Identifying Eating Disorder Red Flags in Your College Students

|
Becky Henry, a coach for parents of kids with eating disorders, and Kathleen MacDonald of the Eating Disorders Coalition identify potential red flag warning signs that your college student might be developing an eating disorder. Becky and Kathleen bring over 30 years of combined personal and professional experience in the field of eating disorders, as: parent & coach and someone who suffered an eating disorder while in college, is now recovery & previous policy director.


Most college students, have been primed on how not to gain the “fresh man 15.” But likely haven’t been primed on just how dangerous trying to avoid gaining weight as a freshman can be. If you are reading this article you likely have some concerns about your college student’s health. We want to help you feel capable of helping your child, and give you motivation to take action if you notice any of the following “red flags”:

  • Isolating from friends and family, or events
  • Dieting and/or skipping meals
  • Cutting
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • More prominent or obsessive exercising
  • Becoming very secretive and irritable, especially about food or meals
  • When your child comes home for their 1st break (ie: fall, winter), you notice a change in weight that you haven’t noticed before (this could be a gain or loss)
  • Abrasion on knuckles (a result of self-induced vomiting)
  • Use of laxatives, diet pills/diuretics, self-induced vomiting, enemas
  • Trips to the bathroom during, or immediately following, meals
  • Increasing criticism of their body or the body’s of others
  • Increased talk about food, weight, calories, fat, etc.
  • Complaining of being cold (especially fingers and toes)
  • Increased consumption of diet soda or water
  • Increased perfectionism
  • Rules and rituals around food
  • Avoiding eating favorite foods
  • Discomfort in fitted clothes, wearing loose clothing

What happens if you see a few, or more, of these red flags? Your heart rate might have increased and your mind is racing with thoughts like, “Oh my gosh, does my child have an eating disorder?!”  We encourage you to take a deep breath. Many of the signs and symptoms we listed above can unfortunately be typical of a college student who is experimenting with behaviors that they witnessed on campus, and they might not indicate a full blown eating disorder. Still, these are very dangerous behaviors and signs, which need to be monitored closely, especially if your child is predisposed to developing an eating disorder.

How do you help?

You’re already doing the first right thing by reading recent articles from respected leaders in the eating disorders field. We encourage you to be careful of older, outdated, information on eating disorders, as there is a lot out there that is inaccurate and not based on current research. For example, in the past, the dieting that college students engage in to avoid the media-devised, “freshman 15” was seen as “a phase” and something all women did. Now we know that dieting can evolve quickly and be the precursor to developing an eating disorder.

Next, you want to talk with your loved one. Share your concerns and what you have noticed. Be direct and compassionate. Listen but do not let them brush off your concerns with classic phrases such as, “I’m fine!” or, “There’s nothing to worry about, just look at me!” Those phrases deserve further conversation, ask what they mean by that and tell them what you don’t think is “fine” about their behaviors, mood and symptoms.

Be mindful not to “kvetch” with your son or daughter about your weight-loss goals, body dissatisfaction and/or suggest dieting together. Too often these things are seen as a sign that, “See, if mom is doing it, then it must be OK. I must be fine.”

Then, you’ll want a plan in place for next steps if indeed you discover that your loved one is suffering from more than just a few unhealthy behaviors regarding their body, nourishment and the freshman 15. If you realize that the red flags you’ve noticed are signs of something more serious (trust your gut), then you need to get your student to an eating disorder professional ASAP. You can find great resources here and on our websites at www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org and www.eatingdisorderfamilysupport.com

During this process, remember that boundaries are a beautiful thing. Boundaries are not mean or uncaring, (though it may feel that way when you’re learning them). And sometimes boundaries include invoking “tough-love.” You may need to dig deep and find a strength you didn’t know you had, in order to set some tough love into place and help motivate your student to participate in seeking an evaluation and potentially stay home from school to attend treatment.

These are just a few tips for how to recognize an eating disorder and how to get help for your loved one if they are suffering.

The better informed you are, the better you can help your loved one.  

