Questions Parents Should Ask


There is an enduring misconception that eating disorders are simple and relatively benign illnesses. Some of these misconceptions have significant implications for how parents respond, both practically and emotionally, to their child. The complexity, ambiguity and intensity of these disorders can leave families feeling overwhelmed and anxious and, unfortunately, many even feel responsible for creating the disorder. Making informed decisions about treatment options is challenging, especially when your child is threatened by a dangerous disorder.

Eating disorders are complex disorders that require specialized expertise by a multidisciplinary treatment team. When looking for an eating disorder program that specializes in treating adolescents, you will want to consider asking the following questions of a residential provider:

  • What is your programs’ experience treating eating disorders, and how long has this been an area of specialty for your eating disorder treatment programs?
  • Is your program accredited and licensed, and by whom?
  • What is the age group your program treats?
  • Is there a nurse present 24-hours a day on site?
  • What kind of evaluation process will be used in recommending a treatment plan?
  • Does your program have a board certified Adolescent Psychiatrist?
  • How many years of experience does your programs’ Adolescent Psychiatrist and Medical Director have? What are their training and credentials?
  • How many years of experience does your programs’ Clinical Director have? What is their training and credentials? Does the Clinical Director meet with the clients at least weekly?
  • How many years of experience does your programs’ Director of Nutrition Services have? What is their training and credentials?
  • Does the Registered Dietitian provide meal planning, dine with the adolescent, meet individually with the adolescent and provide family coaching?
  • How many adolescents does each Primary Therapist oversee?
  • How does your program measure effectiveness?
  • Do you offer high-frequency individual therapy?
  • What evidence-based treatment modalities does your program offer?
  • What does the educational component look like for my daughter at your program? Are there state-certified teachers overseeing the educational programming?
  • Does your program offer family therapy, coaching and psycho-educational groups in its family programming? How often is family programming offered?
  • How do you collaborate and communicate with the family, outpatient professionals and schools while my child is in treatment with you?
  • What are the setting and milieu like?
  • Do you provide step-down options for when my child is ready for a lower level of care?

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.

To learn more about our newest location, Clementine Briarcliff Manorplease reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.

What to Say…and What Not to Say to Instill Healthy Eating and Mindfulness in Kids


An expert in nutrition and healthy living, Laura Cipullo has almost 20 years of clinical experience as a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, and Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian. In this week’s blog post, Laura shares helpful tips to encourage positive eating and mindfulness in kids.

In August 2013, I released Healthy Habits, a guide for parents and educators. The aim of the workbook — an eight-lesson plan — is to instill in children positive ways of approaching food and exercise. Lessons have a hands-on component, with handouts and homework. The book aims to also prevent eating disorders, with a philosophy that all bodies and all foods are acceptable.

One of the most helpful and convenient sections of the book is the “What Not to Say” section.

I know that as a parent or teacher you want to say the right things to children, but because so many of us have been raised in a body-negative culture, we sometimes say things that have the potential to cause harm and set children up for an unhealthy relationship with food.

And we don’t have to just think about what we say to children. Children also model their behavior on how we behave, and on how we talk about our own bodies.

Here are some common phrases we might be saying to the children in our lives and preferred alternatives.

For example:

Don’t say: “Oh honey … you could stand to lose a few pounds!”

Do say: “Are you eating for fuel? Or are you just bored or maybe even sad?”

Pointing out that you think your child could lose weight may seem like a positive thing to do, but can be deeply damaging, encouraging a lifetime of bad self-image and/or disordered eating. The better way is to get her to examine why she is eating and discussing what are healthy reasons to eat — this is an important lesson to instill mindfulness. Suggest alternatives to relieve boredom other than food — fun activities you know she likes to do.

Another example:

Don’t say: “You need to eat your veggies because they’re good for you.”

Do say: “Let’s try to eat veggies every day to get the necessary vitamins our bodies and minds need. Maybe we can use a star chart to help you try new foods like veggies.”

