Thursday, December 24, 2009

Eating Disorders and the Holidays

Families living with an eating disorder can find the holidays extra challenging with all the focus on food. There are so many different stresses and foods that can be frightening for people facing eating disorders.

Last night I got to have a conversation with Peter McClellan on his radio show 401k Latte about eating disorders at the holidays. We talked about the huge spreads of food that can be overwhelming and stress inducing. Take a listen:

Peter asked some great questions to open up the conversation about how both parents and health care providers can support someone with an eating disorder. A few things we talked about were:

* As family member; put on your oxygen mask first-make a Top Ten list and do 1 each day
* Family members can help by: Learning to let go with love
* Don't make comments about other people's bodies
* Low fat - Low Calorie diets backfire - they don't work
* Language from health care providers is important - telling patients to lose weight not only doesn't help - it hurts.
* Health care providers can ask open ended questions about what a patient's health care goals are can enroll the patient in the process of making healthy choices.
* Health Care providers can attend: to learn more
* The book: Just Tell Her to Stop can be pre-ordered at:
* Weight-ism is alive and well and needs to be addressed
* People can be health at many different sizes
* Focus on overall health to achieve your health goals
* Insurance and eating disorders coverage - Academy for Eating Disorders works for mental health parity
* Book on family stories of living with eating disorders website will be live in a couple weeks:
* I received the Braveheart Award for living life with Passion and Inspiration
* College professors can order the book to add to their curriculum
* Pharmaceutical companies are invited to purchase the books to donate to eating disorders treatment centers.

I welcome your comments on the show. What have you heard from your health care provider that has backfired for you? What comments have you found helpful while recovering from an eating disorder?

I hope you will focus on what you are grateful for this holiday season and have peace.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How helpful is "War on Obesity?"

After interviewing a number of larger people for my book: Just Tell Her To Stop; Stories of Families Surviving Eating Disorders, I have seen close up and personal how incredibly unhelpful and downright damaging anti-obesity statements can be for people.

I have heard stories of people being shamed for being "overweight" all in the name of intending to help them be healthier. Well, it backfires.

Here is one such short story. A woman I spoke with went to the doctor for a physical and in the process was told, "You need to lose 70 pounds." What happened next was a stress response (as I have learned from my brilliant Registered Dietician friend Michele Gorman) that sent her not to the gym but instead across the street for a doughnut.

What can we do differently as people who are trying to help others to achieve health? I can tell you that from what I have learned, it is not shaming people. There are other behavioral approaches to achieve health and sometimes it may not have anything to do with weight. What a concept.

That is what drew me to collaborate with a small coalition of health care providers to share a new paradigm for healthy body image, eating, fitness and weight. Check out the continuing ed program being held in Minneapolis Jan 16th, 2010:

Here is the latest from the Association for Size Diversity & Health:

(PRWEB) December 16, 2009 -- The Association for Size Diversity and Health joins national and international eating disorders organizations in urging school administrators, employers and health policy makers to focus on health rather than weight in all populations.

"We offer as a resource in this shift the principles and science behind Health At Every Size that are available at our website,,"; ASDAH president Deb Lemire said.

The weight-neutral Health At Every Size (HAES) movement calls for size acceptance, an end to weight discrimination, and lessening of the cultural obsession with weight loss and thinness.

Last week the Academy for Eating Disorders, Binge Eating Disorder Association, Eating Disorders Coalition, International Association for Eating Disorders Professionals and National Eating Disorders Association issued an unprecedented joint press release expressing concern that strategies in the global "war on obesity" fuel weight prejudice and contribute to negative self-esteem, body dissatisfaction and eating-disordered behavior. Their concern aligns with ASDAH's position that weight-focused health messages and practices harm the health of people of all sizes by increasing body shame, eating-disordered behavior, and health care avoidance, and by failing to address the health needs of people of all sizes.

ASDAH is an international organization composed of health professionals, scientists and activist committed to promoting all aspects of health and well-being for all populations. Its basic principles of Health At Every Size ( recognize the multidimensionality of health and well-being and promote balanced eating and enjoyable physical activity, rather than eating or exercise focused on weight loss.


Source : PRWeb

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Moving the Weight Paradigm from Dread and Failure to Balance and Health

Today I am putting finishing touches on my presentation for the January 16th CE course for health care providers. If you are looking for more information on helping your patients with weight issues come and check out this course and get your CE credits!

We hope you will take advantage of this important continuing education opportunity.

This 1-day workshop is approved for 7 CEUs for most healthcare and mental health professionals
Moving the Weight Paradigm from Dread and Failure to Balance and Health - Promoting Healthy Body Image, Eating, Fitness, and Weight
Training healthcare providers, mental health therapists, dietary specialists, educators, administrators, and legislators to respond more effectively to the full spectrum of eating and weight concerns.
For more information, read on, or go to:
To register, click on this link:

Please forward to anyone who might find this of interest.

Date: Saturday, January 16, 2010—9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Lunch Included
Location: Zurah Shrine Center, 2540 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Why attend?

You cannot solve problems using the same thinking that created them. (Albert Einstein)

Whether for appearance or health, worry about weight affects the lives of most people today, and at ever younger ages. Healthcare providers, therapists, dieticians, educators and legislators are increasingly called upon to respond, give advice, or develop policies in regard to weight, even as top health authorities are uncertain about the best way to do so. With eating disorders on the one hand and a rising rate of obesity on the other, it is critical that those in positions of influence and authority understand the complex issues involved to avoid adding to the problem. In turn they must become skilled, confident, and effective in discussing weight in ways that do not inadvertently promote body dissatisfaction or shame, disordered eating, or complacency about eating and fitness. Moving Mountains 4 Health informs and trains professionals in a universal, evidence-based approach that may be used with confidence to promote the attitudes and behaviors needed for positive body image, wholesome lifestyle habits, and healthy weight, regardless of size.

