BALANCE eating disorder treatment center is the premium eating disorder treatment center specializing in the treatment of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, compulsive eating and disordered eating.
This week, we are pleased to be featuring Norman Kim, PhD on the BALANCE blog! Continuing with the theme of our previous Feature Fridays this month for Men’s Health Month and Pride Month, we are celebrating Norman’s great contributions to the eating disorder community. Through his work, Norman has been continuously dedicated to help those that struggle with eating disorders, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized communities.
Norman completed his B.A. at Yale University where he studied music and psychology, and was the recipient of a Mellon Fellowship for Research in Psychiatry. He completed his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at UCLA, where he was the recipient of an individual National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health to study the neurobiologic underpinnings of emotion recognition and understanding in Autism. Most recently he has been involved in a multi-site, longitudinal study of children and adolescents at risk for developing bipolar disorder.
In conjunction with his research, Norman has developed an expertise in treating and teaching about psychiatrically complex populations, multi-modal treatment, and diagnostic assessment. While rooted firmly in empirically supported approaches, he has incorporated practices emphasizing somatosensory integration and that draw from eastern and traditional medicine with our current knowledge of the neurobiologic and cognitive processes underlying anxiety, mood, trauma and eating disorders. He has endeavored to develop a clinical approach that focuses on the exploration of meaning as a path to healing and that honors an individual's’ own narrative and journey.
Norman is a frequent, national speaker and educator, and is a passionate advocate for eating disorder awareness and translating research into clinical practice. He was the co-founder of the Reasons Eating Disorder Center and is a regular national speaker, educator, and advocate for eating disorder awareness. He is on the Board of Directors of the Eating Disorders Coalition, the Eating Disorder Advisory Council for the Joint Commission, and the Clinical Advisory Boards for Recovery Warriors, Spectrum CBT, and Tikvah V’Chizuk. He is the National Director for Program Development for Reasons Eating Disorder and Center for Change.
Earlier this year, Reasons joined the National Eating Disorder Association and The Trevor Project to do a national assessment on eating disorders amongst LGBTQ youth. The survey found a high prevalence of eating disorders and disordered eating among LGBTQ youth. Over half of the LGBTQ youth had been diagnosed with an eating disorder. You can learn more about the findings here.
Last year, Norman shared on NEDA’s blog in a post about how to address the lack of diversity in eating disorder professionals sharing, “It has been well established that eating disorders do not discriminate. Women and men from ethnic minority groups and those in LGBTQ communities suffer from eating disorders at similar or higher rates than in the general population. On top of the serious impact that eating disorders have on all those affected, people from ethnic minority groups and from the LGBTQ community must often grapple with long histories of additional stigma and marginalization, resulting in multiple doses of shame and understandable reasons for experiencing self-hatred....People from these groups are under-identified by professionals and tend to receive treatment for eating disorders at significantly lower rates”
He also shared these words of wisdom with Eating Disorders Resource Catalogue: "I have great hope that with proper education and advocacy, we can do better about recognizing these struggles earlier in all people who are suffering.”
We at BALANCE appreciate Norman’s fierce advocacy work to build awareness around marginalized communities that are risk to struggle in silence.
Learn more about Reasons Eating Disorder Treatment Center here.
When I began my yoga teacher training in 2014, I read an incredible book by a renowned yoga teacher, Erich Schiffmann. In his book, “The Spirit and Practice of Moving in Stillness” (1996), he states, “The purpose of yoga is to facilitate the profound inner relaxation that accompanies fearlessness.”
I recognize fearlessness as doing something so great as recovering from an eating disorder. As the yoga teacher at BALANCE, I always aim to promote fearlessness in our weekly yoga classes.
Studies on yoga as a complementary therapy to eating disorder treatment have been conducted, although findings appear to be inconclusive at this time (Balasubramaniam,Telles, & Doraiswamy, 2012). Despite this, it has been found that two-thirds of residential treatment programs have implemented yoga therapy into their treatment programs (Frisch,Herzog, & Franko, 2006). Yoga is clearly doing something right on the ground.