Saying “you need to eat your veggies because they’re good for you” is too vague. Be clear about why your child would want to eat their vegetables. Phrase it as a choice they are making. Emphasize exactly how it will help their bodies and minds (while being age-appropriate, of course). Adding a star chart gives them a goal to shoot for, without making the reward a food-based one. “Try new foods” makes it sound positive. “Trying” things emphasizes adventure, a new experience a child should be excited about. “You need to” feels more like an obligation or a punishment.

Here’s something you might say about yourself:

“My thighs are so fat!”

You might think this is a harmless thing to say in front of a child, but it has repercussions. A child can notice that mommy doesn’t like her thighs and the next thing you know, she is wondering whether her thighs are “too fat” as well. Children want to be like their parents, so if mommy is in search of the perfect body, and feeling discouraged with the one she has, well, don’t be surprised if your daughter or son starts complaining about his or her body, and wishing she or he looked “better.”

Here’s another way to talk about your body in front of your child:

“I may not be perfect, but that’s okay. I love myself and I love you!”

Healthy Habits has a number of sample scenarios like the ones above. I encourage you to buy the book for the child or children in your life. You will be giving them the gift of a healthy relationship with food, and a positive self-image, two gifts that are ultimately priceless.


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.

To learn more about our newest location, Clementine Briarcliff Manorplease reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.

Our Clementine Family: Dr. Melissa Spann


In this week’s Our Clementine Family, Vice President of Admissions Dr. Melissa Orshan Spann, PhD, LMHC, CEDS shares her journey to joining the Monte Nido & Affiliates team. She gives insight into the work she does with the admissions team and what inspires her to be so dedicated and passionate in her role. Read on to learn more about Dr. Spann…

What is your name and what are your credentials?
Melissa Orshan Spann, PhD, LMHC, CEDS

Please give us a brief description of your background.
When I decided to go to graduate school in a helping profession it was no shock to my friends and family. Growing up as the oldest of four kids, involved in community service and social action organizations, it was a natural path for me. During my doctoral training, I was introduced to a program called Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing!, a proactive approach for building healthy self-esteem in adolescent girls. Through my work facilitating girl-only groups, I reaffirmed my dedication to working with girls and women. I decided an essential part of my training would need to include integrating a systemic perspective and holistic approach to my work. Through this, I moved to Philadelphia and attended a Ph.D. program in Couples and Family Therapy. While I was in Philadelphia, I was introduced to The Renfrew Center in Philadelphia. There, I began my training in the field of eating disorders. I developed a specialization for working with couples and families who were struggling to cope with an eating disorder in their families. When I returned to home to Miami, I was introduced to Oliver-Pyatt Centers. From the moment I walked into the building, I knew OPC was the type of environment I had always hoped could exist; a place where women and their families could be provided a multi-systemic integrated approach to health and healing. Following my time as a Primary Therapist at OPC I became the Director of Admissions. After two years as Director of Admissions where we sought to build a clinical focus for a best-in-class admissions department, my role evolved to the VP of Admissions for Monte Nido & Affiliates. It was a dream for me to work in the broader role for all MNA brands including Monte NidoOPCand Clementine.

What does a typical day look like for you?
What I love about my job is that there isn’t really a “typical” day. In my current role, I have the unique opportunity to interface with many people on a daily basis. I am talking with potential clients, meeting families, working with providers and interfacing with all of our outstanding teams across the country. I feel fortunate that I often have the opportunity to connect with an individual as their first point of contact for one of our programs. Placing that initial call is often the most difficult decision to make. Myself and the highly specialized and trained admissions staff understand how critical this initial contact is and seek to meet every individual who connects us with the connection, empathy and support they receive in our care. Our goal is to provide support, consultation through a therapeutic lens during every interaction we have.

In your own words, please describe the philosophy of Monte Nido & Affiliates.
To me, our philosophy is about balancing acceptance and change, integrating mindfulness in all aspects of life, and focusing on a highly interpersonal model that through connection and meaningful relationships, recovery is possible.

What is your favorite thing about Monte Nido & Affiliates?
I have held many roles throughout the organization. No matter what I am doing, by far the best part of my job is the amazing group of people that I work with. Everyone shares a common vision and goal, respect one another, and share a life both professionally and personally with each other. Through our outstanding staff, we are able to model what it means to share in strong female relationships that provide support and care – something that is translated to the women we work with.

