To the Bone: A Blog to the Lovers and the Haters...and Everyone in Between

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Monday, June 26, 2017

 


Back in the mid-1980’s I stumbled upon a Hallmark or Lifetime movie about bulimia. The show demonstrated in detail, a lot of which I can still remember, how the young, pretty, skinny white actress engaged in her symptoms. I remember staring at the screen, mesmerized. The show didn’t make me want to copy the girl’s behavior. Gratefully I never went on to develop bulimia. But in the ensuing years, eating disorder specialists began doing research on the harms of these kinds of movies as well as the unintentional harm caused in health class lectures which intended to provide education but ended up planting ideas in young minds.
So I felt a large pit in my stomach when I saw the trailer to the new Netflix movie about one girl’s struggle with anorexia. I posted my feelings about it in a quick rant on my FB page Saturday night and was shocked to see that in 24 hours it had been shared nearly 150 times, far more than anything I had written before. The comments I received on this post are why I’m writing this blog in response. The first dozen or so comments are from sufferers of eating disorders. Many of those who commented later are from those defending the film. I’d like to share with you some of the comments I received from those who suffer from an eating disorder. And provide a response to some of the arguments defending the movie.

 

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"It's exactly the sort of thing I was drawn to when I was really, really sick - all those horrible Lifetime movies and ED books that give tips and tricks to the vulnerable. Not good."
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"As someone recovering from anorexia, it's absolutely miserable to see this stuff and my eating disorder voice becomes about 20 times louder (thus making it 20 times harder to eat).
It has stirred up so much in my already murky mind. Two minutes of this movie and I can barely hear myself think."
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"This movie is irresponsible, at best. It's perpetuating stereotypes that make seeking and accepting treatment much more difficult. Time for a Netflix hiatus."
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"I am very passionate about my recovery-- and what it took to get to where I am today. Here. I am proud of my 10 years of hard work. I am not easily triggered. In fact, I can't remember the last time I felt truly triggered. EDs voice isn't as strong as mine these days. You can imagine my surprise when I watched this trailer and felt that pit in my stomach and that voice a little louder than it has been in the past 10 years. My biggest fear is that someone who is in delicate stages of recovery will see this and feel the same. I am so disappointed that this movie has been made."
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"Ever since I saw the trailer, I've struggled more. I think what bugs me the most is knowing that the actress has had ED herself. Yet, they made her lose weight for the role. Some articles say she had to "relive anorexia." I keep reading she lost weight in a healthy way and had a dietician, but her weight is anything but healthy. What kinda of dietician allows that? It's triggered me into thinking that if she can be that size and it's healthy, then...why can't I? Also, if you look at her social media pages, young girls are asking her how she stays so small and saying they want to be like her."
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For some people, it IS “just” a movie that will spark some dialog. That’s fact. But I implore you to consider that this very film about anorexia has already and will continue to harm SOME people. Ironically, the people it will harm will be some of those who are vulnerable to develop or already suffer from an eating disorder. That to me, breaks my heart.

 

