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Amanda began her journey at Shades of Hope as a very hopeless and broken individual. Recovery is possible! We hope that you will read her story and make a change for yourself today. Call (800) 588-4673 to speak to someone.   “My battle with weight and food began when I was 8 years old. I first purged when I was 13, hit my lowest anorexic weight at 16 and had eaten myself into a diagnosis of Type II Diabetes by age 26. There were many pivotal events throughout the years which contributed to and maintained my eating disorders. When I initially gained weight at 8 years old, my mom was starting her own battle with anorexia. At age 11, our family which was the ‘typical’ family, was broken when my parents separated and divorced. Things were very different from that point on. My brother and I moved with my mom and we saw my dad infrequently. He got remarried and it felt like he had a new family. There was less supervision and the skating rink became my weekend babysitter. Between the ages of 12 and 13, I experienced sexual abuse. That event would become the lens through which I would view every aspect of myself for the next twenty-something years – I was worthless, broken, dirty, used, and damaged. The bulimia began shortly after the abuse and would continue off and on throughout the next 24 years. I met my husband in college, and we were married the day I graduated with […]
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Jackie’s daughter suffered from anorexia and bulimia for more than 4 years before her family became involved. Upon identifying her eating disorder with her therapist, the family came to Shades of Hope. Read Jackie’s story and know that there is hope for your own child or family member struggling with eating disorders! Call (800) 588-4673 to speak to someone. “We were not familiar with eating disorders, but we wanted to help our daughter in any way possible. We booked the first flight to Texas because we were located in Louisville, Kentucky. Our daughter was on her way to recovery after being admitted to Shades of Hope. It was not until we attended Family Week, which was five weeks after she arrived, that we got a true understanding of her eating disorder. We also began to realize just how much our family needed the help of Shades of Hope. My husband was able to learn about his sugar addiction, and I addressed my issues with co-dependency. Since being at Shades of Hope’s Family Week, we are now caffeine free, as well as sugar and gluten free. Mike and I are both living healthier lives. We have all successfully stayed on a meal plan, which helps our daughter stay in recovery upon returning home from treatment. My husband and I stayed for an additional 6-Day Intensive after Family Week, and that is where the healing and hope began for true recovery. We didn’t realize just how much we needed help with co-dependency and other issues. […]
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With the accusations that have emerged about Harvey Weinstein, sexual assault and abuse has been front and center in the news cycle lately. While Hollywood stories can be salacious, and the media gets very excited about high-profile celebrities and scandal, our position at Shades of Hope is that the focus should be on survivors. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted or abused, there are resources available to you. Tell someone you love and trust about your experience, and report it to a medical professional and police. My name is Tennie McCarty, and I am the founder of Shades of Hope. I am also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and I have no shame. I haven’t always been able to say these words out loud. For many years, I held the secret deep inside me under layers and layers of excess weight and shame, shame so dark and heavy, I could hardly breathe or say my name. I was shut down completely for fear that if I told the truth, no one would believe me. The pain of living got so hard I had to find help, and I did. By the grace of God, and help from caring, loving therapists, I began to find my voice and to speak my truth. I didn’t get sick overnight and I didn’t get well overnight, but little by little, the layers of shame came off my body, as did the pounds. Today, I am free and I have been for […]
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Where do I start? There is one thing we see here at Shades of Hope that seems to be a common theme: helplessness. Sometimes people realize they have an eating addiction, and other times they haven’t even gotten that far. Even receiving that diagnosis can leave even the strongest of people feeling deflated and powerless. The first question inevitably is “Where do I start?” Whether we’re talking about binging, purging or any other type of addiction, the first step is to come to terms with is the fact that you do have a problem. Until that time, the source of your unease will evade you, hide in the darkest corners while still retaining control of your life. Once you shine a light on this, the next step, and this is a doozy, is to ask for help. There are a number of things you can do for yourself that will help prepare you for the journey back to recovery. Take an inventory of your life, what are the triggers of your addiction? Are there people in your orbit that encourage, even empower, your negative routines? Take some time to isolate these triggers, because with them still active in your life, a full recovery will be next to impossible. According to foodaddiction.com, there are eight basic questions that you can ask yourself that will help you to start understanding your food addiction and get a better understanding of it: What are your secrets about food? Be as specific as possible. What […]
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Gratitude Oh, the power of gratitude. It is truly a wonderful thing. Who would have thought such powerful changes could be brought about by taking a moment to focus on the positive things in our lives? Even those of us suffering from an addiction can benefit from this seemingly simple exercise. For some reason, we human beings seem to be programmed to fixate on the negative aspects of our lives. It’s our default mode as we get older. Negativity carries with it such a debilitating power, and with this power comes a destructive force. Everywhere we look, there are images that are designed to make us feel incomplete, inferior. “Beauty secrets you never knew”, “Miracle diets because you need them!”, “Look younger today!”… Read any selection of magazine covers or turn on the TV and there it is, a relentless barrage of programming that was meticulously produced to create this sense of dissatisfaction in your life. What these commercials and magazine covers never encourage you to do is to take stock of the positive things in your life, or to take a moment to focus on the things that you are thankful for. Ah, yes… thankfulness. What a beautiful word. To feel thankful for the aspects of our health that are good, to feel gratitude for family, friends, a roof over our heads, our beloved pets… Oftentimes we can get so wrapped up in our heads, so fixated on those niggling things that aren’t right in our world, that these […]