Remember that eating disorders are serious, but there is hope. People can and do recover and treatment works. There is a wide-range of treatment options available, including on college campuses, so please know you are not alone and there is help available.

Most of all we encourage you to remember that: If your loved one isn’t healthy enough to return to college, it’s OK –there is NO harm in taking time off for treatment.

Remember:

  • College will be there, waiting for you to pay tuition, when your loved one is healthy.
  • If your college student had cancer, a semester (or two, or five) off in order for them to receive chemotherapy wouldn’t likely cause you to think twice; in fact you’d likely view treatment as “urgent.”
  • A semester (or two, or five) off, in order for your loved one to get treatment for a dangerous and all-too-often deadly eating disorder, is just as urgent.
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.

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.


A Father’s Heart, An Open Letter

|

Don Blackwell is a Trial Attorney with extensive experience in the eating disorder community. He has a unique perspective which he often shares through his honest and heartfelt writing. In this week’s post, Don shares a heartfelt letter on behalf of all dads to their daughters.

Dads are somewhat notorious for being poor communicators where feelings are concerned and, for some reason, that’s particularly true when it comes to their daughters. Regrettably, daughters often interpret their fathers’ silence (or awkwardness) in the face of life circumstances that demand (or would greatly benefit from) a heightened degree of vulnerability to mean that their dad is disinterested in them, lacks empathy or, worse yet, is simply insensitive to their needs.  Sometimes, daughters harbor those perceptions for the better part of a lifetime. And yet, nothing could be further from the truth! To the contrary, if the men I met during the course of our daughter’s illness (and, more recently, at conferences and webinars that I’ve been privileged to host) are fairly representative of the whole (and I believe they are), most dads care deeply about their daughters. Moreover, though we may sometimes appear to be “clueless” as to how to go about accomplishing it, I suspect every dad silently thirsts for a closer (i.e., more emotionally intimate) relationship with their daughter. I certainly do and while lately I think I’ve done a better job of figuring things out – at least where the vulnerability piece is concerned – I know all too well the sense of longing for (and uncertainty of the means to achieve) that objective, which is what led me to write this post.  So, if my fellow dads will permit me, I thought I’d share a few “secrets” of our own collective hearts in the form of an “open letter” to daughters everywhere, who may still be wondering about us and, more critically, about our feelings towards them:

To Our Little Girls –

It seems like only yesterday that we held you in our arms for the first time.

It was love at first sight.

From that moment on, you’ve held a very special place in our hearts – a place reserved only for you.

When you were little, it was “easy” to let you know that.  We could hold you tight, comfort you when you were sad, tell you bedtime stories and tuck you in – and we did.  You probably don’t remember those special father/daughter moments, but we do. 

But, as you grew older, things got more complicated for us where you were concerned.

You were becoming young women, perhaps before both of us were ready for all those changes – and we weren’t at all sure how to respond, how we fit in to your emerging womanhood.

We wondered if it was still “okay” to hold to you as tightly as we once did (or hold you at all), to kiss you, to tuck you into bed – to dry your tears and comfort you.

We looked for other ways to stay connected with you and share our love, ways to stay engaged in your life, to discern the role you wanted us to play as you entered your teenage years, but we confess we struggled with that – a lot.

We assumed, without asking, that your mom was the person you wanted/needed for all those “girl (and boyfriend) things” and that you would let us know if/when you needed us and how we could help.

Between your mom and your friends (who took on an increasingly important role in your life), it seemed like you were doing “just fine” and growing more independent (and less in need of us) with each passing day. 

Part of us was content to watch you grow, but we missed you – we missed “us”.

Only now have we come to realize, however, that we may have missed the most important thing of all – the realization that you were missing us too and maybe even misconstruing our distance and seeming “absence” as indifference.

If only we had known then what we know now. 

If only, rather than trying to “guess” at what each other was thinking or hoping one of us “would get it” from the unspoken “bread crumbs” we were leaving in each others’ lives, we had simply talked, allowed ourselves to be more vulnerable with one another.