My response to those who provide arguments FOR the movie:
#1 “This movie shows real issues. We shouldn’t ignore real issues that affect people.”
I agree on all counts. And the cool thing is that there are so many ways to talk about the reality of eating disorders while reducing harm by the way we do it. There are large organizations who do this well and whose missions I support. I’ll provide resources at the bottom.
Rape is also a very real issue. But most of us wouldn’t defend the viewing of rape scenes in a movie as a great teaching tool to spread awareness. Nor would we show it to our children to generate discussion.
Based on the trailer I’m deeply worried about the film. But I don’t think our only two options are films like this one or nothing at all.
#2 “This movie spreads awareness.”
I also agree. It’s stirred so much controversy and people are definitely talking, including me! But I believe in human creativity and ingenuity. Movies like this have been made since the 1980’s. Have we not improved in over 3 decades?? We have the capacity to do better! While I don’t have the creative skill, I have no doubt that an incredible movie about eating disorders can and hopefully will one day be made. A movie that raises awareness, sparks conversation, hopefully raises money, and doesn’t harm the vulnerable. I feel like the film "Embrace" is a perfect example. It tackles the tough and very real topic of negative body image while doing so in a mostly inspiring way. 
#3 “We should give people freedom to make films about eating disorders and we should not suggest censorship.”
I also agree. People will continue to make all kinds of films and I am going to continue working with my clients and with my social media platforms to help my clients become conscious and thoughtful consumers of media. I do this literally all day from my office. To be clear, the petition is to ask filmmakers to have a content review by professionals.
#4 “It’s a movie and not meant to cause harm. It’s demonstrating real life.”
I can’t speak to the intention of the movie. For certain, this movie will not be at all harmful for some. I’m confident that viewing it wouldn’t harm me. But it will harm the vulnerable. And the vulnerable are whom I’m interested in. They are the reason I wrote my FB post. They are the reason for this blog. I have sat with countless clients who have told me, “I got the idea for my bulimia by watching that Lifetime movie. Had I only known that I’d still be suffering 20 years later…I wish I never saw that film.” So yes, YES, I want to yell out “let’s find another way to raise awareness and have conversation.”
 
My entire career is dedicated to the treatment of people suffering from eating disorders. To you I say:
1. If watching this trailer has triggered you, make a commitment to not watch it. If you feel up to it, share your experience as to why you feel it’s harmful. You have a voice. Use it!
2. There are so many ways to suffer with an eating disorder. If your eating disorder doesn’t look like what is shown in this film, your struggle is still real and valid. You deserve support. And you deserve treatment.
3. There is no healthy way to do what Lily Collins did for this film. I don’t know who the nutritionist was for the film. And the idea that what she did for the film could be accomplished “healthfully” is as far from any truth I can imagine. It is literally NOT A THING. Erase that from your minds. To think of the young people asking Lily for advice on how she did it and how they can be small like her is breaking my ever-loving heart.
I’d love to see greater awareness for eating disorders. But we can do better. We can do so much better.

 

Reporting and Portrayal of Eating Disorders by Mindframe (scroll down to "Other Media Resources"

 

Build Enduring Strategies with the Intuitive Eating Group Program

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Tuesday, May 23, 2017

We're so excited to announce our new Intuitive Eating Group Program

Do You Want to Improve Your Relationship with Food?

Looking for Guidance on How to Honor Your Nutritional Needs?

Struggling with Recovery From an Eating Disorder?

Marci RD Nutrition has a 5-week Intuitive Eating Group Program that will Transform You and Your Life!  We will help you navigate the complex journey of learning to listen to your body’s needs while in a supportive group environment! 

This program, led by Eating Disorder and Intuitive Eating expert, Sarah Patten, will help you:

  • Discover how to listen and reconnect with your body's hunger and fullness cues
  • Learn to trust yourself to make decisions around what or how much to eat
  • Take back your power around food
  • Reconnect to your body's innate wisdom to determine the right amount of food for you
  • Develop self-trust around eating challenging or “forbidden” foods
  • Practice being more mindful at meal times in a safe and supportive environment
Why Join our Group Program? 
  • Exposure to challenging meals in a supportive environment fosters greater self-trust while decreasing fear and anxiety over time.
  • Avoidance of particular foods or eating in a social setting is a big risk factor for relapse and can hold one back from making peace with food once and for all.
We will help you become more confident in your ability to feed yourself in an adequate, varied, and enjoyable way. 

 

intuitive eating support group

Who Should Consider Participating?  