What are three facts about you that people do not know?
Oh boy, here it goes: 1- I have played the guitar since I was five and love to rock out. 2- I have two kids, Violet age six and Archer age eight who teach me more on a daily basis than any book I’ve ever read. 3- I am a third generation Miami native.

Is there any additional information you want to share with our readers?
I’m always ready to talk – call me and we’ll figure it out together!

How can someone contact you and your team?

Monte Nido Admissions Line: 888.228.1253

Clementine Admissions Line: 855.900.2221

Oliver-Pyatt Centers Admissions Line: 866.511.4325


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.

To learn more about our newest location, Clementine Briarcliff Manorplease reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.

Finding Your Passion with Career Testing


Associate Director of Clinical Research and Clinical Outcomes Dr. Jessica Genet, PhD explores the importance of finding a passion; whether that includes hobbies, extracurricular activities, a major in college, or a career path. Career assessments and further exploration in therapy allow clients to understand their preferences, values and interests, and offers guidance toward following a true passion. 

“Individuals working to break free from the tangle of eating disorders need to find their passions in life… By passions I mean something external that gives the individual enjoyment, positive structure, or a pathway to self-knowledge.”
– Ira M Sacker, M.D., Author of “Regaining Your Self”

We strive to help our patients explore their passions and live a more meaningful life. Unfortunately, the eating disorder is often so preoccupying and all-consuming that it interferes with the process of exploring interests and engaging in fun activities. Some of our clients struggle to find a job, a major in college, hobbies or extracurricular activities that bring them true enjoyment. Other clients have chosen paths and activities that “look good” externally (and bring them praise from family and friends) but are internally unrewarding. With these struggles in mind, all aspects of our treatment at Clementine, from therapy sessions and yoga classes to outings in the community, aim to help our patients find their passions, explore new activities, and find what brings them true happiness.

One particularly unique service we offer at Clementine is the opportunity to complete a career assessment. Career assessments are designed to help individuals understand their preferences, values and interests, and offers guidance towards selecting majors in school, jobs, career paths, and hobbies that are motivating and rewarding. Are you a person who tends to make decisions based on personal values or are you someone who tends to make decisions based on logic? Are you a person who prefers working on teams or prefers accomplishing tasks independently? Are you excited about activities that require self-expression and creativity? Are you interested in the helping professions such as teaching? These are just some of the questions a career assessment will explore. It is important to understand that a career assessment is not a magic eight ball and will not spit out an answer like “you must become a teacher.” Instead, it offers a springboard for discussion on these topics, leaving plenty of space for personal reflection and choice. Career assessments offer more than guidance on career or job choices; many of our clients describe the experience as an opportunity for self-discovery. We are delighted to provide this service to our clients.


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.

To learn more about our newest location, Clementine Briarcliff Manor, please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.

Making Mango Memories


Clementine Miami Pinecrest Dietitian Alyssa Mitola, MS, RD, LD/N shares about a special tradition held each year at Pinecrest in this week’s blog post! The yearly Mango Jam Jamboree is an event for staff and clients that includes gathering the mangos, preparing the dish, and sharing the food together. Read on to learn about this special Clementine Pinecrest tradition…

It is that time of year again! The 3rd Annual Clementine Pinecrest Mango Jam Jamboree. Every year, when the mangos begin to ripen, staff and clients at Clementine Pinecrest gather round to make clementine mango jam in our PJs, while jamming to some of our favorite tunes. This tradition started when we first discovered the numerous mango trees growing in our very backyard. Throughout the summer months we always incorporate a variety of mango dishes into our local fare menu-there is nothing more local than the backyard. However, the highlight of mango season is always the Jamboree.

The Mango Jam Jamboree has become notorious among staff and clients alike. Stories of Mango Jams past are shared among clients and the staff always wants to work on the day of the jam. Of course, we can never predict when the jam will be because, like all things in nature, they ripen on their own time. One year the jam happened in May, another it wasn’t until July. You can’t put a time limit on a developing fruit— a lesson we always share with our clients, as well. Waiting for the fruit to ripen is always a reminder to practice flexibility and patience.