What will you learn?
An effective, evidence-based model for healthy body image, eating, fitness and weight: Hear an overview of the risk factors underlying the full spectrum of body image and weight concerns today. Take away a new model for prevention and intervention and the language to deliver it that is applicable to all ages.

How the STRESS RESPONSE (including worry about weight) contributes to problems, and skills to intervene: Identify how stress relates to appetite, eating, physical activity and hormonal imbalances that contribute to weight problems. Learn evidence-based methods for maintaining balance in the face of stress, versus turning to self-sabotaging behaviors.
Teaching how (versus what) to eat: the feeding relationship and health: Review development and feeding from infancy through adolescence and how worrying about weight distorts the feeding relationship with far-reaching consequences. Learn to teach “Feeding Competency 101.”

Identifying, differentiating and referring eating disorders across the spectrum: Gain tools for effectively identifying disordered eating and eating disorders, as well as communicating with patients and their families about medical care and referral for specialized treatment.
How to use the new paradigm in your practice to support health as a value versus size as a goal: Promotion of health-supporting behaviors and balance versus size or weight is an evidence-based approach that reduces stress, eliminates self-sabotaging efforts, and gives everyone an equal opportunity to succeed.

Who is Moving Mountains 4 Health?
Moving Mountains 4 Health is a coalition of professionals who are passionate about promoting healthy body image, eating, fitness and weight.

Michele Gorman, MS, RD, LD is an award winning dietitian and president of the Minnesota Dietetics Association.
Kathy Kater LICSW is a psychotherapist, author of Healthy Body Image, and a nationally known authority on body image, eating and weight issues.

Katja Rowell MD is a family doctor turned childhood feeding expert.

Becky Henry CPPC is an eating disorders coach, parent and author of an upcoming book for families living with eating disorders.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Want CEU's for learning more about weight issues?

You're Invited...

Training health professionals, educators and administrators to talk effectively with patients, clients, students and their families about weight.
Title: Moving the Weight Paradigm from Dread and Failure to Balance and Health: Promoting Healthy Body Image, Eating, Fitness and Weight
Presenters: Kathy Kater LICSW; Michele Gorman MS RD LD; Becky Henry CPCC; Katja Rowell MD
When: Saturday, January 16; 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Conference Information: and Registration

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Support for those in ED Recovery - EDEN Recovery Skills Tele-Class

If you or your loved one is in recovery and would like a boost to stay on track with all the work you have done - join others on this journey of supportive coaching!

I am now offering a Group Tele-class featuring the EDEN Curriculum 17 week

Recovery Skills Course. The calls are 45 - 60 minutes in length - held Tuesdays, (10-11 am CST). The cost for the 17 weeks including the $20.00 cost of the curriculum, (which I
will mail to each participant, includes postage) is $270.97 which =
$15.90 per week, can be paid to either Becky Henry or Hope Network, Inc. I
also have a paypal account you can use too. If you need to make payments
this can be done in 3 installments of $93.32 each which = $279.96. One
before beginning, the next at 4 weeks and the last at 10 weeks.

Here is the outline of the 17 weeks: (you may join in at any point)

Recovery Perspectives & Planning

Defining Healthy/Picturing Recovery

Metaphors for Recovery

Identity & Goal Setting

Stress Management

Exploring Exercise and Brain Chemistry

Nurturing the Spiritual Side


Images of Eating Disorders & Recovery


Media Influence

Reaching Our Goals

Barriers & Motivators

Inspiration for Recovery

Limiting Beliefs

Challenging Your Limiting Beliefs

The Journey to Recovery

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sharing NEDA learning

There is so much I learned at the NEDA 09 conference it is hard to know where to begin in sharing all of the information I gathered. So, I'll just share the papers that are on top of the stack of information I gathered, none is necessarily more important than another. It is all urgent, as we need to work quickly to find causes and better treatments for these life altering disorders.

Mainly I gained HOPE. Hope that full recovery is possible for all people affected by eating disorders. I have my Hope glass stone on my desk to remind me every day that it isn't just the name of my business - it is a real concept!

I met researchers from UCSD who are doing research studies that they need volunteers for. That is good news for those of you looking for no cost family therapy for teens with Anorexia Nervosa.

I'll be tweeting about this and their program seeking women recovered from Anorexia or Bulimia Nervosa. You could receive up to $1200 for completing brain imaging scans and assessments.

Give them a call or email: 858-534-8062 or The people at University of California, San Diego Medical Center will answer your questions.

Now back to organizing all of my new contacts that I made. Feel free to contact me - that will free me up to finish the book.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Another Resource for Eating Disorders

Just back from the eWomenNetwork conference in Dallas. Wow, what amazing women I met! So inspiring and hope creating. I made some great connections with women who are making a difference in the lives of those living with eating disorders. Can't wait to share with you the positive outcomes of these new relationships. I know we'll be collaborating to bring more resources to families impacted by eating disorders.