Physically, yoga is known to modulate the stress response, calm the nervous system, reduce the heart rate, lower blood pressure, and ease rapid breathing (Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2009). In my experience, yoga therapy brings the focus back to the function, not the form, of the body. This can be incredibly rewarding for someone suffering from an eating disorder. Yoga demonstrates to the patient that physical strength, mental clarity, and inner relaxation can be more positive attributes than thinness, yearn for control, or perfectionism. Yoga can even help cure the cognitive distortions an eating disorder creates.Through the three pillars of yoga- physical practice, breathing techniques, and meditation- clients can work to separate their fears from reality, to reduce anxious thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and to find inner relaxation.
I welcome all of us to welcome more yoga into our lives, to welcome the fearlessness that comes with inner peace and internal fierceness. And to those struggling with eating disorders, perhaps you will consider adding yoga, even something as simple as belly breathing, into your recovery. It may even ignite your fearlessness deep inside.
This post was written by Cassandra Lenza, MS, LCSW, RYT. Cassandra is the Clinical Director here at BALANCE. She is an experienced individual, group, and family therapist specializing in the treatment of eating disorders through the Center for the Study of Anorexia and Bulimia (CSAB), where she was extensively trained. Cassandra has conducted psychotherapy and evidence-based interventions in numerous eating disorder outpatient treatment programs throughout New York City. She is a member of the National Association of Social Work (NASW) and Yoga Alliance, weaving yoga and mindfulness into the therapeutic process as BALANCE’s resident yoga teacher.
We are excited to share our second Weekly Roundup on the BALANCE blog!
Here, we will be sharing some of our favorite articles, blog posts and news stories on topics including eating disorders, mental health and body positivity from the past week. Did you check out our first recap last week? See it here.
Have something you loved reading this week? Make sure to send us a link.
We hope you enjoy these great articles as much as we did!
June is Men’s Health Month, and this week beginning on Monday June 11th through the 17th is recognized as National Men’s Health Week. This week encourages men, boys, and their families to be aware of health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease. Although mental health is often quickly left out of these conversations, we know how important it is to raise awareness about mental illness in men, especially when it comes to eating disorders.
Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma around men and eating disorders despite an estimated 25-40% of those struggling with eating disorder being male. This is why we are pleased to feature Ryan Sheldon this week! Ryan is the blogger behind the blog Mr. Confessions, previously named Confessions of a Binge Eater. On his blog, he openly shares his experience as a man in recovery from binge eating disorder.
Today, Ryan is a speaker and advocate for all struggling with eating disorders and body image issues. After being diagnosed with binge eating disorder in 2015, he founded his popular blog to share his story. He was inspired to begin this work in the hopes of helping others that feel alone in their eating disorder just as he once did. Today, he inspires his followers and supporters to not be ashamed if they struggle.
He has shared his story at dozens of eating disorders conferences, corporate events, and schools. As a body-positive social-media influencer, Ryan was publicly recognized by Instagram in 2018 as a leader in building safe and kind online spaces. In addition to his advocacy career, Ryan works as an adtech professional for a large technology firm in Los Angeles.
We at BALANCE are thankful for Ryan’s outspokenness and great advocacy work. Spreading awareness on eating disorders and how they affect men is crucial and we look forward to seeing how Ryan continues to inspire others in the future!
“I confess it’s tough being a man with an eating disorder. I wish I could be a guy who doesn’t care what size his jeans are. A guy who can go out for a burger with friends without worrying that he’ll want three more. A guy who’s just normal about food — whatever that means. But I am committed to continue working on myself and this disorder, and I’m proud to be a voice that can hopefully inspire other men who are hiding in the shadows to come out and face their eating issues too.”