The Clementine Mango Jam Jamboree is filled with many lessons. It is not just a fun event for staff and clients, it is an opportunity for corrective experiences with food. Traditions are very important in families and so often traditions include food. An eating disorder often infiltrates family traditions, sometimes tarnishing the memories, or even leading some families to change traditions. Creating new traditions or healing old ones is a very important step in healing your family’s relationship with food.

The Clementine Mango Jam Jamboree is one tradition, we have here, but I always encourage our families to create positive traditions when the clients return home. Whether it is baking cookies, developing a family recipe, or cooking each week, traditions provide consistency and foster a relationship with food beyond nutrition facts. It doesn’t matter what stage of recovery you are in, there is always an opportunity to have corrective experiences with food. There is nothing I love more than watching the clients enjoy the mango jam on a fresh croissant or laughing in the kitchen as they mash the jam. Clients are always shocked how easy it is to make. For that one moment, the clients aren’t counting calories, they are creating memories.

As a registered dietitian, it is important for me to foster these opportunities throughout recovery. During the Jam, I walk clients through the experience of gathering mangos, preparing the dish, and sharing the food together. Our clients walk away with a greater appreciation for the food on their plates-a mindfulness practice we call gratitude. In Hindu culture mangos are viewed as a symbol of life. Our hope is for each client to walk out our doors and begin her recovered life. Each year, our Clementine Mango Jam reminds me of that very goal. For that hour, we celebrate the lives of all those fighting for recovery.

Clementine Mango Jam

1 – 2 mangos
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed clementines or oranges

Place all ingredients in a small pot over high heat. Stir until the mixture thickens and begins to gel. Spread on your a croissants, english muffin, or your favorite type of toast.


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.

To learn more about our newest location, Clementine Briarcliff Manor, please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.

Article Spotlight


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.


Simple Living: Creating the Best Version of Myself NEDA

9 Things I Wish I Knew at the Start of Recovery Project Heal 

When You Have an Eating Disorder…and Your Child Does, Too More Love

9 Ways to Improve Body Image InnerSolutions

A Simple Strategy to Help Worried Kids Psychology Today

Caution, Moms: Your Daughters are Listening Psychology Today


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.

To learn more about our newest location, Clementine Briarcliff Manor, please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.



10 Self-Care Tips for Caregivers

Becky Henry is trained as a Certified, Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC) and uses those skills to guide families to let go of fear and panic, learn self-care skills and become effective guides for their loved one in eating disorder recovery. In this week’s blog post, Becky shares valuable self-care tips for caregivers.. 

Loving and caring about someone who is in recovery from an eating disorder likely has left you feeling hopeless, helpless, overwhelmed, terrified, upset, confused and more.

When your loved one is over 18 you might fear there is nothing you can do to help them with recovery from one of these deadly brain illnesses.

There is HOPE! There are plenty of things you can do to both help your child in recovery (no matter their age) and help yourself. I’m sharing 10 simple self-care tips with you to try so you can practice self-care and more easily and effectively help your loved one. But first, just like they say on the airplane, you must put on your oxygen mask first!

Doing things you enjoy while you have a child who is so sick may seem selfish and counter intuitive but it is essential to practice extreme self-care. This is a crisis and your child needs a parent who is in top form and ready to go to bat for them. So, let’s do it!


  1. Send those fears on a hike!Literally! First, notice that you’re having a fear response. That’s the tricky part. Then consciously CHOOSE to send fears on a hike. Last, CHOOSE another much more useful and fun thing to think about. And then if you like, take your own hike – without the fears.
  2. Make sure you’re included in the treatment team.The evidence is increasingly showing that when the family is included, the treatment outcomes improve. The chemical dependency world has known this for over 30 years.  They have also been huge proponents of caregiver self-care.
  3. Learn skills for being calm, emotionally objective and confident.This may include some DBT SKills. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) helps anyone with mindfulness and distress tolerance. When we are mindful and have managed our distress, we can be calmer. Being calm helps us be rational in our decisions so we can then cope with the wild things the eating disorder will throw at us. Doing our part to preserve our sanity and health helps us remain calm so we can actively preserve relationships. That doesn’t mean it is going to be all wine and roses, but we can do our best to show the person in recovery that they are loved. Not an easy task with someone who often thinks they are unlovable and has their thoughts distorted by the eating disorder.
  4. Make a Top 10 List.What’s this you say? When I was learning how to be a more effective parent of someone with an eating disorder, someone gave me one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten. She said, You’re in crisis, practice extreme self-care, and make a TOP 10 List of things that fill you up.” This seemed selfish to me at that point, but I get it now. It was hard to fit it in some days with all the work of helping my daughter.