Speaking of resources, I just read on PR web about the Kartini Clinic in Portland, OR. So fun as I just had read about it in Laura Collins book: Eating With Your Anorexic and now I saw this article. Must be something I need to know about and would like to share with you. Here is the link to the article:
And here is the basic information about Kartini Clinic:
The Kartini Clinic for Disordered Eating in Portland, Oregon was founded in 1998 by Dr. Julie O'Toole in the knowledge that parents don't cause eating disorders and children don't choose to have them. Kartini Clinic serves children and young adults, aged 6 to 22, with all forms of disordered eating. For a free consultation with our intake coordinator, please call 503 249 8851, or visit our web site at

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Do you care about someone with an eating disorder?

If you love, care about or know someone well who is in recovery from an eating disorder you may be feeling helpless, overwhelmed, afraid, upset, and more. There is so little that loved ones can do at times.

This is your gentle summer reminder to take good care of yourself. It may seem selfish and counter intuitive but it is of higher moral ground to practice extreme self care.

Have you made your top 10 list yet? If you don't know what I'm talking about I'll fill you in. When I was at the beginning of learning how to be an effective parent of someone with an eating disorder I had a pastor who gave me one of the best pieces of advice I've ever gotten. She said I needed to no only practice this extreme self care but I needed to make a TOP 10 List of things that fill me up. This seemed so greedy and selfish to me at that point, but I get it now. It's that old oxygen mask theory, if you don't have yours on, you can't care for another.

So, you out there, making sure someone else's needs are being taken care's time. So get out the prettiest paper you have and make a list of things you love to do, that fill you up. And at least one EVERY DAY. Yes, every day. This will fill your cup back up and make you an even better care giver.

It might seem such a small thing to do but it is essential. If you are burned out, you will be of no use to your loved one. They need you, and they need you to be strong. So, do the right thing and go fill yourself up!

Eating disorders can destroy relationships as well as lives - do your part to preserve your sanity and health so that you can actively preserve the relationship. That doesn't mean it is going to be all wine and roses, but you can do your best to show the person in recovery that they are loved. Not an easy task with someone who often thinks they are unloveable.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Abonormal Brain Circuitry may Cause Anorexia

What? Could this be the evidence we need to increase understanding that people don't choose to have eating disorders and can't just stop? The online journal, Nature Reviews Neuroscience published this latest find which may give more understanding to why people develop anorexia and it's behaviors.

Thanks to Dr. Walter Kaye and his colleagues at UCSD and the research they have done at the Eating Disorders Program we have another insight into this deadly disease. As any family who has lived with this frightening disease knows; anorexia has the highest death rate of any psychiatric condition. It's hard to believe but there still are few effective treatments for anorexia. This research suggests that people with anorexia have an imbalance in brain circuitry that regulates emotions and rewards. Hopefully this will give insights for those who are challenged in experiencing pleasure, worry a lot and tend to be perfectionists.

Let's hope that this will give us some more effective treatments for anorexia! So good to see more and more research happening for all of these disorders that are not only deadly but also destroy families.

Read more about the research on this area of the brain called the anterior insula and the role it plays in how people are aware of their internal body signals.

Also, don't forget that all are welcome to the NEDA Conference in Minneapolis, MN in September. Check that out too on the website I'm on the host committee and look forward to meeting you and sharing secrets to our fun cities.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Research May Help Understanding Biological Basis of Eating Disorders

As I'm completing the book for families - check out the website for new chapters being added regularly - I'm excited to see new research that might help promote more understanding of the biological basis of eating disorders.

Exciting news from John's Hopkins University School of Medicine with research into changes in brain receptors with certain foods. These research results have implications for understanding bulimia and other binge eating disorders (BED). I'm so excited to hear this as there seems to be so little research on these two eating disorders in general and it seems we hear more about anorexia even though bulimia and BED are much more common.

Check out the article to learn more about the findings on the opioid receptor levels:

Also, don't forget to sign up for the NEDA Conference in September here in Minneapolis!

Enjoy your summer!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Media Exposure

Check out Cheryl Dellasega's blog at Everything Ophelia ( Just read her great post about the Three Sister's band that is doing great things in the world. The part I'm most excited about is the media exposure. They are trying to make a difference in what young kids see that can lead them to have poor body image, which we know can lead to eating disorders.

I'm really busy finishing the book for families, just finished Kitty Westin's chapter. As soon as the preliminary editing is done I'll add that to the list of chapters that can be purchased on my website. I hope you are finding those chapters helpful to you as you navigate your family through an eating disorder.

Enjoy the band Three Sisters too!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Anorexia Research

I find it encouraging to see new research coming out about eating disorders. It gives me hope that there will someday be a cure. For the meantime, it gives me hope because I know that there is actually some money being spent on research on eating disorders. That is so important, given the high mortality rate with eating disorders and the lives that are destroyed even when people are able to stay alive.

Check out the press release on the latest research on Anorexia:

Marking anorexia with a brain protein

A biomarker for anorexia?

Eating disorders are frequently seen as psychological or societal diseases, but do they have an underlying biological cause? A new study shows that the levels of a brain protein differ between healthy and anorexic women.

Anorexia is a serious and occasionally fatal eating disorder most commonly affecting women. Scientists do not yet understand the physical causes of anorexia, though some studies suggest a link to low levels of a brain protein called BDNF. Now, a study recommended by Cynthia Bulik, a member of Faculty of 1000 Medicine and leading expert in the field of psychiatry and eating disorders, shows that BDNF levels are higher in women who have recovered from anorexia. This suggests that low BDNF levels may be reversible.

Researchers at Chiba University in Japan found that anorexic women had lower levels of BDNF in their blood than healthy women or those who had recovered from anorexia. Women with low BDNF also had the lowest self-image, suffered from anxiety and depression, and performed poorly on certain tests of cognitive ability.