With 95% of those with eating disorders being between the ages of 12 and 25 (SAMHSA), it is important to have knowledge on how to detect and best support a teen or young adult that may be engaging in disordered behaviors or has developed an eating disorder. If you are a parent or a caretaker of someone who you believe is struggling, you may be wondering what are some signs and symptoms that there is an issue that needs to be intervened on.
First things first, eating disorders are complex illnesses and have many contributing factors including psychological, biological and social factors. So whether or not your loved one has struggled with food or body image in the past, adolescence can be a time where they become vulnerable to developing an disordered eating patterns.
why TEENS are susceptible to developing eating disorders
Although an eating disorder can develop at any point in ones life, teens can be extremely susceptible to engaging in disordered eating behaviors. According to one study, over one half of teenage girls and nearly one third of teenage boys reported engaging in unhealthy weight control behaviors. The pressure to control or lose weight or becoming preoccupied with body size or appearance can be a result of many things. Some potential triggers could include messages from the media, certain activities they are involved in that have a focus on appearance or weight, or being exposed to dieting at a young age. Disordered behaviors that they are engaging in may be their way to cope with family stress, academic stress, bullying, peer pressure and other distressing circumstances they are feeling overwhelmed by.
why college students are susceptible to developing eating disorders
Often times college students may return home exhibiting behaviors that may indicate a struggle around food, weight and body. This does not come as a surprise with full blown eating disorders typically begin between 18 and 21 years of age (Hudson, 2007).
Starting college comes with many changes as it is a time where students are exposed to freedom and independence for the first time, especially around food choices if they are no longer living at home. This can be a difficult challenge if there are weight and body image concerns affecting their relationship with food. Along with that, college can be a big transition and potentially stressful between balancing academic, social and/or athletic demands. These stressors and responsibilities can become a major trigger to begin using eating disordered behaviors or if the student is predisposed to developing anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder.
how to know if its a problem
In our society there is often a normalized focus on food and weight so it can be hard to tell when these seemingly ’normal’ behaviors have become something more. There are a number of signs indicating that dieting and weight concerns have taken a more serious turn, and may have manifested into an eating disorder. For a child who has been reducing calories, skipping meals, avoiding certain foods or going long periods of time without food, there may be an evident weight decrease - but this is not always the case.
We suggest looking for signs and behaviors outside of changes in weight or physical appearance. Things such as as avoiding social situations surrounding food, being rigid around eating, exercising excessively, often disappearing after meals, which may indicate potential purging, or being preoccupied with food can all serve as tell tale signs that their actions may be more than just being “healthy." These behaviors can all provide red flags that their relationship to food, weight and their body is now at a level of high distress and needs some attention.
How To Help
There are several things a parent or caretaker can do to help their child toward recovery. First, gently and with great empathy and concern, you can try to express your concern to your child and see if they are willing to talk about what might be going on. Note – most people have shame around their disordered eating or eating disorder and they may deny that there is a problem.
Be prepared that your child may become angry upon brining the topic up. But in the long run, if they are able to get help, they will be forever grateful to you that you saw the signs and did something to help them when perhaps they couldn’t do that for themselves.
Lastly, aiding in getting your child professional help is absolutely crucial. Those struggling with eating disorders can greatly benefit from seeking professional help along with the support of family and loved ones. With the right support and treatment, your child find health and long-lasting recovery.
Balance Summer Programs for Teens & College Students
As Summer approaches, BALANCE is pleased to offer Summer programs for teens and college students off from school. The Summer allows those struggling to focus on recovery and build coping skills to bring with them into the new school year. Our Summer programs for Teens & College Students are designed to meet the developmental needs of adolescents and young adults struggling with eating disorders. By offering summer-specific programming, we provide adolescents and college students extra support while keeping them close to home.
Our programs are ideal for teens in need of intensive eating disorder support during their school summer break or before heading off to college. These programs are also tailored to accommodate the needs of college students at home from school during the summer.
