Jennifer Crute Steiner, CEO of Castlewood Treatment Centers, is pleased to announce the newest addition to the leadership team.
Joining Castlewood is Jeannette Rojas Rivero, LASAC, CEDS, CADC II. In her new role as Regional Executive Director of California, Jeannette will be leading operations, expansion and new sites in California and surrounding areas. She joins Annalee Plumb, Regional Executive Director of Missouri and Ronda Cannon, Regional Executive Director of Alabama, in ensuring that all programs are operating at the highest levels.
As a leader in Eating Disorder treatment, Jeannette brings over 20 years of experience to Castlewood. Prior to joining the Castlewood team, Jeannette was Executive Program Director of Rebecca’s House. Jeannette also worked ten years at Sierra Tucson as a Primary Therapist and Eating Disorder Coordinator. In addition to oversight of the treatment teams, she also spoke at national conferences and built relationships within the industry. Jeanette is a Licensed Associate Substance Abuse Counselor (LASAC) in the State of Arizona, a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS) and Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor II (CADAC II).
Ms. Crute Steiner shared, “This team addition shows our commitment to thoughtful growth and expansion on the West Coast and further improving how Castlewood serves clients and supports one another. We are building a culture of accountability and encouraging innovation, which in turn is making us a better company.”
Chef Mary Russo at Castlewood’s Monarch Cove location was recently promoted to National Director, Culinary Services. She uses her expertise in crafting delicious and nutritionally balanced meals to help our clients restore healthy relationships with food.
The holidays are finally here! For me, as for many people, holiday traditions and memories are tightly intertwined with special meals and exceptional foods. In fact, my love for cooking developed over years of preparing meals for holidays, parties and other family gatherings.
It’s not only the food, but also the movement of hearts and minds at dinner tables that makes cooking such a joy. The laughter and rich conversation frequently shared over meals is the stuff of strong, genuine relationships. Those opportunities of togetherness fostered by finger foods can produce cherished memories and feelings of warmth that last for years to come. My role at Castlewood means that I can play a part in teaching clients to enjoy food again, both preparing and eating it. In turn, I hope that their family gatherings are unhindered by the angst that eating disorders can carry and that instead each of them is assured by love and belonging.
In light of the holiday season, I want to share a recipe with you that is one of my all-time favorites. When I was little we used to wait impatiently for my oldest brother and his wife to arrive on Christmas morning so we could open presents. She always brought this delicious egg and sausage casserole that I loved. I tried to replicate it for years, and finally arrived at this recipe. It’s perfect for Christmas morning, and makes the house smell delicious. My family and I sit around on couches and eat it while we open presents.
Scrambled Eggs with Mushrooms, Cheddar and Pancetta
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ lb assorted wild mushrooms (or a variety of any type of mushrooms that you can find), such as chanterelle, porcini, brushed clean and coarsely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
10 large eggs
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 oz. pancetta, chopped
¼ lb cheddar cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 Tbsp minced, fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley
In a frying pan over medium-high heat, melt 1 ½ Tbsp of the butter. When it foams, add the mushrooms and sauté until they release their juices, 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle with ¼ tsp of the salt. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Break the eggs into a separate bowl, add the pepper and the remaining ¼ tsp salt, and whisk until well blended.
In a clean frying pan over medium heat, melt the remaining 2 ½ Tbsp butter. When it foams, add the garlic and pancetta and sauté until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Pour in the eggs and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring often, until the eggs are nearly cooked to the desired consistency, about 5 minutes for a soft curd, and 7-8 minutes for a firmer one. Add the mushrooms, cheese and parsley during the last 2 minutes of cooking.
Spoon the eggs into a platter or individual plates and serve at once.
Tip: Fresh herbs, such as thyme or basil, can be used in place of the parsley, while Gruyere or mozzarella cheese can be substituted for the Cheddar.
I’ve got breakfast covered; what about snacks and dinner? Share your favorite holiday meal in the comments sections below.
Jennifer Crute Steiner, CEO of Castlewood Treatment Centers, is excited to announce additions and promotions to her executive leadership team. In making this announcement, Ms. Crute Steiner highlighted the company’s focus on building an industry-leading and innovative clinical model that provides the highest quality care across all program locations.