Maybe we could both be a little better about that going forward?

In the meantime, lest there be any doubt in your mind, know this . . .

there has never been a day since you were born when we haven’t loved you, 

a moment that has passed when we haven’t thought of you,

an occasion where we weren’t proud of you or felt disappointed in you or

a time that we wanted anything but what was best for you –

today is no exception, nor will tomorrow be.

Because, while we may not always be great at showing it, let alone expressing it (!), we love you and we value you!

Your Dads

 

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.


How Are You Teaching Others to Treat You?

|

Clementine South Miami Primary Therapist Josephine Wiseheart, MS contributed to an article published on PsychCentral, “What It Means To Teach People How To Treat You.” The full, original article can be accessed here. The article explores the importance of and your own role in teaching others how to treat you. Please enjoy an excerpt of the article below…

Start with yourself.

“[T]o teach people how to treat you, you do not begin with them, you begin with yourself,” said Wiseheart. Morgan agreed: “The way you believe about and treat yourself sets the standard for others on how you demand to be treated. People learn how to treat you based on what you accept from them.”

Wiseheart regularly tells her clients to “Be the pebble.” In other words, “to create even a seemingly small amount of change will ripple out and create more change.”

Teaching others how to treat us starts with self-awareness, Wiseheart said. She suggested asking yourself these questions: “How do I treat myself? What do I value? What do I want? What do I think I deserve?”

Remember that you can’t change anyone else. But we can “create a different reaction in others if we change ourselves,” she said.

Talk about your “rules of engagement.”
One of the biggest misconceptions Wiseheart’s clients have about relationships is that others should know how they want to be treated. However, “in order for people in a relationship to be on the same page, they need to have access to the same instruction manual,” she said.

She calls this manual the “Rules of Engagement.” She suggests having “business meetings” to discuss the “rules” of your relationship. Have these meetings when people are at their best: They aren’t in an emotionally heightened or vulnerable situation, she said.

Rules might include no name calling or yelling during a conversation, and taking a break when tempers flare.

Communicate your needs clearly and compassionately.
For instance, many couples criticize, yell, or give each other the silent treatment to communicate their needs, said Morgan, who practices at Wasatch Family Therapy. This not only is ineffective, but it also hurts your relationship.

“Rather than scream ‘you never listen to me,’ it is more helpful to express ‘I feel alone right now and I would be very grateful if I could have your undivided attention for 10 minutes,’” he said. Another example is: “I am feeling overwhelmed right now and would love it if I could get a few ideas from you.”

In other words, we teach people how to treat us when we can identify a need and then express it in a clear and comprehensible way, Morgan said.

“If we use pouting, desperation, or even abuse, people do not learn how we want to be treated. All they hear is pouting, desperation and screaming. The message does not get across.”

Model how you’d like to be treated.
Wiseheart also often tells clients to “Be the person you want other people to be.” That is, treat others the way you want them to treat you, which is reminiscent of the Golden Rule, she said.

“If you want your children to be kind to you, be kind to them; if you want your sweetheart to be romantic and affectionate with you, be that way with them.” If you want others to listen to you, listen to them. Focus your full attention on the person, maintain eye contact, ask questions, validate their feelings and be empathetic, Wiseheart said.

Reinforce behaviors you like.
Reinforcement simply means expressing appreciation when the other person makes the effort to change their behavior, Wiseheart said. For instance, you might say: “I appreciate that you listened to me so intently yesterday.”

“Reinforce [behaviors you like] at the time, 5 minutes later, 10 minutes later, an hour later, a day later, 10 days later. You cannot reinforce a positive behavior enough.”

Pick a role model to emulate.
“Find a role model of someone who demands respect and appears to have a strong sense of worth,” Morgan said. This person might be a parent, peer, friend, teacher, coach, therapist, mentor or even a well-known celebrity, he said. “The important component of a role model is that they are emulating the desired beliefs and behaviors that you would like to adopt or integrate.”