Offers individualized care in a small, intimate group setting
Integrative approach including DBT skills, art & drama therapy, yoga, nutrition education, group therapy, and family support including multi-family groups
Meal support and exposure therapy including restaurant excursions
Weekly nutrition and case management sessions
Customized treatment plan with a combination of individual, group & family services
Ongoing collaboration and referral back to primary treatment team members
Flexible schedule options:family therapy or additional individual nutrition may be added to boost level of care
Seasonal experiential activities include outdoor yoga, art in the park, picnics, and other outings
If you would like to learn more about our Summer programs, please fill out the form below.
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BALANCE is launching a new blog series! Welcome to our Weekly Roundup where we will share some of our favorite articles, blog posts and news stories on topics including eating disorders, mental health and body positivity from the past week.
We hope you enjoy the information, resources and inspiration from the links below! Have something you loved reading this week? Send us a link!
In honor of June being Men’s Health Month, we wanted to shine a light on the work of someone in our community who is breaking the stigma around males with eating disorders. That is why we are excited to feature Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS on our blog this week!
Mr. Walen currently serves as President of the board of directors for the National Association for Males with Eating Disorders (NAMED), and is a past founding board member of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA). He has appeared on The Today Show, was featured in The New York Times, USA Today, Men’s Health, and many other national and local media outlets as an expert in the field of eating disorders and body image. In addition, he has authored numerous articles and presented workshops at national and international eating disorder conferences. His book Man Up to Eating Disorders, which is a memoir and self-help book directed at males with eating disorders, was published May 2014, and was featured in the Gurze Catalog. Mr. Walen is also a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Social Work in Nashville. He also is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, and is a published singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who continues to write and perform in the metro Baltimore area.
N.A.M.E.D. is the only organization in the United States exclusively dedicated to representing and providing support to males with eating disorders. Historically, boys and men with eating disorders have received inadequate attention, research, support, and intervention. N.A.M.E.D. plays a vital role in filling this gap by offering information and resources about and support to this underrepresented population and their families and by serving as a clearinghouse for treatment providers and researchers.
Andrew was inspired to do the great work he does after his own experience with an eating disorder and feeling misunderstood. He shared in a statement about his center that he “suffered for 20 years with an eating disorder because nobody thought to ask me the right questions simply because I was a male.” At The Body Image Therapy Center, Andrew is able to help those struggling and is actively working to reach more people by expanding his center. The Body Image Therapy Center recently announced that it will be opening an eating disorder treatment program in the Station North Arts District in Baltimore City this coming July, its fourth program.
As for some words of wisdom from Andrew? We love this quote featured by Men’s Health on what he believes is important to tell kids: "It's not about beauty. It's about what makes you special — your humanity, your empathy, your kindness. These are the messages we need to give our young men, rather than 'Are you the best? Are you the strongest? Are you the fittest?' We've got to tell them that their body is their home. It's not their billboard." We couldn't agree more!
You can learn more about The Body Image Therapy Center’s services here & learn more about N.A.M.E.D. here.
As we are in Spring, there are messages everywhere reminding us that it’s time to “get in shape for Summer,” “start working on our beach bodies,” and “lose all of that winter padding.” Our society has such an obsession with dieting that January is known as “National Dieting Month.” The constant push to have our bodies fit in with the societal ideal becomes even stronger as the weather warms, adding pressure to the thoughts that we need to change or “fix” our body. This “diet mentality” can be very persuasive and tempting, as everyone exclaims that it “really works” and “changed their life” without touching on the reality of diet behaviors and the negative impacts they can have on your mental, emotional, and physical health.
Those that have hit “rock bottom” in the trenches of the diet world often realize, after gaining the weight back, that diets do not work. In fact, they may actually cause you to gain weight and, while they may improve our health short-term, and can do more damage to your health each time you engage in the dieting rollercoaster.
Has anyone ever noticed that, when we deprive ourselves of different foods and food groups, your caffeine consumption increases? Perhaps you are irritable, short-tempered, less likely to socialize and more tired than usual? This is because diets starve our brain of the various micro and macronutrients that we need, such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Similarly, supplements do not provide the energy we need either! Dieting causes us to deprive ourselves of the nutrients we need most, all of which come from, you guessed it, “Vitamin F:” FOOD!
