that he/she will eat. If you shame my child about what is in their lunchbox, they may eat nothing. Your words may have just eliminated one of my child’s “safe” foods – therefore harming them and erasing a source of energy.

 

We are exited to share the opening of Clementine Malibu Lake. Learn more about the program by visiting our website or calling an Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.

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.