  • People looking to heal their relationship with food and develop lifelong skills around eating and body trust. Participants must be appropriate for an outpatient level of care and must be working with an individual therapist and dietitian.
  • An initial 15-minute phone screening is required to determine appropriateness of fit for the group and to allow for Sarah to understand each individual's goals and challenges prior to joining.
Groups will be led by Sarah Patten, a registered dietitian, eating disorder expert, Intuitive Eating specialist, and registered yoga teacher.  To register for the program, contact Sarah via email or by telephone: 

617-945-2404


 

What Does the Program Include?
 
Five (5) weeks of meal support led by a Registered Dietitian and Intuitive Eating specialist that includes the following:
  • Inclusion in a small group – limited to 6 participants
  • Personalized goal setting
  • Orientation to the keys of effective exposures
  • Mindfulness based eating exercises
  • Dining together as a group
  • Guided meditation experiences
  • Post-meal processing
  • Handouts and resources
  • Access to a Registered Dietitian who leads you in this program
When Will the Group Be Held?
 
Dates:
June 13th, 20th, 27th, July 11th and July 18th
 
Time:
7:00 pm-8:15 pm
 
Location:
Marci RD Nutrition Counseling Office
22 Hilliard St., Cambridge, MA 02138
1st floor, door on the right
 
Your Investment in the Program:
$225.00 for the 5-week program - Registering for the full series is required.
 
Registration Information
  • Group size is limited to 6 participants.
  • To reserve your seat in the program, contact Sarah. Your seat in the program will be officially reserved once payment is received in full.
 
We look forward to have you join us for the 5-week Intuitive Eating Group Program!

Your Values – Your Key to Contentment

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Friday, May 19, 2017

I’m a registered dietitian by training but so many of my clients tell me “You’re more than my nutritionist Marci, you’re like my life coach!

I take that feedback seriously!! My clients trust me to join with them on their life journeys and that is a privilege.

There are a couple of reasons my clients think of me as “more than a nutritionist:”

  1. I like to hear about every facet of their life so I can understand how food and body image issues fit into the larger picture. My office is a not a one stop shop for a meal plan.
  2. I look for the meaning and symbolism in their food and body issues. That teaches me all about what struggles lurk beneath the symptoms and helps us discover genuine solutions. Attempts to fix oneself through food and body projects can never resolve the deeper pain that lies at the root.
  3. I work with my clients to help them to connect to their core values. I believe that living out of alignment of your core values is a key source of pain and suffering. And living a life that lines up with your core values, even when crappy things happen, brings contentment and peace. In fact, I talked about this in my interview with Fiona Sutherland on her podcast “The Mindful Dietitian.” In that episode, I share a lot about my own relationship to mindfulness, how I went from skeptic to believer, how mindfulness has helped me in my personal and professional lives, and how it relates to self-compassion.

Another key to component I discussed in that episode is the importance of completing a values-based inventory. And today, I’d like to invite you complete one! It may feel a little challenging but I can promise you, it’s totally worth getting to know yourself better.

Step 1: Review a list of values. Below is an example but you can also google “list of values*” to find one that you like!

Step 2: Choose your top 10 values and write them down.

Step 3: Narrow the list to your top 5 values.

Step 4: I know this is painful, but narrow it down again to your top 3 values.

Now that you have your top 3 values I’d like to invite you to ask yourself “when it comes to my relationships (including food, body, exercise, friendships, work, money) where am I in alignment? And where am I out of alignment?”

And if you are feeling brave, head on over to facebook.com/marciRD and share one of your top values and one specific way you’d like to live more in alignment with that core value.

Since we’re all in this together, I’ll go first. Click over to Facebook for the conversation. Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

*Source: https://personalmasterycoaching.wordpress.com/2015/04/19/values/


 

Motherless on Mother’s Day

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Saturday, May 13, 2017

For some, Mother’s Day is a joyful time. For other’s, it can be quite painful. For those of you who fall into the latter category, this blog post is for you. With honesty and bravery, one of my client’s shares her story as well as 6 tips for getting through the weekend. I know you’ll enjoy this one as much as I did. Big thank you to the author for allowing me to share this on my site.