Further study is needed to determine what role BDNF plays in anorexia, and if it can be used to predict the risk of developing it, but Bulik forecasts that "...BDNF may emerge as a useful biomarker of [anorexia] and of recovery from [anorexia]."


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What to say to someone with an eating disorder

Where do I begin? There is so much I could say about our culture, how we find it perfectly okay to make comments about another's appearance when we greet them. I really want to get to the point today and give you some really concrete language to remind yourself and your friends and family to use when talking with a loved one in eating disorder recovery.

You may have been told by care providers: Don't mention his/her appearance. WAAAYYY easier said than done, I know. But it is essential. Why, you ask? Well, basically if you say something like, "You look so healthy." The eating disorder that is the powerful force that has inhabited your loved one is going to hear: "You are fat, you have gained so much weight, you fat pig." I know, this sounds incredible, but it is true.

So, again, the skills build on one another. If we can stick with keeping our loved one and the eating disorder separate, then we can know that it will be the eating disorder, not our loved one who hears something negative and destructive.

In interviewing Kitty Westin yesterday to write her story for my upcoming book for families, by families: Just Tell Her To Stop: Families Surviving the Crisis of an Eating Disorder–Moving From Fear To Hope (new working title), she shared a story with me that she heard from another family. Kitty hears from families all over the country about their challenges with eating disorders and she had such wisdom to share with me and this person about what to say when a well meaning friend or family member makes a comment about the appearance of our loved one in eating disorder recovery. This woman, I'll call her Jane, shared with Kitty that her close friend was so happy to see that Jane's daughter had gained some weight during her treatments for anorexia. She came into their home and saw Jane's daughter and proclaimed, "Oh, wow, you're getting a girlish figure again!" Now this friend, really was happy and so glad to see this progress towards reclaimed health, she meant no harm. But, it was very damaging to Jane's daughter.

Kitty's words of wisdom were for Jane to go to her daughter in private and ask her, "What did your eating disorder hear when my friend said that?" Then listen to the horrific lies the eating disorder told her. Ask what else was heard. Then ask, "What do you know that she meant?" LISTEN AGAIN. Then ask what she needs to do to take care of herself. Remind her that the stronger voice needs to be heard. Also remind her that the comment gave the eating disorder more ammunition.

Looks easy on paper, but it is harder to do in the moment. Especially when your heart stops and your mind races to thoughts of years of more therapy to cancel out that one comment.

We'll never be able to train all of our family, friends and neighbors about what to say. So it is about empowering the person in recovery to take back her power from the eating disorder.

I'd love to hear how you have found effective ways of coping with unintentionally destructive comments.

Friday, June 12, 2009

What does "Using Symptoms" mean?

One of my editors for my book for families: Just Tell Her To Stop; Stories of Families Moving From Fear and Panic to Peace and Hope (working title), questioned my use of the phrase "Using Symptoms" yesterday. I have become so accustomed to the phrase that I didn't realize that not all readers might know what it means.

It is important for family members of people with eating disorders and also health care providers who treat people with eating disorders to understand how their language may impact the use of symptoms.

My understanding of using symptoms is an unhealthy way of coping with stress for people in eating disorder recovery. What this means very simply is: when a person with the eating disorder is feeling stressed, overwhelmed, lame, worthless, guilty, basically feeling badly about themselves or something they did or didn't do; they may fall into their pattern of utilizing ineffective behaviors to cope.

What can this look like? I don't want to get into too much detail here because some people who are still struggling may see these things I say as a "trigger" (which is another term to learn about another day), so I don't want to be the cause of more destructive behavior, therefore will keep this simple, general and brief. If you want to know more we can talk about it but I don't want to put triggering information out here in this cache to be here forever. For those supporting people in recovery, it will be helpful to know that "using symptoms" for the person in recovery can mean that they will skip eating, purge, eat or do whatever it is that they do to utilize their destructive behaviors to calm themselves.

An example of how language of a care provider or family or friend might trigger the "use of symptoms" could be saying simply: "You look so healthy, it looks like you are getting better." It sounds so positive and encouraging doesn't it? Well, to a person in recovery this is what they might hear when you say that: "You are so big." "You are fat." "You need to cut back on calories so you can get back to being thinner." "You've failed at even your eating disorder and now you are too big." Sounds irrational. Well, that's one irrational way that eating disorders impact people. Staying away from comments about appearance and food are essential. AND, I know that it is extremely hard to do. And, there is not much you can do as a family when loved ones come over who haven't seen your person in recovery for a long time and they burst forth with what they think is a compliment: "Oh, you look so great!" AAAarrrrggg, you think, all that therapy, undone in one fell swoop. Hopefully not, but if you can educate your doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers, family, friends...send them to this article so that they can understand the gravity and impact of their words. This is a concept that can be challenging for people to grasp and they might think that they are having to tiptoe around the person in recovery. Well, it might feel like tiptoeing but, it's better than attending a funeral. Once people understand how great the negative impact can be, then they will be more likely to heed your advice.

For health care providers this can be a huge challenge as weighing is such a major part of our typical medical checkups. There are ways to weigh people without informing them of their weight, this is essential for people who are in recovery and often it would be useful for teens and pre-teens who are very sensitive about their size.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hope Network Programs and Services

With springtime in the air and swimsuit season approaching it is once again a tough time of year for those in recovery from eating disorders. One thing that often helps people get beyond those negative messages can be to have a list posted on your bathroom mirror with 30 positive things about yourself. Give it a try, you might need help from others to get ideas, but I bet you can think of at least 5 right away.