We cannot pour anything out of an empty cup. 

So, you out there-yes you, making sure someone else’s needs are being met…it’s time. Get the nice paper (or any old thing) and make a list of 10 things you love to do, that fill you up. And then…do at least one EVERY DAY. Yes, every day. This will fill your cup up and make you an even better caregiver or “carer” as our friends in the UK say.

It might seem such a small thing to do but it is essential. If you are burned out, you will be of no use to your loved one. They need you, and they need you to be strong. So, do the right thing and go fill yourself up! You are the one who is on the front lines; you’re getting the full brunt of the eating disorder’s wrath. You need extra defenses.

  1. Get support.This may be connecting with others who’ve been through this journey, paying a coach or therapist to guide you or attending a support group.
  2. Learn caregiver skills.An essential piece of self-care. Training on how to be an effective caregiver is available and research is now showing how effective it can be in reducing caregiver anxiety, distress and burden. Check out the research done at Kings College in London by Dr. Janet Treasure. 
  3. Eat regular meals.This may seem obvious…yet in the throes of the chaos your own eating can get off kilter. Your child needs to see you modeling regular eating habits.
  4. Commit to getting ENOUGH sleep.This may feel impossible due to the worries that seem to stream through our brains while in the midst of saving a child’s life. AND, with some practice and support we can get regular good sleep.
  5. Get out in nature and move in a joyful way. Do whatever fills you up and commit to leaving Ed behind. Okay, it doesn’t have to be biking ‘no-handed’ on a beach but let it be fun. Try to notice your surroundings.
  6. Practice Gratitude. There is so much evidence now on how being grateful reduces stress. And even the act of trying to think of things to be grateful for helps our brains produce more feel good chemicals. Give it a try!

Okay, as you get your oxygen mask in place, here are resources to keep you supported and involved as a family member:


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

To learn more about our newest location, Clementine Briarcliff Manor, please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.

Our Clementine Family: Megan Fahey, MS, RD, CDN


Clementine Briarcliff Manor Registered Dietitian Megan Fahey, MS, RD, CDN shares her personal journey to joining the Briarcliff Manor team in this week’s “Our Clementine Family”. Megan gives an inside look at her daily work in supporting adolescents on their path to full recovery. Read on to learn more about Megan and the Briarcliff Manor team.

What is your name and what are your credentials?

My name is Megan Fahey, MS, RD, CDN. I am a Registered Dietitian with a Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Bastyr University.

Please give us a brief description of your background.

I have always been intrigued by the mind-body connection, and am passionate about applying my knowledge of nutrition to promote physical, mental, and emotional healing. Through previous work in acute care and private practice settings, I have gained experience developing and implementing detailed nutrition care plans for adolescents and their families.

What does a typical day look like for you at Clementine?

My days consist of organizing menus in the kitchen, reviewing medical information in the office, and holding individual and group nutrition therapy sessions with our clients. I run weekly lunch outings to local restaurants, as well as weekly cooking groups to provide a variety of food exposures. As the adolescents progress through treatment, I also teach them the skills necessary to portion food in accordance with their meal plans. I keep in constant communication with the adolescents’ outpatient teams and families in order to collaborate on nutrition-related care and create a smooth discharge home. My daily goal is to help each adolescent feel energized and empowered by learning how to nourish her body in a mindful way.

In your own words, please describe the philosophy of Clementine.

At Clementine the goal is to provide adolescents with the tools required to let go of an eating disorder and re-engage in a healthy, well-nourished life. We reject the diet mentality, embracing that all food is fuel and that healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Through an improvement in nutritional status and exploration of deep emotional work, we truly believe everyone can experience the freedom of full recovery from an eating disorder.

How does your team work together? How do your roles overlap and differ?