“It is an exciting and transformative time to be a part of Castlewood Treatment Centers. We are putting tremendous care and thought into how we grow as an organization”, said Steiner. “These leadership changes signify our commitment to excellence in clinical and medical care serving eating disorder clients.”
Joining the Castlewood team are three industry-leading professionals with 50+ years of combined experience in the successful treatment of eating disorders.
Leading the medical team is Terry V. Eagan, M.D. who is joining Castlewood as Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Eagan is a renowned psychiatrist, Senior Fellow of The Meadows, and founder and CEO of Eagan Medical Group, LLC. He will lead Castlewood’s medical and nursing organizations, as well as partner with Dr. Nicole Siegfried on further developing Castlewood’s industry-leading care model. Dr. Eagan’s range of specialties includes primary psychiatric conditions, eating disorders, substance-abuse disorders, impulse control disorders, trauma & abuse, human sexuality and spiritual therapy. Dr. Eagan's treatment approach incorporates pharmacologic interventions with evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapies, adjunctive modalities, and traditional spiritual practices. He is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology and Medical Board of California as a physician and surgeon, and is a Diplomat of the National Board of Medical Examiners.
Joining and leading the Castlewood growth team is Beata Lundeen, Chief Growth Officer. As a senior level management strategist, Ms. Lundeen brings years of experience working in psychiatric hospitals, chemical dependency residential treatment centers, outpatient, partial hospitalization programs, and eating disorder programs, helping them to create more effective systems and efficient processes to increase referrals. Ms. Lundeen will strategically lead Castlewood’s growth opportunities including programmatic development, product line expansion, client experience and the connectivity of the system, while also shepherding admissions and market expansion.
Jordan Watson, Vice President of Growth and Development will join Ms. Lundeen as an integral part of the growth team. In this new role, Mr. Watson will lead the outreach team, focusing on strategic planning for outreach, while also ensuring that the processes and tools are in place to aid in Castlewood’s growth. Mr. Watson will also develop and implement thoughtful expansion strategies for new sites, with focus on the West Coast. Having most recently been associated with Monte Nido and Affiliates, Mr. Watson has experience with the effectiveness and outcomes of eating disorder treatment across the U.S. This insight will be invaluable as Castlewood evolves and grows.
The strength of Castlewood’s clinical resources has long been recognized in the industry. As the organization puts renewed focus on an innovative clinical model of care consistent across all programs, we’re excited to promote Castlewood leaders who are well respected in the field of eating disorders.
The clinical team will be led by Nicole Siegfried, Ph.D., CEDS who has been promoted to Chief Clinical Officer. Leading Castlewood’s clinical quality activities, clinical data systems and clinical training, Dr. Nicole Siegfried is a licensed clinical psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. Dr. Siegfried is a recognized leader in the field of eating disorders and previously served as National Director of Eating Disorder Program Development at Castlewood. She is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor at University of Alabama at Birmingham and has also served as Associate Professor of Psychology at Samford University. She is an international presenter in the field of eating disorders and suicidality. She is a member of AED and former Co-Chair of the Suicide AED Special Interest Group. Dr. Siegfried has almost 20 years of experience working with patients with eating disorders and helping to transform their lives.
Tammy Beasley, RDN, CEDRD, CSSD, LD, has been promoted to Vice President, Clinical Nutrition Services. Working closely with Dr. Siegfried, Ms. Beasley will focus on program development and staff training to provide consistency and excellence in nutrition programming at all Castlewood programs. Ms. Beasley has been practicing as a registered, licensed dietitian/nutritionist with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for thirty-two years, of which the last 27 have been specialized in the field of eating disorders. Ms. Beasley was the first registered dietitian to become certified (CEDRD) with the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals in 1993 and the first Alabama dietitian to receive the Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) in 2007. Tammy led the iaedp Certification Committee as Director from 2013-2017, during which the CEDRD was approved by the Commission on Dietetic Registration as the certification for registered dietitians working in the eating disorder field. A frequent speaker at national and international conferences, she is passionate about translating evidence-based nutrition science into practical yet innovative strategies within a collaborative treatment team approach to support full recovery.