Today you get to see a video of me talking about what programs and services Hope Network currently has.

I'll be posting this on my website soon, take a look at the new chapters that will be available there next week.

Enjoy your weekend and be thankful for all that is good in your life.

Monday, May 11, 2009

National Eating Disorders Conference

Here is an opportunity for families, treatment providers and health and education professionals to come together to learn from one another.

The Annual NEDA Conference is the only event of its kind designed to address the needs of families, those affected by eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia or binge eating. The agenda also includes sessions for families, treatment providers and health and educational professionals. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a chance to come together to meet others, share stories and foster connections in a warm, welcoming environment.

September 10-12, Minneapolis, MN
Reshaping Our Future:
A Vision for Recovery, Research, Attitudes and Action!

That's all for today. More information coming soon about next 10-Week Family Course.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Weightism and judgment

I've been talking a lot lately to people about weightism. What is that you say? Well, in my basic translation it means, judgment about people based on their weight/size. As I'm interviewing people for the book to help families through their journey with eating disorders I'm hearing some really sad and unbelievable stories. One woman, who has binge eating disorder told me about her visit to her gynecologist for her annual exam. As she is having her exam (a very vulnerable position for any of us) the doctor decides to talk with her about her obesity, she is self-described as "morbidly obsese." The doctor says, "You know, if you want to lose weight, you should move to Asia as they don't have these disgusting obesity problems there." You can read the rest of her story in the upcoming book temporarily titled: "Navigating the rough waters of an ED; A Guide from Fear and Panic to Peace and Hope" (temp working title).

What exactly this "doctor" was hoping to achieve besides belittling and berating this woman is unclear. What is clear to me is a serious lack of training and a serious problem with prejudice against large people by the medical profession. That is just one of the reasons I am working with a coalition that has developed a healthy weight curriculum for all medical care providers to take to receive their CME credits. One of our goals is to bring this into medical schools so that future health care providers at least have clue as to how to treat people with respect. As you can see I am quite passionate about some changes that need to be made in the medical profession when it comes to eating disorders. Many aren't even aware that binge eating disorder is even a recognized eating disorder much less being aware that is the most prevalent of all the eating disorders.

I just read a wonderful article on about a beautiful singer named Susan Boyle that demonstrates our society's acceptance of weightism. I think Sherry Nau says it quite well.

Susan Boyle is a lesson for those who make quick judgments

Sherry Nau • guest essayist • April 26, 2009

The sudden rise to fame of Susan Boyle, the talented woman discovered on the show, Britain's Got Talent, highlights the ongoing objectification and stereotypes of women.

Consider the responses of the judges who described her as "the biggest surprise ever in the three-year history of the show," and admitted "everyone was against you." Why was she a surprise? Why did everyone think she couldn't sing?

The answer lies in the use of women in the media whose bodies are used to sell everything from liquor to fishing lures. In ads women are pictured in sexualized dress and positions. The women are perfect with no wrinkles, no blemishes, and certainly no bulges.

The message is clear: "These are women every other woman should aspire to resemble."

Trying to achieve the ultimate body comes at a cost to both girls and women. It is estimated that 7 million Americans have an eating disorder, and 1 in 200 American women suffers from anorexia. The occurrence of eating disorders in young girls has also increased as they feel pressured by friends and the media (Consider Hannah Montana — a size 4) who set the expectation that beautiful is thin and perfect. In a 2003 review it was found that 40 percent of newly identified cases of anorexia are in girls 15-19 years old.

CNN opened their story of Susan Boyle by describing her as "frumpy."

How inspiring it would have been if the story began, "A beautiful woman's song wins the hearts of many."
Nau is adjunct professor, University of Rochester, Warner School

Thank you Sherry for your valuable insights.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Eating disorders and healthy weight

I read a great article today in the San Diego State University's Independent Student Newspaper you can read it here:

I love that the writer, Rachel Calkins, points out something that so many people, including way too many medical professionals, do not know: many people with eating disorders are of a healthy weight.

Being of a healthy weight can be true for people with all eating disorders: BED - Binge Eating Disorder (by the way, the most common of all eating disorders), AN - Anorexia Nervosa, EDNOS- Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified and BN - Bulimia Nervosa. I get very frustrated when I hear people say: "Well, he/she doesn't look like she/he has an eating disorder." Would you say that about someone with cancer? Especially if you are a medical care provider, it is essential information. You cannot tell if someone has an eating disorder by looking at them and making comments about their size only exacerbates the problems they are dealing with.

I especially like that Rachel points out the seriousness of eating disorders and touches on some of the devastating effects they can cause to the body. I'm posting the great diagram here from the US Dept. of Health and Human Services that demonstrates some of bulimia's effects on the body.

I am glad to see large Universities taking these illnesses seriously and allowing astute writers such as Rachel to publish such important articles. It's time to get rid of the stigma and start helping people.
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

following eating disorders blogs

Update, I figured out how to follow some of my favorite blogs including some great eating disorders prevention/treatment blogs. I'm embarrassed that it took me so long to figure out the easy way to do it, but am glad I persevered. Which is what people with eating disorders continue to do every day, keep on keeping on. One day at a time. Take little steps.

For today my mantra is: Inch by inch, life's a cinch, Yard by yard; life is hard.

Enjoy checking out: and

Both are great resources for anyone affected by eating disorders.