Question: What are ways that you take care of yourself during difficult times?

Here’s the blog. Enjoy.

 On the Friday that I was officially diagnosed with an eating disorder, my mother had her first seizure. That weekend she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the following Monday she had brain surgery, and that night we were told that her cancer was terminal.

As my mother’s illness progressed, so did mine. As she grew sicker, I grew more symptomatic; my eating disorder became a protective factor against my mother’s illness. If I was focused on destroying myself, I was less vulnerable to the feelings evoked by watching the cancer destroy my mother and my best friend. I was wracked with guilt for “making” myself sick when my mother was fighting a real illness; years later, I have come to a less black and white way of thinking about this. I wasn’t making myself sick; I had an illness that I couldn’t control and that I didn’t choose. In a lot of ways, my illness served a purpose; to numb feelings, to distract from my mother’s pain, to battle feelings of guilt and shame, and to quiet the voice in my mind telling me that I was not enough. In some ways, I felt that I should be the one to die and not my mom.

This summer, it will be fifteen years since my mother’s death. The pain has changed but it has not gone away. The pain of losing one’s mother never does. There are times that it comes upon me in waves; holidays, the anniversary of her death, the birth of my own son, other instances of grief and loss, and, of course, Mother’s Day.

Scrolling though my Facebook feed over the past couple of days, I have seen many, many posts on Mother’s Day. NEDA has had a few of their own, asking how people’s mothers have been helpful in their recovery. These posts always cause a pang inside of me. Thoughts of “I wish I had a mother”, “I wish my mother had been there to help me through recovery”, and “It’s not fair that my mother is gone” spiral through my mind. I know there must be others out there dealing with the pain and loss that is triggered on this special day, and I wanted to post some ways that I have used in the past and will use this year in order to cope while motherless on Mother’s Day.

  1. Step Away from Social Media
    This year, on Mother’s Day, I will delete my Facebook and Instagram apps from my phone and will not log in through the Internet. For me, this is a self-care decision. My feed is bound to be full of pictures of people with their mothers, of tributes to amazing moms, and of people feeling blessed and lucky to have their mothers in their lives. I honestly don’t begrudge people who are lucky enough to have their mothers with them, and I think it’s beautiful that there are tributes on social media. However, I do not need to see them on a day that is already quite painful. It only serves to bring to light my own issues of grief and loss.

  2. Do Something to Honor Your Mom
    This will look different for everyone. For me, it’s often been taking day trips to places my mother loved. It has also been looking through the photo album I put together after she died, writing her a letter, and visiting her grave. Perhaps you could do something that the two of you liked to do together; shopping, visiting a garden, taking a walk, or going to a coffee shop. The important thing is that you are honoring her memory by doing something that she loved, and taking care of yourself by cherishing the happy moments you had with your mom.

  3. Nourish Yourself
    It might be tempting to restrict on Mother’s Day. It always is for me. Sometimes, the emotions dampen my appetite; other times, I want to restrict to numb those very emotions. It is important to follow your meal plan or to eat intuitively on Mother’s Day in order to heal both your body and your mind. Even though it might feel right in the moment, restricting or otherwise engaging in eating disordered behavior will only make you feel worse in the long run. Take care of yourself the way your mother would have taken care of you. Pretend you are a child dealing with something difficult; you would want to nourish that child with food that will give them the physical and emotional energy to get through a difficult day.

  4. Have Self-Compassion
    For me, reading authors such as Pema Chodon, Tara Brach, and Kristen Neff has been very healing and helpful in developing self-love and compassion. I am currently reading Kristen Neff’s “Self Compassion” and would recommend it to everyone struggling with an eating disorder, depression, or anxiety, as well as anyone who experiences negative self-talk. Neff recommends that in moments of suffering, one can repeat a mantra: “This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is a part of life. May I show myself kindness in this moment? I am deserving of self-compassion.” Sometimes, when I feel sad, I turn that sadness into other emotions; guilt, self-hate, anger, insecurity. This Mother’s Day, I plan to talk to myself as I would a young child who I care about very much. “Honey, you’re feeling sad. It’s okay to feel sad. You have a sad situation; your mother passed away, and it’s a day to celebrate mothers, and you feel lost and alone. However, you are not alone. There are people around you who love and care about you very much. It’s okay to feel sad. This is sad.”