Diets also create disordered thinking, disordered eating, food rules and the fear of various foods and/or food groups. In this vain, they do more harm than good and these harmful behaviors can result in hair loss, nails breaking, excessively dry skin, and lack of menstruation, just to name a few. The diet industry, of course, does not mention these fun and seductive potential side-effects. With all of the negative impacts dieting can have, I think it’s important to offer some tips on how to avoid the diet culture and life a happier and healthier life.
To begin, stop reading any book or magazine that discusses how to change your body. Whether the article or book is focused on long or short-term change doesn’t matter, do not allow any space in your mind or life for publications that make you feel as if you need to change yourself. Instead, immerse yourself in reading about travel, decorating, psychology, or cars, anything that you find interesting and inspiring. Don’t spend time reading things that involve changing your physique or provide food ideas that suggest making meals or snacks in a low-calorie manner. I am suggesting reading material that isn’t for a quick fix and, instead, feeding your mind with information about things that motivate and entertain you.
Next, learn to discuss topics with friends and co-workers that do not involve food or weight. People seem to make casual comments, either positive or negative, about other people’s bodies and what they do, or should, look like. Even when people are well-intentioned and believe they are referring to weight in a scientific manner, they can be misguided. For example, when people refer to other’s Body Mass Index (BMI). This is calculated by dividing one’s weight in kilograms by the square of one’s height in meters and is used as the standard determination of “fatness” for many doctors. However, BMI is an inaccurate measurement, as it doesn’t include various factors that contribute to weight and health including age, ethnicity, family genetics and years of dieting. BMI is not an indicator of health. BMI is a comparison of height and weight tables.
Learn how to develop hobbies and interests that are intellectually stimulating. Perhaps you have always been interested in studying a foreign language or learning how to play a musical instrument. These are a couple of ideas that can allow us to feed our minds and strengthen our knowledge and understanding of the world around us, not be sucked into the idea of being on a new diet. Diets are expensive, short lived, a waste of money and are not a fun or worthwhile conversation to have.
It is also important to change our focus, putting energy toward taking care of ourselves and our bodies instead of berating ourselves and restricting our diet. When we take care of ourselves, inside and out, this can allow us to feel better about ourselves. Important aspects of self-care can include: getting enough sleep, focusing on our mental well-being, creating boundaries with people that deplete our energy, consciously choosing what fuel we want to eat that will provide sufficient energy, and learning how to be in touch with ourselves to see what type of intuitive movement, if any, we like. These can all go a long way in helping us to lead happier, healthier lives that revolve around consistent and true wellness instead of temporary, perceived, wellness
Focusing on the above areas can allow us to feel more confident about ourselves as people and forget about ever wanting to go on a diet. Learning to accept ourselves and not compare ourselves to anyone else is important, as well. When we begin to know, and like ourselves, we move closer to being able to accept ourselves. I want to emphasize that no one is perfect, attempting to achieve perfection through diet and exercise fads is a fool’s errand. The fad, and its results, are temporary but the harm it can cause to your mind and body can last much longer. It is important to invest in who we are as people, not what we look like. Our personality will continue to shine and glow as we know and love ourselves. It’s important to remember that people don’t see the flaws we obsess over that make us so hard on ourselves. The next time you ask people what they like about you, I can assure you, it will be all character-related compliment , not your hair extensions, make up, or how many bicep curls you can do. Try to see yourself as your loved ones do, treat yourself as compassionately as you would treat your close friends, and love yourself unconditionally.
I hope this has given you some perspective on the many reasons to give up dieting. Forget the restrictions and the societal pressure to form yourself to an impossible ideal. Instead, use these tips to work on being kinder to yourself on this journey to being “freed” from the difficult and confusing messages that we hear in today’s society about food and body.