Have realistic expectations.
According to Wiseheart, “You don’t teach people how to treat you in a day, or a week, or a month; it probably takes many months at a minimum to really get someone to treat you the way that you want to be treated.” This process takes lots of practice and patience. And sometimes, people are too caught up in being rigid and defending their own reality to try to act differently, she said.

When you start clarifying what you will and won’t tolerate there’s also a risk that some people won’t stick around, Wiseheart said. “At that point, you need to ask yourself what’s in your best interest — a relationship at the cost of you, or making room for the future relationships that you deserve?”

For the full article, written by Margarita Tartavosky, MS who writes her own blog, Weightless, please visit here. Marriage and Family Therapist Michael Morgan, of Wasatch Family Therapy, also contributed to the article.

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 visit or tour a Clementine location with one of our clinical leaders, please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.


If She Were Your Daughter, What Would You Do?

|

LaurenOzboltClementineBlogClementine Medical Director Lauren Ozbolt, MD is board certified in adolescent, adult and child psychiatry. She oversees the psychiatric care and attending psychiatrists at all Clementine locations. In her post, Dr. Ozbolt shares some the work being done at Clementine and the commitment the staff has to each adolescent’s recovery.

I can recall first wanting to become a physician when my mother would take me to the pediatrician’s office when I was feeling sick as a child. Often times my doctor would sit next to me and calmly explain what he felt was going on and all the options for treatment that were available. My mother would always reply in the same way whether I had the flu or needed hospitalization. She would say, “If she were your daughter…what would you do?” To this day, that is how I think about the adolescents we treat, and that is the approach that permeates the air at Clementine. With each adolescent we think, “If this was my daughter, what would I do…”

Here’s what we would do…

At Clementine, your daughter’s psychiatrist takes the time to get to know the girl underneath the eating disorder. We empower and equip her with the tools – whether they be therapy, medication or both – to help her overcome her eating disorder. We feel the best kind of care is collaborative care and we invest a great deal of time in making parents “experts” on the most innovative treatments, neurobiological causes and the latest research in the field of eating disorders. We feel in order to treat a disease it is important for you and your daughter to fully understand the illness and our rationale for treatment. At the heart of Clementine program is a commitment to your daughter.

 While education about treatment of eating disorders is invaluable, it is only a part in what makes out treatment unique. We truly delight in knowing her and your family and take pride in aligning ourselves with you. At Clementine, your daughter’s future goals, become our goals and hence starts a beautiful restorative process of getting her back on track to become the amazing young woman she is destined to become.

 

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 visit or tour a Clementine location with one of our clinical leaders, please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.


Q&A: A parent’s view on the treatment of and recovery from an eating disorder

|

clementine-oregon-01

We had the great honor to speak with a mother who shared her own first-hand experience of an eating disorder within her family. She works tirelessly to promote eating disorder knowledge, awareness, and recovery through her own advocacy work. This week’s blog post gives insight into a her personal view of treatment, recovery, and the experience of eating disorders within the family unit.

What behaviors should families be aware of within the home and at meals? What are the warning signs your loved one has an eating disorder?

CM: The big thing is a change in behavior and eating habits. It [eating disorders] can change its face for different people so look for any type of drastic change in behavior or eating habits. Be aware of an an overall increased focus on food that was not present before; an obsession with cooking and baking, but no participation in eating the item, watching cooking shows, completing research on recipes and creating elaborate meals, but not actually eating the meals themselves, etc. Some loved ones may begin eating in a ritualistic manner or finding excuses not to eat food. Some loved ones may begin eliminating food groups, begin dieting, or become a vegetarian or vegan for no particular reason. A health focus can lead to restriction of different food groups, quality or quantity of food groups, that leads to more and more restriction; and excessive water loading before or during meals.

Look not only for changes in eating behaviors, but also changes in overall behaviors and social behaviors; for example, loved ones may start withdrawing from friends and family, won’t eat in public, don’t want to attend events that will involve food, and will eventually not want to attend public events at all.