Mary Russo has been promoted to National Director of Culinary Services. Ms. Russo now brings her passion for innovative menu creation, commitment to staff training and deep understanding of the importance of food as healing medicine to all Castlewood programs. With nearly twenty years of experience in the culinary field, Ms. Russo has owned her own restaurant, cooked in restaurants on the Monterey Peninsula, catered events, and in recent years, worked as a Private Chef. She is a graduate of the International Culinary Center and trained in classical French techniques, food costing, menu design and a myriad of other valuable skills used every day in the critical analysis and execution of Castlewood client menus. Working closely with Ms. Beasley, Ms. Russo will now share her talents with every Castlewood program to ensure consistency, excellence and creativity within menu development and staff training. Most importantly, her insightful and compassionate commitment to create an eating experience that balances nourishment and pleasure on both a physical and emotional level will now support all clients within their recovery journeys.
In closing, Ms. Crute Steiner shared, “These organizational changes are improving how Castlewood serves clients and how we support one another. A refreshed commitment to care quality, a culture of accountability and encouragement of innovation, are making us a better company.”
Castlewood Treatment Centers has announced the appointment of Jennifer Crute Steiner as its new Chief Executive Officer. In this new role, she will build upon the excellent clinical quality of Castlewood’s treatment programs, while also expanding the organization’s reach and profile as an industry leader.
During the last decade, Jennifer has been actively creating positive change in mental health on a national scale. She is driven to improve the standard of care in mental health and eating disorder treatment through impeccable clinical quality, accountability, and innovative care delivery models.
“I am thrilled to begin this leadership journey at Castlewood Treatment Centers,” said Steiner. “Castlewood is nationally recognized as a leader in eating disorders because of its individually tailored treatment, compassionate teams and excellent clinical outcomes. I look forward to shepherding the organization into its next chapter - where we will continue to raise the bar in clinical quality, innovate the way we deliver care, and make a significant impact on the way eating disorders are treated in our country.”
Prior to joining Castlewood, Steiner served as CEO of InnerChange, a leading provider of residential and community-based treatment for adolescents and young adults dealing with mental health challenges. During her tenure, the treatment programs at InnerChange earned a reputation for impeccable quality, cutting-edge innovation and a spirit of collaboration contributing to the best care in the mental health industry. Programs served patients in 15 states, with residential treatment locations in California, Montana, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.
“Jennifer brings a strategic focus, passion for mental health innovation and care, and a proven track record of success. We are thrilled to have her at the helm of the Castlewood team,” said Frank Coliano, chairman of Castlewood Treatment Centers. “Her experience leading health care organizations combined with her knowledge of the mental health care industry and passion for delivering successful outcomes make her an excellent fit for our organization.”
Prior to InnerChange, Steiner served as Division Vice President for Davita Health Care Partners, a leading Fortune 500 provider of kidney care, where she managed all outpatient and home dialysis operations in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Steiner also served as
Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Health Care REIT, a S&P 500 investment trust specializing in health care real estate. In the years preceding her time at Health Care REIT, Steiner was Assistant Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at HCR ManorCare, the leading post-acute and skilled nursing provider in the U.S., where she served for nearly 13 years.
Steiner holds a MBA from the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business, and earned her undergraduate degree in liberal arts from Colorado College. She lives with her husband and three children and enjoys running marathons, reading and being outdoors. Additionally, she is an ardent supporter of “Lead Like A Chiq,” a movement she founded that promotes the power of authentically female leadership.
More about Ms. Steiner can be found on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-steiner-b9a58810) and Instagram (@jennifercrutesteiner). To learn more about Castlewood Treatment Centers, visit www.castlewoodtc.com.
Emily*, a 27-year-old in the medical field, had struggled with an eating disorder for most of her life. She faced some of the darkest days of her eating disorder before deciding to pursue treatment at Castlewood. One year ago, Emily was discharged from Castlewood and is living a full life in recovery. Hear Emily’s story — and learn why Castlewood was where her recovery began.