Watch for information on fall retreat to Tucson, AZ! Also, more book chapters coming soon. Watch for details of next in person course: Parents of kids with eating disorders 10-week class coming late spring to Eden Prairie, MN at Intentional Serenity new headquarters. Watch website and blog for more info.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Teens - Self Esteem and Substance Abuse

Parents, I'm looking for what you want to know about helping prevent substance abuse in your teens as well as boosting their self-esteem.

Please let me know what you would like to hear. I'll be speaking this fall in my local school district on the topic of self-esteem and how it relates to substance abuse. I would like to know what you are looking for as a parent of a teen/pre-teen.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Portion of Chapter from Book - Perfectionism

From time to time I'll be posting a portion of a chapter from the book as I'm writing it, these will be in no particular order, the editors will get to choose that. I look forward to hearing your comments.

The current working title is:
Just Tell Her To Stop; Stories of Families Thriving Through the Crisis of An Eating Disorder

CH # __- Perfectionism
A Heartwarming Story of Recovery and Survival - Stacy's story

When Stacy was thirteen, it was during her month-long August visit to her father's home that anorexia got a strong hold on her and took over completely. As soon as she arrived back home just before school began, her mom knew right away what was going on. In spite of getting medical help immediately, it still took ten years of her life away from her. As a thirty-something recovered person, Stacy wanted to make sure you hear what didn't work because she feels that is much more helpful than the clinical information in a textbook. Here is the story of the smartest, sweetest, prettiest and most popular girl in school who was also the best in choir and all of the many clubs she participated in.

Stacy’s Story
Gazing out over the azure-colored sea should have been calming and enjoyable. The blue ripples of water crashed against the shore in a rhythmic motion, and relaxing seemed to be the order of the day on our family vacation to the tropics. I could see my family beginning to unwind and thaw out from our freezing Minnesota winter as we sat in our comfy lounge chairs by the pool overlooking the sea. All I could think about, or I should say, all my eating disorder would let me think about–was food. I couldn't escape it, the anorexia had followed me on our vacation and would steal the precious relaxing moments from me.
Worrying about the next meal, the only thing on my mind was, "Oh no, I have to face food again, I cannot control this anxiety, but I can control what I put into my mouth." How did this happen to me? I hope they don't say anything to me as I push my food around on my plate. Maybe they will be busy enjoying themselves and won't notice. Part of me hopes they will confront me so I can get rid of this cruel best friend I've named “Ed,” “Bully” (when it switched over to bulimia), and “IT.”

Always the perfect little girl, and out of the six kids in our family, I gave my parents the least amount of trouble–that is until Ed showed up. I got good grades, had friends, and didn't try drinking like most teens. My dad is an alcoholic and even at age ten, I was able to connect the dots that I shouldn't drink as a way to control my anxieties, as I would probably follow in his footsteps.

As a quiet ten year old, I knew better than to say anything about the unspoken tension in the house as my parents’ marriage began deteriorating. I just kept doing everything really well–perfect, actually. In fact, I was a normal pre-teen girl who had an emotional issue I needed to deal with, and that was the result of never hearing that the marriage problems weren’t my fault. As is typical with kids, I blamed myself for the failing marriage. The self-blame led to a need to feel control and power, and I used the eating disorders symptoms to accomplish this. That’s when Ed came into my life and I began to abuse food as a way of coping...

If you'd like to see more of this or other chapters take a look at the website where you can purchase one or more chapters for only $9.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Book Chapter Coming Soon

Watch here for chapters of my upcoming book. I'll be posting chapters for you to read as they are written. Some changes will happen after the editors get their eyes on them but for the most part this is the essence of the book. I've done 19 interviews so far and am writing as much as possible.

I'll be having a contest for best title in the coming weeks so look for that too. Right now the working title is still something like:
Just Tell Her To Stop; Real Tools, Resources and Hope when Loving Someone With an Eating Disorder

Comments are welcome. I am somewhat concerned about "Just Tell Her To Stop" being offensive, but I think most people will get it that being told that is crazy and unhelpful and we've all been told that at one point, which is the point. Hopefully this book will guide people to share with their friends, family, co-workers that it isn't that simple, we cannot just tell an addict to simply stop. If it was that easy, there wouldn't be so many people living with addicitions.

If you have trouble viewing the Retreat Information in the previous post just double click on it and you'll get a larger version. If you still cannot see it then go to Monte Nido's website and you'll be able to find the information from Carolyn Costin.

Nourishing Training Opportunity for Care Providers

Care Providers: Nourish your mind this September in Hawaii while you add more skills for treating your clients with eating disorders. Carolyn Costin of Monte Nido is leading a Retreat for Professionals in the Eating Disorder & Body Image Field. See the attached flyer.

It will be a tough choice to attend this or the NEDA Conference here in Minneapolis, MN as these are at the same time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shame, Denial, Guilt and the media

So, as a parent of someone in eating disorder recovery how often are you feeling like you must have done something wrong in your parenting? How useful is that?

In interviewing a woman in eating disorder recovery for my book for families I learned some interesting lessons about parental Shame, Denial and Guilt. This woman works in the chemical dependency world as well as being in eating disorder recovery herself. She told me how surprised she was that a parent once told her how responsible she felt for giving her child the genes that may have contributed to the child's eating disorder. From the perspective of a chemical dependency professional she was shocked that this mom felt so much control over her child.

Is it control or is it love? A parent I know who has been through al-anon for her son's drug addiction told me that she learned this: Ask once, it's love. Ask twice, it's control. That's an eye opener for parents.