Additional warning signs may include constant body comparison and body image issues, obsession with weight, size, shape, constant weighing, and isolation, excessive and ritualistic exercise, rigid beliefs and actions around food, exercise, body image, and behaviors, decompensation of mental functioning, dramatic and quick mood swings, inability to retain information, emotional unbalance, or physical symptoms such as lanugo, extremities turning blue, etc.

Keep in mind that significant weight loss may not occur for all individuals struggling with disordered eating; while weight may remain constant, focus on changes in the behaviors of your loved ones.

What was helpful in getting your loved one to commit to treatment?

CM: Parents have to call it as they see it and have to be an ally for their loved one. Many times parents are in denial that something is wrong. You have to send a clear and steady message that your loved one is decompensating while providing specific examples, work together with your loved ones’ outpatient team, and express your support with a statement such as, “I am not going to stand by while these things are happening.” Parents need to address the situation calmly and rationally, explain the behaviors you are witnessing and why you feel he or she needs to attend treatment.

Be aware that as a parent, you have a different view of your loved one than her outpatient team. There are times the loved one may be able to put on a “healthy face” for the outpatient team or while at home and act as if they are doing well. At times, it may require the parents of the loved one to care for the individual and spearhead the path to treatment.

How does a parent know their loved one needs to go to treatment?

CM: When things aren’t getting better, even in outpatient treatment. When your loved ones’ entire life is falling apart. When you are in a living hell at home. When there is decompensation in all areas. Everything is screaming that your loved one needs residential or inpatient treatment and it is obvious she needs much more support. Remember it [the eating disorder] is not just a phase and it will not go away without proper treatment.

Parents may become very frustrated with their loved one. Their loved one may say they do not need help or support. Parents have to remember that eating disorders are not a choice and that their child is not an eating disorder. It is important to remain your child’s ally and to avoid becoming confrontational. Do not get on the roller coaster with the child. Be supportive, but also separate the disorder from your child – externalize the illness.

There are times when your loved one is not in the position to say yes to treatment and you will have to eliminate all other options. You have to say, “You need help, this is serious. You have two options: going to treatment or going to the hospital.” Parents cannot negotiate with treatment, but should include the child in the decision (i.e. provide specific examples of the behaviors and decompensation witnessed and why you feel your loved one should enter treatment). Paint the picture very calmly, express love and concern for your loved one’s wellbeing, and then provide one combined option of treatment and support. Do not let it become a battle because then you are also battling with the eating disorder.

What was successful in treatment (i.e. family therapy, phone calls from clinical team, family Friday)?

CM: Therapy with the entire family is critical. Do not forget about the siblings and how they are affected during this process.

The more learning curves in the road during treatment the better (i.e. someone saying something triggering at a dinner outing, etc.) Your loved one will learn to handle experiences that are going wrong instead of everything being perfect. You want treatment to go smoothly, but you want your loved one to be able to navigate difficulties whether they be social, food, etc.

What advice would you give parents whose loved one is in treatment?

CM: School often takes priority over all else. You need to firmly establish that health is the number one priority and that school and anything else comes second to health. You cannot negotiate because of these other “important” life events. If you do, you are sending the message this is not a top priority and that getting help for your eating disorder is not urgent. Children need to understand this is urgent, this is serious, and that nothing else is more important.

Do not negotiate with the eating disorder. The minute you start negotiating with the eating disorder all bets are off.

Be clear, be firm, and do not negotiate on any level (i.e. becoming vegan, staying at school to finish up before treatment, coming back to school for trip or play, etc.) Do not engage in these conversations – the eating disorder will see the crack in the window and will keep picking at it.

What support do parents need or do you suggest they get while their child is in treatment?

CM: If you have questions or concerns while your loved one is in treatment, speak directly to the treatment team. Do not cast doubt on the treatment team or the treatment; your loved one could take this as an opportunity to disengage, she may begin feeling she is not sick enough to require treatment, or the eating disorder may find a way to sneak back in.