About her eating disorder: “I have pretty much had an eating disorder my entire life, since I was a young child,” Emily says. She considered it “issues around food,” she says. “I never thought of it as an eating disorder.” She later was diagnosed with both anorexia and anxiety. As an adult working in the medical field, Emily began seeing a therapist. “I’d had intense anxiety my whole life and things just spiraled from there.”
How she made her residential treatment decision: As things became more challenging, Emily was losing weight rapidly. “My therapist told me I needed a higher level of care and I didn’t know what that meant. I was living on the East Coast at that time. I said, I can’t leave my job for treatment, this is crazy.” Her therapist gave her an ultimatum — pursue residential treatment, or check herself into the hospital.
Why she chose Castlewood: Initially, Emily looked for treatment centers on the East Coast, near where she was living. “But my therapist recommended Castlewood, and she really wanted me to go there,” Emily says. She completed her intake process on a Friday and arrived at Castlewood’s St. Louis location on Monday.
Facing her challenges: “I left Castlewood and St. Louis after the first few weeks because I was so ashamed,” Emily recalls, thinking back on one of her lowest moments. “I didn’t want my family to know I was there, I needed to get back to work . . . I left before I should have, with my eating disorder totally in tact. I planned to just keep living that way, but it didn’t work. My eating disorder just got worse and I ended up relapsing even harder. In the moment, it was awful. I was learning the hard way over and over that it wasn’t working. I got to a place where I was the sickest I had ever been and my outpatient team would no longer see me unless I had a higher level of care.” Emily returned to Castlewood in St. Louis, Missouri, for treatment.
Emily’s turning point: “My turning point was probably when I began to realize that I couldn't get away with not doing the therapy work,” Emily says. As she progressed through all of Castlewood’s levels of treatment, from residential to IOP, she gained crucial understanding of the role her eating disorder played in her life.
The therapeutic difference at Castlewood: “I got a lot of insight into what my eating disorder is about and how it has followed me through life,” she says. “Initially, it was having the insight into how secure attachment related to my eating disorder — realizing how the eating disorder develops to protect you, but how it actually works through disconnection.” She also valued her group therapy experiences. “Seeing reflections of yourself in other people, whether it’s something that you value or that you are ashamed of, is one of the biggest things that was helpful to me in treatment.”
Emily’s life today: One year after her time at Castlewood, many things are drastically different her life. “I have insight into what a full life can be, and what I want in life has completely shifted. I feel less hopeless for sure. My lapses don’t turn into relapses, and I’m more able to pick myself up when I am struggling.”
Finding joy in recovery: As a result of her time at Castlewood, Emily finds joy in many aspects of her life. Now living in Chicago, she’s back to work in the medical field. “I adore my job, I love being a nurse and I just started graduate school,” she says. “I have people close to me — I’m much better at letting others in and being true.” She also credits her outpatient team for her ongoing growth.
Castlewood’s legacy: “I’m very happy that I was able to go to Castlewood and that I had the experience I did. Castlewood gave me the insight to rescue myself.” She is particularly grateful for her Castlewood treatment team. “A handful of really incredible people who worked there really connected with me, and made treatment much more manageable. They gave me an idea of what life could look like outside of an eating disorder and it was motivating.”
Her advice for someone facing an eating disorder today: “I was horrified by the entire idea of treatment initially. I felt that it wasn’t for me, I felt I didn’t belong there,” she reflects. “But ultimately, the insight that you will gain from going to treatment is worth going. It’s going to be endlessly hard and it is worth it.”
If Emily’s story sounds like yours, contact Castlewood. If you or someone you know struggles with an eating disorder, reach out for help. Call us today for a confidential assessment: 855-749-8233.
* This Castlewood client requested anonymity because of her profession in the medical field.
Eating disorders are not one-size-fits-all . . . and treatment shouldn’t be either. At Castlewood, clients are accepted, supported and seen. Explore how we treat complex eating disorders to build independence and restore hope.
Defining complex eating disorders
At Castlewood, we believe that every eating disorder is a complex eating disorder. “Eating disorders are a manifestation of a person trying to cope with other issues and problems in their lives,” says Jim Gerber, M.A., ATR, Ph.D. “Our team engages clients in personalized treatment. We dive into their in-depth history to understand how these problems developed in their life.”