What if we as parents were to let go of feeling guilty or responsible for our children's eating disorders and let them do their recovery and just loved them? What would be available to us then?

This brings me to the media part of the title of today's post. What if we didn't do anything wrong and our kids got some twisted messages from the media that pulled the trigger of the gun that was loaded by their genes?

Take a look at the Dove campaign for real beauty video about the twisted messages the media is giving us:

Take a deep breath and let go of the Shame, Denial and Guilt and spend the energy loving yourself and your child/husband/friend/co-worker/son/daughter in recovery.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Families who love someone in recovery

My new tentative book title is: Just tell her to stop; Real Stories, hope and help while loving someone in eating disorder recovery

As I am interviewing people for my book, both family members and those who are themselves in recovery I am hearing from those in recovery how important the support and ongoing love from their family and friends has been. Those who are still in the thick of it and those who are years out and living lives free of ED's grasp (many refer to their eating disorder as ED) all tell me that knowing how much someone or somepeople loved them and cared about them helped them keep fighting.

So many family members tell me how frustrated they are that there is seemingly nothing that they can do to help their loved one in recovery to "get better". I hope it helps to know that by simply telling your loved one how much you care and that you believe in them that it makes a difference. I know it may seem like a small thing but when I hear people say that they didn't take their own life (which they were seriously contemplating due to the pain) because they knew it would be so painful for someone who loved them, then it is clear that simply loving someone and letting them know how important they are in your life makes a difference.

In the meanwhile, when you aren't busy telling your loved one in eating disorders recovery how much you care about them...there are other things you can do to take care of yourself. I feel like a broken record sometimes but it is so essential when you care about someone with an addiction that you "put on your oxygen mask first." Whether you care about a person with an eating disorder, alcoholism, drug addiction or another addiction it is imperative to take care of yourself. So, my big tip for the day is: go check out some al-anon meetings. I know it might sound a bit crazy to go to one of those and listen to people talk about their loved one who drinks when you have a child/husband/friend/etc. with an eating disorder. But what do you have to lose but some sleepless nights and a whole lot of worrying. I'm planting this seed now and it may take a while to germinate in you but when you are feeling frustrated and hopeless, pull this crazy idea out of the back of your head and get yourself to an al-anon meeting and see what shows up. It might just give you incredible freedom or peace or joy or the permission to think about something fun instead of: "Will so and so ever get better?" I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to comment.

Hearing Joe Kelly - Dads and Daughters speak during National Eating Disorders Awareness week was a highlight. Check out his website and blogs:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Eating Disorders Awareness Week Events

Are you looking for events to attend for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week?

TODAY - Thursday February 26th, 2009
At the St. Louis Park City Offices, MN
4pm - CST
Diann Ackerd, PhD, LP, FAED - A Licensed Psychologist in private practice, will be speaking on Prevention
Nancy Royce of the Search Institute will be speaking on Critical Thinking Skills

Friday, February 27th, 2009
Methodist Hospital, St. Louis Park, MN
HVC Room
6-8pm CST
Joe Kelly, Author and Parent, keynote speaker, Advocate for Girls
Becky Henry, Author and Parent - breakaway session - Perspectives on Reacting to your Childs Eating Disorders

Friday February 27th, 2009
Pace University
7pm EST

A quick reminder that the National Eating Disorders Association will be screening "Swept" as a part of their NEDAwareness Week on February 26th, 2009. The event will start at 7pm and will feature "Swept" and documentary entitled "Beauty Mark" which explores the descent and reemergence of a world class athlete from anorexia and exercise addiction. The screenings will be followed by a panel discussion lead by eating disorder expert Sondra Kronberg MS, RD, CDN. The event will be held at Pace University (1 Pace Plaza) in lower Manhattan (near City Hall).

If you are planning attend please RSVP to Attendees will need to clear security to enter the Pace Facility. NEDA will provide Pace with an RSVP guest list--which will facilitate faster entrance to the event. All guests are asked to bring a photo ID.

Thanks again,

Stephanie Schweitzer
(917) 847-6675

Again, if you are looking for more events go to:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week – 2009

I’m back to the frozen tundra we like to call Minnesota after a week sojourn to warmer climes. Good for the soul and the frozen fingers to take some time to simply BE. As I am always telling my coaching clients, “You cannot pour from an empty cup. Fill yourself up.” I’m always reminded when I fly and those flight attendants tell us to “put your oxygen mask on first.” We must do that with ourselves always but especially when we have a loved one who is recovering from an eating disorder.

I’m so excited that it is once again NEDAW – National Eating Disorders Awareness Week! Each year this event raises more awareness and funding for life-saving programs that help people in their recovery.

There are numerous events taking place both Nationally and here in the Twin Cities. A simple google search “NEDA events” with your town or city will help you find some near you. I’ll be doing a family breakout session on perspectives for the family member at Methodist Hospital this Friday February 27th from 6-8pm. I’ll post more information prior to the event.

A special event should you be near NYC this week:

A quick reminder that the National Eating Disorders Association will be screening "Swept" as a part of their NEDAwareness Week on February 26th, 2009. The event will start at 7pm and will feature "Swept" and documentary entitled "Beauty Mark" which explores the descent and reemergence of a world class athlete from anorexia and exercise addiction. The screenings will be followed by a panel discussion lead by eating disorder expert Sondra Kronberg MS, RD, CDN. The event will be held at Pace University (1 Pace Plaza) in lower Manhattan (near City Hall).