Make sure you are also taking care of yourself. You may be physically and mentally exhausted so make sure you are receiving support; whether that is through self-help books, psychotherapy, education, and understanding what it will look like when your loved one leaves treatment. Know the path to recovery will not be a straight shot and there are going to be bumps in the road.

Siblings, couples, and individual therapy are all helpful. The eating disorder can infiltrate and effect the entire family. Join an advocacy group (listed below) to find support and affect change. Find support in any way you can so you do not become isolated. Find individuals and community support from people who understand where you are coming from.

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 visit or tour a Clementine location with one of our clinical leaders, please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.


Article Spotlight

|

article-spotlight-pic
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.

In Groundbreaking Victory for Eating Disorders Prevention & Treatment, Congress Passes Historic Mental Health Reform Legislation NEDA Blog

The Use of Meditation in Children with Mental Health Issues The Psychiatric Times

Transitioning Back to College after Winter Break while in Recovery Eating Disorder Hope

3 Reasons to Let Yourself Feel Your Emotions Psychology Today

Holidays & Hungry Hearts: Serving Soul Food with Jenni Schaefer & Robyn Cruze Angie Viets’ Blog

Wise Words from 10 Women in Recovery About What Empowers Them to Keep Going Chime Yoga Therapy Blog

 

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 visit or tour a Clementine locations with one of our clinical leaders, please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.


Cultivating a Positive Relationship with Food

|

 

Clementine Miami Pinecrestalyssa-mitola-july-2016 Dietitan Alyssa Mitola, MS, RD, LD/N shares some of the work done with adolescents to gain a more positive relationship with food throughout the program. In her post, Alyssa gives insight into the education and support given to adolescents while at Clementine Pinecrest.

“You just need to lose a little weight.” “Eat healthier.” “We need to put you on a diet.” Countless clients with BED have endured comments such as these by friends, family, and even medical professionals. Many of our adolescents with BED arrive with significant “diet histories.” Even at the age of 16 we have had clients who have been on diets for over 10 years. How has that impacted them? The eating disorder often gets overlooked due to the focus on body weight and the false notion that restricting the diet is the only way to improve health.

All too often weight alone is used to determine “what” or “how” a person should eat. Foods are classified as “good” foods and “bad” foods. However, this misunderstanding of nutrition fails time and time again. This message often leads our clients to feel like a failure because they are unable to follow the “diet” prescribed.

Here at Clementine we recognize that weight is not the only indicator of health. When a client walks through our doors we do not cut out foods, but in fact encourage the client to re-introduce the foods they may have been previously told to “cut” out. At first this can be extremely scary for our clients and parents. Blaming the type of food has been engrained into their way of life. But as we slowly heal this relationship with food, the fear is reduced and overall health improves. Numerous times we have seen improvements in LDL (bad cholesterol) and fasting insulin levels independent of weight loss. The labs improve while this client continues to eat a variety of foods. When we begin to heal the relationship with food, we see improvements that others often think can only be achieved on a restricted diet.

This work is only started her at Clementine. Our clients continue to cultivate their relationship with food and their bodies when they return home. However, our clients can leave with improved markers of health even when the focus is not the weight. Let’s stop blaming the individual food and start looking at the power this food may wield over our children. Whether a dietitian, nurse, teacher, friend, parent, we must be careful about the nutrition information we disseminate. As we shift the talk away from weight loss and restrictive nutrition recommendations, we can start talking about our the relationship with food. When we are solely focused on the number on the scale we forget that health cannot simply measured by a number.

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 visit or tour a Clementine locations with one of our clinical leaders please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.


What If My Daughter Develops an Eating Disorder?

|

angie-color-head-shotAngie Viets, LCP is an eating disorder specialist who has dedicated her career to helping her clients recover. She shares her personal journey with an eating disorder as well as her professional experience in the field throughout her writing. In today’s post, Angie offers the unique perspective as a mother to a young daughter growing up with society’s pressures around body image. 