Complex eating disorders differ from co-occuring physical ailments — you may have a headache and a sprained ankle at the same time, for example, and these are co-occurring but unrelated. In contrast, a diagnosis like substance abuse or OCD needs to be addressed in conjunction with an eating disorder. For many clients, this may look like having an eating disorder combined with an anxiety disorder, depression, personality disorder or PTSD.
“Disorders are interwoven,” says Dr. Gerber. “We acknowledge and treat the various disorders a person may struggle with — but our goal is always to understand the role those struggle play into the client’s eating disorder.”
Castlewood’s treatment philosophy
Castlewood clients are not defined by their eating disorder. Clients work through their symptoms and address the root causes of their eating disorder in our authentic treatment. They collaborate with a treatment team to create a personalized plan for eating disorder recovery.
“We take an in-depth approach. We dig deep to understand the complexity of the underlying issues that present themselves in the eating disorder,” says Dr. Gerber.
For example, a client may have an eating disorder and depression. The treatment team helps to uncover why and how the depression evolved in this person’s life. If the client is over-achieving, performance oriented and always driven to meet the next goal, then there may be an underlying sense of inadequacy and shame. “Depth therapy allows us to dive into understanding and resolving that underlying sense of inadequacy and shame. We go beyond the controlling symptoms,” says Dr. Gerber.
Why we treat the whole person
We know that eating disorders aren’t simple. And we’re not afraid of the complexity of recovery. “Many programs focus on behavior change and symptom remission,” Dr. Gerber notes. “We do this as part of our approach. But, ultimately, we want enduring change for our clients. That’s why our clients collaborate with our team for integrated treatment. We care that our clients find peace with themselves.”
At Castlewood, we believe lasting recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Our integrated eating disorder treatment builds independence and restores hope. If you or someone you know struggles with an eating disorder, reach out for help. Call us today for a confidential assessment: 855-749-8233.
Do you believe someone you love has an eating disorder? Parents, siblings, friends and significant others all play a key role in the supporting and navigating alongside your loved one on their journey. The first step in supporting them is learning more about eating disorders and becoming equipped to encourage them on their recovery journey. Explore these questions to learn more about eating disorders and how to support someone who may be facing one.
What are the different types of eating disorders?
An important step in supporting someone who may have an eating disorder is knowing the signs and symptoms. No two eating disorders are the same, but people facing an eating disorder often exhibit one or more of these symptoms. At Castlewood Treatment Center, we believe that each client’s disorder defies simple categorization. Eating disorders happen on a spectrum. While some clients may be formally diagnosed with one of the disorders below, many experience a subtle combination of these symptoms and signs.
Symptoms of Anorexia
Severe restriction of caloric intake
Using diet pills, diuretics or laxatives
Unusually poor self-esteem
Frequent excuses for not eating
Showing fear of food
Inability to eat in front of others
Low body weight
Symptoms of Bulimia
Evidence of vomiting or laxative use
Unusual self-criticism and low self-esteem
Visits to the bathroom after meals
Frequent and intensive periods of exercise
Symptoms of Binge Eating
Eating more rapidly than normal
Feeling severe guilt after bingeing
Eating when not hungry
Severe mood swings
Constant attempts at dieting
Eating to the point of feeling painful discomfort
Learn about different signs and symptoms of eating disorders here.
Who gets an eating disorder?
More than 30 million Americans will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their life. Both men and women suffer from eating disorders, and all types of people from different parts of life are affected. Research finds that there are predispositions to eating disorders. When a predisposition occurs in tandem with a trigger or stressor, an eating disorder may develop.
Eating disorders are not a choice. The causes are complex and unique to each individual. The National Eating Disorder Association notes that risk factors for eating disorders can be biological, psychological or social.
Biological Risk Factors
Having a close relative with an eating disorder
Having a close relative with a mental illness
History of dieting
Negative energy balance
Type one diabetes
Psychological Risk Factors
Body image dissatisfaction
Personal history of an anxiety disorder
Depression or anxiety
Social Risk Factors
Size and weight prejudice
Weight-based teasing or bullying
Thin ideal internalization
Smaller social networks
Discover more about what causes eating disorders.
