A pathway from early trauma to eating disorders by Gia & Danielle

Psychologists have long known that early traumatic experiences increase the risk of developing an eating disorder later in life. For example, people who were sexually abused as children are more likely to show signs and symptoms of eating disorders in young adulthood (1). Other studies following people from childhood into early adolescence have found that other kinds of childhood maltreatment, particularly problematic parenting behaviors by fathers, predict the development of eating and body image problems (2).

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Helping Someone with an Eating Disorder? ...Follow the Research by Gia & Danielle

It can extremely scary, overwhelming and frustrating to provide assistance to a friend or family member who is trying to recover from an eating disorder. These illnesses are stubborn, life threatening and characterized by ambivalence. If you are wondering what to do to help, recent research sheds some light.

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Why does binge eating usually happen at night? And what can you do about it? by Gia & Danielle

For people with binge eating disorder (BED), nighttime is an especially high risk period for experiencing a binge episode. New research published in the International Journal of Obesity sheds some light on the role of stress and hunger hormones in driving this nighttime eating. Higher body weight individuals with or without BED were brought into the lab either in the morning or the evening after they had fasted for eight hours. They were put through a stressful experience and then given a large buffet meal. The researchers found that adults were hungrier in the evening than the daytime, even though both groups had fasted for the same length of time, and that stress increased hunger hormones more later in the day than it did earlier in the day. The increases in hunger hormones in evening were particularly pronounced among the group who had BED. The participants with binge BED also reported lower fullness in the evening, even after eating the buffet, and higher feelings that their eating at the buffet was out of control. Basically, biology and the increased risk of experiencing stress as the day goes on interact to place individuals with BED at risk for binge eating episodes at the end of the day.

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Stuck in Eating Disorder Behaviors? Dare Greatly & Reach Out by Gia & Danielle

Most of us love to share fun times, joys and pleasures with the people we hold most dear. Those euphoric moments can bond us together and create happy memories.

"In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed” -Khalil Gibran

But what do you do when life feels burdensome? What heppens when you are stuck in eating disorder behaviors? Do you isolate yourself? Do you enter into a shame spiral? Do you put on a mask and wait until you feel better or stronger to authentically show up with your friends? If so, I hope you’ll try reaching out, without self-judgment instead. Regardless of how open you choose to be, reach out. Allow a friend to be your warm landing. Let her or him be your bridge. Communicate the problem and what you need...

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When exercise crosses the line from healthy to harmful by Gia & Danielle

By Danielle Keenan-Miller, Ph.D.

Exercise is, undoubtedly, a generally healthy enterprise and many people embark on new exercise routines at this time of year. While most people are striving to meet the Department of Health’s guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week, some people go far beyond those recommendations. In a world of “insanity” workouts, encouragement of “double” spin classes, and nonstop news articles on the harmful health effects of being sedentary, it’s easy to assume that more is always better when it comes to exercise. However, in too large of a dose, exercise can have negative effects for both body and mind.

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Eating Disorders and Vaping: What's the Link? by Gia & Danielle

Vaping is very much on the rise in adolescents and adults. (1) While early research shows that e-cigarettes are less dangerous to health than traditional cigarettes, there is no published data yet on cancer risks or the potential long-term impact on our lungs or heart. Here are some of the potential health risks we do know --  insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, increase in heart rate and blood pressure and may impair prefrontal brain development in adolescents.  In addition, there’s an increase in the risk of addiction to other drugs, flavored types may cause permanent damage to bronchioles, and certain vaporizers may generate large amounts of formaldehyde and other toxins. (2) Though better than traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are far from risk-free.Unfortunately, people with eating disorders are particularly vulnerable to the allure of vaping -- now using e-cigarettes to suppress their appetites.

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Meditation: Tune into Your Recovery Thoughts, Quiet the Eating Disorder by Gia & Danielle

“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things - that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It's a discipline; you have to practice it.” (Steve Jobs)

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What NOT to ask around the holiday table.... and what to say instead by Gia & Danielle

By Danielle Keenan-Miller, Ph.D. 

The holidays are often a time for gathering with people we don’t see much during the year-- distant relatives, neighbors, and friends of the family that by chance or by choice are not part of our everyday lives. At its worst, negotiating the several hours of a holiday dinner can feel painstaking or repetitive. But having a handy list of the questions that avoid causing conflict and instead open up the door to engaging and meaningful conversation can turn those long holiday meals into a time for joy and connection.

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Surprising New Findings about Wearable Exercise Trackers & Teens by Gia & Danielle

A new study in the American Journal of Health Education looked at the impact of a popular wearable lifestyle technology on teen exercise habits. At first, the 13 and 14 year olds reported being more motivated -- by guilt and competition to meet the fitness goals. But the positive trend in their desire to improve exercise habits did not last. The study revealed, it’s not that simple.