I’ll be honest – I worry about my sweet girl getting sucked into a world where she’s controlled by an eating disorder. Mothers have a fierce protective instinct to shield their children from harm. It is no wonder then, that the illness that consumed my every thought and decision, had damaging effects on my health, and robbed me of opportunities, would cause anxiety.

A study by the Keep It Real Campaign in 2012 reported that 80% of 10-year-old girls have been on a diet. Another study found that 50% of 3-6-year-olds worry about being fat. People often don’t realize this, however, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illnesses, as well as a high incidence of suicide. Given these grim statistics, how could I not want to spare her from this disorder; not to mention a world that is oozing with airbrushed images of objectified females.

I have a vivid memory of my daughter sitting on the kitchen counter as a toddler with nothing on but a pair of underwear and her brother’s football helmet. She’s smiling, perfectly content in a world that has yet to bombard her with messages about how she ‘should’ look. Her little tummy is full and round, just as it should be, and she’s unaware that as women we ‘should’ suck our stomachs in (who the hell came up with that idea?). I took a picture of her because I want to remind her that we ALL start out this way — playful, present in the moment, without a single worry about the body that is so miraculously allowing us to move and thrive.

My sweet Sophie is eight. In her eight years, she’s made two comments related to her body that stopped me in my tracks. The first time was in the dressing room at Gap when she realized she no longer wears a clothing size corresponding with her age. At age 8, she wears 10’s or 12’s. She genuinely seemed confused as she looked to me for an explanation.

We stopped. Right then and there, in the middle of the dressing room and had a talk sitting criss-cross applesauce on the floor. “Honey, the people that make clothes make up random numbers for what size might work for your age. It’s just a guess; that’s all. And sometimes, those guesses might work for you, but maybe not.” Her little wheels were turning, “Oh, like when people guess that I’m in the fourth grade instead of the second grade.” Relieved, “Yes, just like that.” My message was intended to let her know that her body was not “wrong,” nor had she “done something wrong.”

The other comment came when she realized she was going to be a base, instead of a flyer on her little cheer squad. “Mom, I want to be lighter so I can be a flyer. Were you a flyer when you were a cheerleader?” Internally, I was panicking because my desire to protect her is so strong and, the reality is, weight is one variable when coaches make those decisions.

Taking a deep breath, I said, “Here’s the deal sister, you are one of the oldest girls on your team, not to mention one of the very tallest girls, and that’s how they decide. If you were on a squad with girls that were older than you, you would be a flyer. And yes, I was a flyer because I wasn’t strong enough to be a base. You, on the other hand, are strong, and are likely one of the strongest girls on your squad.” She buckled her seatbelt, smiled, and flexed her guns while saying, “So what are we having for dinner tonight?”

My momma brain is highly emotional. My therapist brain, however, is logical and knows some things for sure:

  1. There is no one more qualified to know what to do if their daughter developed an eating disorder than someone who has recovered, and who has dedicated their career to helping others recover. I know the warning signs. I know early intervention is key. I’ve got this!
  1. We talk in our family about diversity, and how special it is that not everyone has the same skin color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or body type. Wouldn’t that be boring if we were all the same?
  1. We talk about strengths that are completely unrelated to appearance and more values-based. I ask, “Tell me what you did today that made you feel proud of yourself?”
  1. We also talk about when we felt ashamed, embarrassed or sad. My husband and I model this for them, saying things like, “Ugh, I felt so embarrassed today when I said something dumb in front of my colleagues.” Normalizing and actively expressing emotions, helps them get into the routine of this, so they don’t bury them and find maladaptive ways for coping.
  1. We don’t label food as “good” or “bad.” If I’m with a group of women, whether my kids are in earshot or not, if diets or body shaming comes up, I either change the subject or walk away. I don’t want them to think this is “normal” conversation. Not cool.
  1. We don’t go on diets in our house or eat separate meals from our kids. I grew up with a family member who would prepare beautiful meals and then as we all sat down to dig in, she would warm up a frozen Weight Watcher’s meal for herself. What kind of message does that send? Um, really?? So confusing!
  1. I also know that although my daughter sometimes seems like a mini-me, she’s not an extension of me. She’s her own little independent self. Yes, we share similarities, but we also have very separate stories. By the time I was her age, I had already gone through a significant trauma. Between my personality and environment, I was a prime candidate for developing an eating disorder. We are different in this way.
  1. Last, and probably most important of all, is that as mothers we desperately want to wrap our children, no matter what their age, in a protective cocoon, but we can’t. Truth be told, we wouldn’t want to either. Aren’t some of our deepest hurts and biggest failings where we learned the most about ourselves, witnessed our strength, and increased our humility?