How can I help my loved one with an eating disorder?
If someone you love has an eating disorder, you may experience a range of emotions from fear and guilt to sadness and anger. Know that you are not alone. Your loved one is also not alone.
Encourage your loved one to seek help. This can be a delicate task, but it is necessary for the future well-being of your loved one. When you discuss seeking help with your loved one, remember to empathize with what they are experiencing. Reiterate your love and concern for them. Offer to reach out to make the first call. Here are some questions to ask when evaluating the best treatment facility for your loved one.
Eating disorders are not one-size-fits-all . . . and treatment shouldn't be either. Recovery is possible, and recovery starts at Castlewood. Clients come to Castlewood when they need intentional and intensive treatment. Castlewood approaches recovery by getting to the core of eating disorders. Our integrated eating disorder treatment builds independence and restores hope. At Castlewood, your story is at the center of your recovery. If you are ready to reach out for or with your loved one, Castlewood is here to help. Call us today for a confidential assessment at 877-794-8233.
Written by Sarah Kate Hutchison, Castlewood Alumnus
Do I want to live a life worth living, or do I want to live a life with my eating disorder -- one that won’t last very long?
This was a question I faced a little over a year ago… a question that I didn’t know the answer to at the time. I had struggled with my eating disorder for many years and had gone to treatment various times, and yet I kept relapsing with little hope and a diminishing desire to get better. I doubted that recovery was possible for me even though my treatment team, family, and friends were telling me otherwise.
After being told I had to go back to a residential treatment facility, a huge feeling of defeat and anger came over me. This was the wake-up call that I dreaded. Where was the snooze button… you know, that button to shut off the alarm you don’t want to hear? Well, this snooze button did not exist for me. I had to choose if I wanted to wake up and live a life worth living or if I wanted to keep living with my eating disorder.
After a few days of contemplation and many mixed emotions, I chose to give treatment one more chance. I promised myself that I was going to try my hardest this time to find freedom in recovery. I knew that I was about to face the biggest challenge of my life: learning how to navigate through some of my greatest fears and work on things I had never talked about in depth before. These were things that had kept me trapped in a false sense of reality. Although the thought of changing some of these was crippling at times, I went back to the question of if I wanted to live a life worth living or continue on the path of my eating disorder, and most of the time the answer was a life worth living.
To say that the months spent at Castlewood and at Castlewood at The Highlands working towards retraining my brain and shifting my beliefs to match reality was easy would be the biggest understatement of my life. Rather, these months would prove to be trying and filled with tears and pain. But I had treatment teams in both St. Louis and in Birmingham who guided the process, I had other clients who became like family to me, who heard me through it all and related to parts of my story, and I had my friends and family back home who cheered me on the entire way. This time in treatment was different for many reasons, but the most important difference was that this time I chose. I chose to go, after trying to get my way with my outpatient team. I chose to put in the work I needed to do to start changing my old habits. I chose to make this time in treatment different than past stays. I CHOSE TO LIVE!
Shannon L. Alder stated, “There comes a time in your life when you have to choose to turn the page, write another book, or simply close it.” Since discharging and returning to everyday life, I will admit it has been difficult. I’ve experienced struggles and days where the choice to live free or live with my eating disorder is hard to make. The everyday stressors of life get in the way sometimes. However, I work to remind myself of the progress I’ve made, and how it has brought me this far. I wouldn’t be in nursing school and working part-time had it not been for the choices in recovery that I’ve made in the past year. Despite how much I may dislike change, recovery looks a little different each day. I am allowing myself to express emotions truthfully rather than through my eating disorder. I am finding things in life that are meaningful, and I am working to use my voice to make decisions that guide me where I want to go in life. Overall, recovery is a choice I am working to make each day!