  5. Reach Out
    I am lucky enough to have an amazing treatment team who provided extra support this week, through appointments, notes in my journal, voicemail messages, and even an extra appointment on Mother’s Day. I know that this is not possible in every situation, but it doesn’t hurt to ask for support in whatever form you find most helpful. You can also reach out to trusted family or friends. Ask for what you need.

  6. Celebrate Yourself
    If you are a mom yourself, remember that this is your day, too! It is not only a day of remembrance and perhaps grief, but also a day of celebration for all you do as a mom. I am a single mom of a young child, so it really is up to me to plan my own celebration! This year, my son and I will be going out to lunch and picking out a bouquet of flowers to brighten up my bedroom. I also hired a babysitter so I could take a few hours to myself, to get a pedicure or go to the bookstore to read. Find something you love to do and go out and do it! Today is not just about your loss; it’s also about celebrating all you have done to be a great mom to your children.

Mother’s Day can be a hard day for many, especially those who have lost a mother. It is important that, on this day, we do our very best to take care of ourselves. Treat yourself like you would your five year-old self; with nurturance, compassion, and love.

Dietitians: Are you Ready for the EDRDpro Symposium?

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Yes, the EDRDpro Symposium is the only international, web-based eating disorder conference for nutritionists, therapists, and students.

Have you ever had the chance to participate in something that makes you giddy with excitement?? That’s exactly how I feel about the upcoming #EDRDpro Symposium - a 4 day online symposium with 15 eating disorder experts. How lucky am I to be included??

Whether you are a dietitian or not, I invite you to seriously consider registering for this event. There is an amazing lineup of experts on the topics of eating disorders and body image for this incredible 4-day event. The range of topics is multi-faceted and timely: building your brand, working with athletes, mastering the media, how to move away from a weight-centric treatment focus, exercise in recovery, raising healthy eaters, and so much more!

Many of you have asked for more information on my most recent venture - the complicated mix of digestive disorders and eating disorders. At the #EDRDpro Symposium I will be speaking on “The Gut Microbiome, Digestive Health, and the Eating Disorder Client.” I’ll be providing attendees with “my Top 10 Tips for Supporting Digestive Well-Being” in a user-friendly handout, along with an in-depth presentation which covers the most up to date research. I can’t wait to share it with you!

edrdpro symposiumYou may be wondering how I developed such a passion for speaking on digestive well-being, specifically for the eating disorder client. I can sum it up in a few bullet points:

  • Childhood gastrointestinal (GI) issues are among the top 10 risk factors for the development of an eating disorder
  • Up to 98% of clients with an eating disorder also struggle with some sort of GI issue. I care because it’s affecting so many people and very few know how to deal with both issues simultaneously.
  • Ongoing GI issues takes a toll on emotional well-being, body image, and the length of time it takes to recover from an eating disorder

The amazing thing is that there are so many solutions to improving gut health AND eating disorder recovery. And I want more people to know about it.

Here are more of the details on this event:

Early-Bird Registration is March 20th-27th and the cost is $299

Prices increase to $399 after March 27th (which is still a steal in my book!)

With registration you get:

  • 15 webinars available to you to watch at your own pace
  • 15 hours of CPE credits
  • Bonus videos and tips
  • Resources and tools to use in your practice
  • Expert insight
  • Private Facebook group just for participants to ask questions, build communities, and interact with the expert contributors during the symposium.

I hope to see you there! Remember to register early