If you are planning attend please RSVP to Attendees will need to clear security to enter the Pace Facility. NEDA will provide Pace with an RSVP guest list--which will facilitate faster entrance to the event. All guests are asked to bring a photo ID.
Thanks again,

Watch for more events and more NEDAW information this week!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Help for Families living with an Eating Disorder

If you are living with or care about someone who has an eating disorder, chances are you are worried about them. As a coach who helps the "Invisible People" affected by eating disorders, meaning the family, friends and co-workers I hear a lot of stories about the pain and stress that comes with not being able to help them. I'm always advocating for those of you to take care of yourselves so you can be the best support person.

Here is a workshop that might assist with re-energizing and de-stressing.

Saturday February 28th - 9:30- noon
Great River Healing Arts Center
2388 University Ave West
St. Paul, MN

Led by Cindy Schultz, MA, LP
Stephanie Ross, MA
Cindy Schultz

If you cannot attend but want more ideas for your own self care while your loved one is in recovery contact me.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Happy Valentines Month!

The month of LOVE. What a lot of people aren't realizing is that we need to first love ourselves and then loving others and accepting the love of others becomes much easier. I have noticed that a lot of people with eating disorders are very challenged in loving themselves. It's as if the eating disorder is this cruel best friend who says: you don't deserve love from anyone, not even from yourself! Yikes! How sad is that?

One trick to try and override this evil best friend can be to ask some people around you to give you some comments on what they think about you and even to ask: Please tell me how you love me because I'm not feeling very loveable right now. Then, and this is the trickiest part, ALLOW yourself to take in those loving comments. Even if you have to act "as if" you believe them. The people who are saying those wonderful things about you really mean them, it's just that the little evil friend doesn't want you to hear them because that will take away it's power.

Another trick in taking away some of that nasty eating disorder's power is to write a list of 10-30 things about yourself that are positive (get assistance if you need to) and then go look into a mirror and say all of those things to yourself. Yes, I'm serious. Daily even. Most people spend their days making negative comments to themselves, (noticing these is also a very effective tool) and if we can counter all the negative comments with the positive we will eventually start to feel better about ourselves.

During this month of love, even if you don't have a special someone, try loving yourself! Especially when you see all the crazy advertisements this time of the year for the New Years Resolution diets. Remember, diets don't work. Diets can contribute to eating disorders. So when you see those ads, remember to tell yourself you deserve better, you are an amazing person who deserves love.

Let me know if you try the exercises and if you find them helpful. Simple as they sound they could save your life. Eating disorders are the most deadly of all mental illnesses and need to be taken seriously. Loving yourself can be one tool in your belt to help fight it.

To love and life!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Eating Disorders Family Stories

Here is my bio from my book page on my website: If you would like to share your story ANONYMOUSLY with me to help other families let me know.

Becky Henry, CPCC is a Coach, Author, Workshop Leader and Speaker. She is currently working on a book for families living with the crisis of an eating disorder to help release them from fear and panic and reclaim peace and calm. Becky is passionate about empowering families with tools to reclaim their finances, relationships, careers and lives that have been seriously impacted by an eating disorder.

Temporary Title: Navigating the rough waters of an ED; A Guide from Fear and Panic to Peace and Hope

Currently Becky is welcoming stories for the book to highlight key points. If you know anyone who has lived with the crisis of an eating disorder and may want to anonymously share their story please have them contact Becky Henry at: 952-451-5663 or at

Key Points that the stories will highlight:

(Both the successes and the non-successes) around these points:

  1. Effect of ED on stress level and layers such as memory
  2. Keeping track of notes from care providers.
  3. Secondary losses that ED took away from your family
  4. How did you care for yourself?
  5. What were your skills in letting the ED be your loved one’s problem?
  6. Effects on partnership/marriages
  7. Role of friends
  8. Role of extended family
  9. Productive and unproductive coping mechanisms
  10. Asking for help
  11. Finding competent care providers
  12. What kept you going?
  13. Insurance stories - the good, bad and the ugly
  14. What was your lowest point?
  15. Silver linings that came of your journey with an eating disorder

Interviews with Becky will be recorded on, names will be changed as there is still so much stigma with these illnesses and the stories are so personal. Each person will need to sign a release.

This is your chance to have some of the challenges you have lived through make a difference in the life of another family faced with a similar situation. Also, if you know of media outlet connections and would like to support this book by connecting me with them that is most appreciated too. Together we can make a difference for all of us who are living with these devastating disorders in our families. When the days get rough as you face the sadness of having a loved one living with an eating disorder, remember: EXTREME SELF CARE! It's essential for those who are not only caregivers but for all who care about people who have an eating disorder.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year's and eating disorders

Having survived (if you are reading this) the holiday season, first congratulate yourself! You made it. Brutal is the word that comes to my mind when I think of the holiday season and eating disorders. However it went, you did come out the other side and that is a major accomplishment. If you suffer from an eating disorder or you have someone you care about who has one, it is a major feat to survive or even thrive through the season.

I received a great newsletter today from Byron Katie about releasing suffering. Very inspirational for me and I hope it will be for you. Take a look at Byron Katie’s link: to learn more about “the Work” she does. I wasn’t able to attend her fabulous sounding retreat but I did find that I was able to use her suggestions to release the hold I was allowing suffering to have on me.

Choice in how we react, we do have power over how we choose to react and what we choose to think about. Byron Katie’s work has helped me choose to let go of suffering. That is what coaching is about too, choosing what you want in your life. If you are looking for more of that call me or email me about one-on-one coaching. Together we can help you to let go of fear and panic and choose peace and joy!

Happy New Year!