Recovery is possible. You can be the inspiration that leads someone else to seeking recovery for their eating disorder. Share your story today and help evoke change #MyCastlewoodStory
Tired? It’s okay that you don’t know how to take care of yourself right now. Can you imagine if someone else could do that for you so you can have a moment of peace? I remember feeling like if I just had a break from myself, I could get better. I just needed a break. A break from the constant haunting feeling of having to give in to the eating disorder behaviors to feel okay, even if it was just for a brief second. The negative thinking and the inner pain just cannot be explained.
I chose one day to let go and trust the professionals. Surprisingly, it felt like a relief more than like a nightmare. Someone was saving me from me, and that felt good. I had eating disorder specialists decide when and how much I was going to eat — that lifted my guilt. I couldn’t judge how I was overeating or undereating and if I didn’t deserve to eat. I just had to eat.
I remember the first meal: I drank my water too fast, and I learned that I was only allowed so many cups of water at a time. I hadn’t even noticed that I was feeling uncomfortable with having food and tasting food in my mouth. I had lived so long within my head and constantly felt ashamed that I had desires to eat and that I enjoyed food. How dare I not even notice my thoughts in that moment?
But when you are in treatment you get to know how the eating disorder has affected your body, and guess what? It is not as bad as you think it is. You haven’t gone too far. You can still heal. You will heal. That is what is amazing about our bodies. We hate them, but they don’t hate us. You have a BFF waiting for you to reciprocate — pulling you through until you take the step to help yourself. The best thing about treatment is that you get a glimpse into what it is like to be away from the eating disorder. The challenging part is that you have FEELINGS that are ready to be released! So many feelings: anger, sadness, anxiety, happiness, confusion and much, much more. Within all of this, you are finding yourself in all of the chaos, within a safe place and surrounded by professionals dedicated to your recovery. You will learn that you are smart, funny, complex, intense, sensitive, and now you can have a chance to be all of those things that make you, you. A moment to silence the negative thoughts and to learn and validate why you needed the eating disorder during a difficult time in your life.
Now the question is, what do you want to do? How do you make all of the dreams you desire to accomplish come true? Because you can. You were smart enough to use the eating disorder to save and protect you at a time that was necessary, and now that it isn’t working, your SELF is ready to shine.
If this is an article you relate to, reach out and get help because you deserve YOU!
Introducing Chef Mary at Castlewood Treatment Center at Monarch CoveWhat do you love most about working at Monarch Cove?
Being able to utilize the creativity and artistry of cooking to develop my craft on an ongoing basis is something that I’m grateful for every day. What I love most about working at Monarch Cove is that I’m able to use that daily inspiration to nourish our clients and be instrumental in developing or restoring their relationship with food.
What made you decide to become a Chef?
I’ve always been someone who wanted to cook. I spent many years preparing dinners for holidays, gatherings with family and friends, or any occasion that I could think of. When I moved on to cooking for people in a professional capacity, it was a part of me that evolved into something that I could no longer not do. Over the years, my cooking has evolved into preparing food for people on more of a personal basis, so to be able to help someone in their recovery makes my heart very happy.
What is Castlewood Cooking Experiences: Balancing Nourishment and Pleasure and how has it helped our clients?
Castlewood Cooking Experiences is a part of our Life Skills program, to help our clients develop practical, real-life kitchen knowledge and skills with meal planning and preparation. Each week one client comes into the kitchen and works with one of our experienced Chefs to assist with dinner preparation. The session lasts for one hour and can include anything from assembling salads, preparing desserts, helping cook, chopping and preparing ingredients -- anything involved in organizing and preparing a balanced meal.
Castlewood Cooking Experiences program can help our clients soften or remove “taboos” surrounding food preparation, learn how to use everyday kitchen equipment, learn the fundamentals of how to organize and create a balanced meal, practice kitchen/cooking skills that they already have, and develop ideas about food combinations. It helps clients know that they can come into a safe environment, with no pressure, and be exposed to food in a hands-on, practical way.
Our clients are able to be creative and prepare food for their peers. This not only gives them experience with food preparation, but also a sense of accomplishment that they can revisit and bring with them as they transition into their recovery and life beyond residential treatment.
If you would like to learn more about Castlewood Cooking Experiences and our different treatment options, please call our Intake Department at 866.371.0382