The clinical team at Clementine shares office space, which fosters an environment of collaboration and professional support. We hold weekly team meetings to discuss every component of the client’s care. Although each practitioner offers a unique skill set, we are constantly learning from one another in order to enhance our treatment approach as a team. I work closely with the chef, clinicians, and recovery coaches to create a supportive eating environment to help ease the anxiety that arises around meal times. I value our model of open and honest communication and admire the strength and empathy shown by each and every team member.

What is your favorite thing about Clementine?

I am humbled to work in a role that allows me to witness the powerful, healing journey of eating disorder recovery. The adolescents who enter our home are some of the most insightful, kind, and intelligent individuals whom I have ever met. In working specifically with adolescents, I am reminded to view the world through a lens of curiosity and possibility.  As an added bonus, the adolescents keep me up-to-date on the latest social and pop culture trends!

What are three facts about you that people do not know?

  1. My paternal family lives on a farm in Ireland. I spend time every year on their beautiful land and have always believed that those “roots” influenced my desire to pursue a degree in nutrition.
  2. I love to read and write and have kept journals regularly since the age of 8. The tattered, worn stack of journals sits at my nightstand and I almost never travel without something to write in.
  3. My absolute favorite movie is “The Little Mermaid” and as a child I dreamt of being able to live and breathe underwater.


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.

To learn more about our newest location, Clementine Briarcliff Manor, please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.

The Impact of Social Media


Senior Director of East Coast Clinical Programming Dr. Melissa Coffin, PhD, CEDS discusses the impact social media is having on our every day lives. In this week’s post, Dr. Coffin shares how you can ensure these outlets are being utilized for positive benefits as opposed to negative results. 

For some, technology is the first thing they check when they wake up, and the last thing they do before bed. Over the last few years, we have become a society attached to our devices. Recent data on this topic shows that some people are checking their technology, most notably their social media pages, more than 10 times a day while some are spending hours in this pursuit.

When it comes to social media, we are all still trying to keep up, including the field of eating disorders. Unfortunately, some research is showing that use of social media is increasingly correlated with depressive symptoms as a result of the inherent issues of acceptance, competition, and attention that present themselves in this domain (Chicago Tribune, 2013). Women working on recovery from body and food issues frequently mention comparing themselves to others, feeling inferior and having increased body image concerns as a result of their social media usage.

However, at Clementine adolescent treatment programs we are invested in helping our adolescents develop a healthy and mindful relationship with their technology, just as they are working on a relationship with food and their bodies. If time is spent on social media comparing to others, it can result in feelings of inferiority and dissatisfaction. Instead, if time is spent connecting with others, it can result in new and improved relationships and increased positive feelings. Monet Eliastam’s quote below captures this idea beautifully.

Imagine if social media became a place where we shared our dreams instead of hiding our faults, where we collaborated in conversation instead of trolling anonymously, where we felt included instead of excluded. We need to reinvent the online community to cultivate a safer, more diverse, more welcoming environment where we value people for generating thoughts, not likes… We have an incredible tool in our hands, we need to use it to change the world.

So, let’s embrace the world of technology and the interfaces that social provides us. The fact that you are reading this blog right now suggests you are looking for positive ways to spend your time and energy online. Thanks for doing so and share your positive experiences both on and offline with those you love.


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.

To learn more about our newest location, Clementine Briarcliff Manor, please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.

Raising Resilient Kids in a Fat Shaming World


Judith Matz, LCSW is a therapist, author and speaker specializing in eating and body image issues. Her books, The Diet Survivor’s Handbook and Beyond a Shadow of a Diet, have helped thousands of people make peace with food and their bodies. Her newest book, Amanda’s Big Dream, helps kids to feel strong and confident in their bodies—at any size! In this week’s blog post, Judith discusses how to support kids to have a positive body image.

We want our kids to grow up feeling strong and confident in their bodies. We’ve learned a lot about what to do—and what not to do—to promote a positive body image. We know better than to comment on other people’s weight and engage in diet talk in front of our kids. We model self-care behaviors and teach them values related to diversity in all areas, including body size.

But what happens when our children walk into the world?