Rumi says, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” My professional passion and purpose were born out of my pain and suffering. The years I spent in solitude with my eating disorder, and what I learned from my hard-won fight to recover has driven me like a mad woman on a mission to help others. So do I want my child to have an eating disorder, hell no, but I also know I don’t want to dismiss the beauty of what could possibly be the outcome of any of her struggles.

So, to my mommy tribe out there who worry about their babes, let’s grab each other by the hand and join in a shared mission to support each other when we hurt over their hurts. We are all in this together!

Love + Light,

Angie

*Note – Please know that I’m not dismissing the risk for males developing eating disorders – I have two beloved son’s and intend to address boys in a future post.

 

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 visit or tour a Clementine location with one of our clinical leaders, please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.


Meet Our Team: Jeanette Alonso

|

jeanette-alonso

Clementine Family Therapist Jeanette Alonso has been an integral part of the Clementine treatment team since the doors opened in 2014. Jeanette provides families and adolescents the support and care needed to heal through her family therapy sessions. Learn more about Jeanette and her work at Clementine by reading this week’s “Meet Our Team”…

 

What is your name and what are your credentials?  

My name is Jeanette Alonso. I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.  I am a Family Therapist at Clementine Pinecrest and have been since it opened its doors in October 2014.

Please give us a brief description of your background.

I attended the University of Miami where I received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Human and Social Development and then went on to complete my Master’s in Mental Health Counseling at UMiami as well.

Prior to OPC & Clementine, I worked exclusively with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and sexual trauma conducting individual, family, and group therapy where I developed an expertise in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as well as other evidenced based practices aimed at children, adolescents, and adults.  I also received certifications in Play Therapy and Infant Mental Health. In 2010, I began working at the Oliver-Pyatt Centers and worked within all programs: residential, intensive-outpatient and transitional living where I developed a specialty in the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders. I then moved into a family therapist role when Clementine opened in 2014 where I get to work closely with families and adolescents in critical need of support at a higher level of care.

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

Typically my day begins by meeting with team members to discuss the most updated clinical information on each of my cases. I then hold family sessions indoors or outdoors (weather permitting). Sessions are either done in person or via computer with parents.

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

Each client and their treatment is highly individualized and specifically addresses the needs of the client. No one client is treated the same and treatment follow up and goals are all developed from a multidisciplinary approach that captures every overall aspect necessary to treat the ED. The family oriented, loving, and warm environment is the backbone of all the work and dedication that goes into treating the ED.

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

“Teamwork is the dreamwork”. The close team approach is essential and at Clementine the team is always in close contact via email, phone, personal meetings, and shared office space that constantly lends itself to continuous process and discussion on how to best manage each client and family’s individual needs. As a family therapist, my role at times may overlap in similarity to the primary therapist role.  My specific role, however, involves more one on one contact and support to the parents as well as sessions that involve both client and parents that aims at solely focusing on the family system and the role of the ED.

What is your favorite thing about Clementine?  

My favorite aspect of Clementine has been the people I have worked with, the passion and dedication to saving lives, and the outcome stories of so many brave and beautiful women and girls that have gone on to live lives free of EDs.

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

I am terrified of lizards, I used to sing in the church choir and can actually sing, and my driver’s license says my height is 4’11” but I’m actually and inch shorter!

 

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 visit or tour a Clementine location with one of our clinical leaders, please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.