Robyn Goldberg is a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified eating disorder specialist, certified intuitive eating expert and a Health at Every Size® (HAES) clinician. Robyn has spent years learning from some of the best in the industry and continues to seek professional mentoring, attends innovative conferences and stays abreast with the most current literature. Her private practice is located in Beverly Hills. You can learn more here. Make sure to follow Robyn on Twitter,Facebook & Instagram.
Today, June 2nd, is World Eating Disorders Action Day! This day is a grassroots movement designed for and by people affected by an eating disorder, their families, and the medical and health professionals who support them. By uniting activists across the globe, the aim is to expand global awareness of eating disorders as genetically linked, treatable illnesses that can affect anyone.
To join the fight in breaking the stigma, here are 5 ways that YOU can take action today!
1. Take the Pledge from World Eating Disorders Action Day
Often times, medical professionals are misinformed on the symptoms and proper care of eating disorders. This action can inform medical professionals on how to recognize, intervene and support someone who may be struggling with an eating disorder.
3. Share the National Eating Disorder Association Screening Tool on Social Media
NEDA has a short and simple screening tool on their website that can help determine if someone is struggling and should seek professional help. You can find the screening tool here.
4. Share info or make a donation to a non-profit providing life-saving resources to those struggling with eating disorders
Supporting a non-profit dedicated to helping those with eating disorders is a great way to take action! There are many wonderful oraginziations such as:
If you are in recovery from an eating disorder, have recovered or support someone with an eating disorder, sharing your story is a powerful way to break the stigma. If you feel comfortable and safe sharing your story, it may spark meaningful conversations amongst your friends, family and network!
Learn more about World Eating Disorders Action Day here.
It’s Feature Friday at BALANCE which means celebrating another person in our community making a big difference! With today being June 1st and the beginning of Pride Month, we are thrilled to feature Dagan VanDemark, the Director & Founder of T-FFED: Trans Folx Fighting Eating Disorders!
T-FFED was founded in April of 2014 and is the first grassroots recovery initiative for trans and gender-diverse communities affected by eating disorders. T-FFED is based out of Los Angeles and is a collective of trans/gender diverse folx and allies who believe eating disorders in marginalized communities are social justice issues. Today, their work has reached and changed lives by providing trainings, support and creating awareness on both the prevalence of eating disorders in trans folx and how to best support this community.
Dagan, a genderqueer trans boi, battled bulimia/EDNOS for fifteen years. T-FFED arose after doing their senior thesis research. As a trans/genderqueer person, they had long suspected that their experience struggling with both gender identity and an eating disorder was far from rare. After looking for data and resources on the interplay of body dysphoria and dysmorphia, they were confronted with a lack of information. To assess the gender literacy/trans cultural competency levels of eating disorder providers, VanDemark called different therapists and facilities on behalf of a hypothetical trans woman friend. After being unable to find even one intake professional equipped to handle this information in an appropriate manner, they were inspired to take action.
By finding T-FFED, VanDemark was on a mission to provide accessible, gender-literate community-led healing spaces for trans and gender non-conforming folx, to amplify marginalized voices and experiences, and to develop a standard for trans cultural competency in the ED recovery field. Today, T-FFED works to make visible, interrupt and undermine the disproportionately high incidence of eating disorders in trans and gender-diverse communities through radical community healing and recovery institution reform.
T-FFED works with local trans communities in LA by holding recovery spaces for trans youth like support groups and Healing Intensives; day-long hybrid conference retreats featuring workbooks, toolkit building, support groups, a community meal, and facilitated discussions. To initiate real change in the eating disorder field, T-FFED also offers eating disorder healthcare professionals resources and trainings on the specific needs and obstacles of the community. You can learn more about their professional training options here.
Although the organization is currently on hiatus, we want to applaud Dagan and T-FFED today for their important work and look forward to seeing them back in action soon!
You can learn more or support T-FFED: Trans Folx Fighting Eating Disorders by visiting their website here.