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It’s not hard to see why someone might feel some sense of trepidation when committing to a food addiction treatment program. Any time we face the unknown or throw ourselves in to the deep end, it can seem very frightening, especially if we know that we will not come out of it the same. With this in mind, we want to shed a little light on the “mysteries” of a typical food addiction program in hopes to demystify the process just a little bit.   We should establish upfront that food addiction programs follow a similar trajectory to most other addiction treatments. The idea is to help addicts get to the root cause of their disease. Through food addiction treatment help, a person comes to understand the role food has played in his or her life. With continued work, sufferers can cultivate the necessary coping skills to create a lasting, healthy relationship with food.   The Nature of Food Addiction According to Harvard Medical School, the basis for food addiction lies in how certain types of foods stimulate the brain, similar to how alcohol and drugs do. For some people, foods with high sugar, salt and fat content can become addictive, as certain brain chemical processes grow dependent on food’s effects.   More specifically, these types of foods interact with the brain’s pleasure centers in such a way as to create a self-reinforcing mechanism that drives a person to crave foods with high sugar, salt and/or fat content. Food addiction treatment […]
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The harmful effects of bullying are widely recognized. The victim often feels powerless, fearful, and can be led to believe something is wrong with them, even long after the harassment occurs. Another type of damage that is only just now coming to light is the potential for bullying to lead to eating disorders. According to UK charity, Beat, a recent study of 600 people in the UK showed that a staggering 90 percent of respondents were all bullied at some point in their lives. Further, more than 75 percent of individuals suffering from an eating disorder name bullying as one of the major causes. Susan Ringwood, chief executive for Beat, had this to say about the study: “Bullying undermines young peoples’ self-confidence and lowers their self-esteem, raising the risk of eating disorders. Eating disorders are complex with no single cause but bullying is a significant factor for too many people.” One of those who responded to the survey, a 23-year-old-man, recalled his experiences as a victim of bullying and, eventually, an eating disorder sufferer: “I only had one friend in high school, but even he bullied me when the others were around. A lot of my classmates didn’t want to associate with me in case they got picked on too. As the bullying grew worse and more kids joined in, I would run out of lessons to escape the abuse. I hid in the boy’s toilets where I knew I wouldn’t be found. There I would comfort eat to ease […]
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  What exactly is an eating disorder? Simply put, these are very serious conditions where the sufferer is so preoccupied with food and weight that it takes over their lives. Someone with such a disorder is usually aware of what they are doing but feels powerless to stop themselves. The 3 most common types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. Eating disorders can have serious ramifications both physically and emotionally and for many, can potentially be deadly. Women tend to be at the highest risk but anyone can potentially develop these disorders. Statistics show that binge-eating seems to affect both men and women equally. There are many approaches to treating eating disorders, including therapy, nutritional education, psychotherapy, family counseling, medications and sometimes, hospitalization. Symptoms Eating disorders symptoms vary with the particular type of eating disorder. Anorexia Nervosa When you have anorexia nervosa, you’re obsessed with food and being thin, sometimes to the point of deadly self-starvation. Anorexia signs and symptoms may include: Refusal to eat and denial of hunger An intense fear of gaining weight A negative or distorted self-image Excessive exercise Irritability Fear of eating in public Preoccupation with food Social withdrawal Thin appearance Trouble sleeping Menstrual irregularities or loss of menstruation (amenorrhea) Constipation Abdominal pain Irregular heart rhythms Dehydration Bulimia Nervosa Those who suffer with bulimia feel trapped by the cycle of binging and purging. This is characterized typically by eating an excessive amount of food in a short time and then ridding […]
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It’s a universal experience: we eat when we’re bored, or lonely, or excited… for a multitude of different reasons that sometimes do not include hunger. But our psychological reactions to this experience can vary greatly. For some, it becomes a cycle, a burden. Some will binge eat then panic when the sick feeling sets in, taking drastic measures to reverse the damage they have just inflicted on themselves. Bulimia is a very real and common problem, affecting (millions) of men, women and children of all ages. What Is Bulimia? Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by regular episodes of binge eating, followed by frantic efforts to avoid gaining weight. Bulimia is a significant public-health problem, both because of the physical and mental health effects it can have. This illness often co-occurs with body dysmorphic disorder, depression, anxiety, and substance-abuse disorders. To be bulimic means you are locked in to a constant struggle between binge eating and an intense desire to try and avoid gaining weight. Those who suffer from it are aware of what they are doing and know the consequences, feeling sick, guilty and ashamed-but feel powerless to stop themselves, as if it is beyond their control. Typically, a binge tends to mean you will consume between 3,000 to 5,000 calories within an hour. Upon the completion of the binge, the inevitable panic will set it and sufferers will take drastic measures in an attempt to “undo” the binge. Methods may include self-induced vomiting, taking laxatives or extreme […]
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We all at one point or another look in the mirror and fixate on something we’d like to change. If only we were taller, more attractive, or thinner… When these thoughts become obsessive and start taking over our lives, they can mutate in to a multitude of unhealthy patterns. For many, the thought of gaining weight is such a devastating prospect that they will literally do anything to keep it off, including making themselves sick. This is fertile grounds for eating disorders to develop, including anorexia. What Is Anorexia? Anorexia Nervosa is a complex eating disorder that has three signifying features: 1. An unwillingness to maintain a healthy body weight 2. A distorted body image 3. A heightened, intense fear of putting on weight Though it is more common in young women, anorexia can potentially affect anyone, even those who are underweight. It often begins in the pre-teen years or young adulthood. The disorder seems to be most common in caucasian women who are high achievers in school and who have a goal-oriented family or personality. The exact causes of anorexia nervosa are not known. Many factors may be involved. Genes and hormones may play a role. Social attitudes that promote very thin body types may also be key factors. Risk Factors and Behaviors There are many potential risk factors that could be involved with someone becoming anorexic. These may include: Being fixated on weight and shape Having an anxiety disorder as a child Having a negative self-image Having eating […]
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