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Your Brain on Altruism: The science behind holiday do-gooding by Gia & Danielle

By Dr. Danielle Keenan-Miller

The holiday season comes with an onslaught of requests for your time and money: envelopes from non-profits arriving to ask for donations, soup kitchens requesting volunteers, and even the ringing bell of the Salvation Army santa. In the midst of the stress, lack of sleep, and (let’s be honest) grumpy mood that can accompany the holiday season, it’s easy to tell ourselves that we don’t have the time, energy, or resources to give. However, the science of altruism suggests that accepting some of these requests, rather than depleting us, would likely improve our well-being (in addition to contributing to the social good).

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6 Simple Tips for Success on Thanksgiving Day: During Eating Disorder Recovery by Gia & Danielle

By Dr. Gia Marson

A day that seems to be all about food can be very stressful if you are trying to recover from an eating disorder. Here are some tips that can help you manage well on Thanksgiving. Starting by...

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Facing Your Food Fears by Gia & Danielle

Therapists have long known that the key to conquering fears is facing them and learning that you can survive. In fact, the therapy based on that concept, called exposure therapy, is the treatment of choice for a number of psychological problems, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, phobias, anxiety disorders, and PTSD. For example, if you went to therapy because you were afraid of dogs, that therapy should include things like looking at pictures or movies of dogs, going to dog parks, petting dogs, and maybe even engaging with dogs that seem scary. Current theory of how exposure therapy works is that it helps people learn something new about their feared situation-- that the outcome that they fear is unlikely to happen, or that if it does happen, it’s not the end of the world.

 

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How to Tackle Bulimia Nervosa & Depression Together by Gia & Danielle

"Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging" --Joseph Campbell

As if overcoming a serious eating disorder isn't challenging enough, more than half of people with bulimia nervosa also deal with a depressive disorder. New reseach is encouraging for those working to recover from both. 

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“Look at her!”: How social comparisons hurt us all by Gia & Danielle

We’re all aware that “fat talk” -- that is, talking about dissatisfaction with our own bodies or making negative comments about the bodies of others--  are harmful to ourselves and those around us (not to mention foster a negative social environment where women’s bodies are commodified). But far fewer of us are aware of how dangerous it is to even mentally compare our bodies, exercise, and eating habits to those of other women. Our culture’s obsession with social media, reality TV, and celebrity watching have enabled us to make detailed comparisons between our lives and those of people we may have never even met, and there’s reason to suspect that those comparisons are hurting us.

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Find Calm & Improve Your Health: Meditate Daily by Gia & Danielle

by Dr. Gia Marson

"The Intuitive mind is a sacred gift, the rational mind a faithful servant, we have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." - Albert Einstein

We live in a complex world, bombarded by media & technology. It is easy to default to spending our days reacting to external stimuli. This strategy can get you through days, weeks and even years. But it may not get you what you truly want. If you have been busy chasing your life as opposed to living it, I want to encourage you to make change-- to a life of acting rather than reacting. One well researched, simple method to shift away from responding to forces around you and toward being centered and value driven is meditation. Evidence shows it can improve your mental and physical health...and it feels good.

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Photoshopped Images Need Labels by Gia & Danielle

By Dr. Gia Marson

France now requires all retouched, airbrushed or altered photos to come with a warning. The purpose of the new law that went into effect Sunday, is “to avoid promoting inaccessible ideals of beauty and to prevent anorexia among young people...Exposing young people to normative and unrealistic body images leads to a feeling of self-depreciation and poor self-esteem that can have an impact on health-related behaviour” according to their former health minister, Marisol Touraine.¹

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Make 2 Friends and Call Me In The Morning: Building Social Connections to Improve Health by Gia & Danielle

By Danielle Keenan-Miller, Ph.D.

In Western culture, which places a lot of value on the role of the individual, maintaining our physical and mental health is typically seen as a solo venture. It’s presumed that our well-being is largely under our own control, and improving our health is something we should be able to tackle independently. However, a large body of evidence from different fields of psychology and medicine are highlighting the key role that our relationships play in our health.

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Actions Speak Louder than Words, in Eating Disorder Recovery by Gia & Danielle

By Dr. Gia Marson

Does this sound familiar? You want to recover but you also want to keep a few of the familiar eating disorder behaviors. Maybe you want to ignore your body’s hunger or fullness cues or stay at a weight that your treatment team tells you is not healthy. While recovering, you may want to maintain certain parts of the eating disorder that seem comforting and comfortable. You may have even convinced yourself that you can pick and choose which behaviors or beliefs to keep and which to release. There are so many versions of resistance to change, so many symptoms you may be unwilling to give up. If so, you are not alone.

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How a Suicide Prevention Song Inspires Hope & Help-Seeking by Gia & Danielle

By Dr. Gia Marson

We were recently reminded how much of a positive difference one person can make. At the Video Music Awards, singer Logic performed a moving song about suicide prevention and mental health. The song called "1-800-273-8255" is the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The day after the song was released, the hotline had the second-highest call volume in its history.¹ Callers reached out for help. Logic’s honest songwriting and courageous performance revealed his own history of suffering and inspired hope through positive action. He connected through our shared humanity. He generated help-seeking. Now, calls to the hotline are up more than 30% from this time last year.

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