No matter how well we teach our kids that bodies come in all shapes and sizes—that all bodies deserve respect and need to be taken care of—they’re going to come up against fat shaming messages that teach them something completely different:

  •      The teacher who turns down the birthday cupcake because “it’s too fattening.”
  •      The TV commercial they overhear touting the newest diet plan.
  •      The kids on the playground they hear being called names because of their body size.
  •      The medical professional who says, “you’d better watch your weight.”
  •      The friend’s parent who comments that they’re eating too many cookies.

And the list goes on and on and on.

We do our best to correct the messages they’re getting but, of course, they don’t tell us everything (and they don’t always listen to us, either!). The day comes when your six-year-old asks, “Mommy, am I too fat?” or your 12-year-old begins to diet or your 16-year-old develops an eating disorder. It’s a tough world out there.

But here’s where our greatest power lies as caretakers of kids: we can give them the gift of resiliency.

Resilience (noun) or Resiliency (noun): Able to recover quickly from misfortune; able to return to original form after being bent, compressed, or stretched out of shape. A human ability to recover quickly from disruptive change, or misfortune without being overwhelmed or acting in dysfunctional or harmful ways.

I believe we help facilitate that resiliency when we pass our wisdom about body acceptance down to our kids. We do that when we practice attuned/intuitive eating. We do that when we participate in physical activities we enjoy, rather than for the pursuit of weight loss. We do that when we refrain from making negative comments about our own bodies.

I was reminded of how crucial our attitudes are when the topic of male/female dating came up at an all-day training I offered to mental health professionals on the treatment of Binge Eating Disorder. A participant raised her hand and said she faced the following dilemma: “The reality is that for my 20 something clients, it’s impossible to date at a higher weight, so I have to help them do something about that.”

I was about to respond to her about the problems with that point of view when another audience member shared her wisdom:

I’m a stepmom to two girls. Ava is thinner, and Talia is heavier. As we prepared to go on our trip to Mexico, Talia complained that she didn’t want to go. She said she was uncomfortable with her clothes and didn’t have anything that fit. I took her shopping and made sure she had some nice things for the beach.

Once we got there Talia was surprised to find that she got lots of attention from boys. In Mexico, there was a preference for a fuller body. Talia relaxed and had a great time.

And then we got home. Again, she expressed how bad she felt in her body. I said to her, “Talia, you were beautiful in Mexico and you’re beautiful here. It’s the same body, and we love you.”

As I think about the messages that the first participant was sending to her clients I imagine them concluding:

  •      Men prefer thinner women.
  •      You need to change your body if you want to date.
  •      It’s worth engaging in disordered eating behaviors to lose weight so that you can be happy, sexy and successful.

Then I compare that to the different message offered to Talia:

  •      You are beautiful.
  •      Men will find you attractive in the body you have.
  •      You are loved at any size.

If our kids struggle with these issues, messages we’ve offered that reinforce the pursuit of weight loss as important and valuable will add to their shame. On the other hand, messages of support, respect, and kindness around body size diversity throughout their lives will give them a positive place to return to.

We can’t fully protect our children from the body shaming they’ll encounter in a culture where disordered eating is normative and weight stigma persists. But we can give them a strong foundation in valuing body positivity and normal eating, so they’re more likely to recover quickly – to be resilient – in the face of struggles with food and weight.

As I always like to say: What we do, what we say, and even what we think, matters.

You have lots of power in the lives of the kids you touch. Knowing what we do about how painful and destructive struggles with eating and weight can be, it’s difficult to watch the kids we love deal with these issues. However, the attitudes we pass down will strengthen them in their relationship with food and their bodies so they’re able to reject fat shaming messages that are present everywhere in our culture.

But the reality is we can do our best, do the “right” things, and they may still struggle. We need to remember that we’re only one influence in their complex lives. They will have their own journey in figuring out how to be comfortable at any size and to take care of their bodies. We can rest assured that the seeds of acceptance we planted in their formative years will give them the greatest possibility of befriending their body and finding peace with food.

And if you haven’t been doing that – after all, you may have your own internalized body shame – it’s never too late to sit down with your kids and share with them that you’re learning some new ways to think about body size.


Originally published on the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) blog and republished here with their permission. 


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