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We suffer when we believe we are bodies first and people second – watch this awesome TED Talk by Dr. Lindsay Kite

body image and eating disorders ted talk with dr. lindsay kite of beauty redefined

Our children who have eating disorders need to separate their souls from their bodies. This is extremely difficult, because they are surrounded by loud messages stating that their bodies drive who they are as people. We must educate our children about the media agenda that objectifies our bodies and turns them into the single most important aspect of our selves. We must fight back. This TED Talk is an excellent place to start.

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Girls and women aren’t only suffering because of the unattainable ways beauty is being defined, they’re suffering because they are being *defined by beauty.* They are bodies first and people second.

So, rather than working to sure more women’s bodies are viewed as valuable, we are working to make sure women are valued as more than bodies to view. Our work is founded on the premise that positive body image isn’t believing your body looks good; it is believing your body is good, regardless of how it looks. 

We have to learn to see more in ourselves and everyone else. Once we see more, we can be more. More than objects. More than beautiful. More than a body.

– Dr. Lindsay Kite, Co-Director of Beauty Redefined


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Beauty Redefined is a nonprofit organization run by Lexie Kite, Ph.D. and Lindsay Kite, Ph.D. It is dedicated to promoting positive body image. Beauty Redefined changes the conversation about body image by telling girls and women they are MORE than beautiful. The Beauty Redefined mantra is: “Women are more than just bodies. See more. Be more.” Website

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Eating Disorders Awareness Week: Support Project Heal’s Mission to Finance Treatment for Individuals with Eating Disorders

Project HEAL provides treatment grants, support, and a community of peers who show that full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. It is the largest 501(c)(3) nonprofit in the U.S. that raises funds for eating disorder treatment, promotes healthy body image and self-esteem, and inspires sufferers that full recovery from an eating disorder is possible.

The organization is currently running a fundraising campaign. Please participate if you can!

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cofounders-200x300“Recovery is possible. When people who suffer from an eating disorder are able to receive comprehensive treatment, they CAN regain a healthy relationship with food and live full and happy lives. Project HEAL knows this is true through the first- hand experience of its founders, supporters and volunteers, as well as through the testimonials and success stories of the organization’s grant recipients.” – Founders of Project HEAL, Liana & Kristina

 

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Spearheaded by the National Eating Disorders Association, the goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness (#NEDAwareness) Week is to shine the spotlight on eating disorders and put life-saving resources into the hands of those in need.

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Teens and Mental Health – an interview with Nadia Ghaffari, age 16, founder of TeenzTalk.org

Nadia Ghaffari is a junior in high school. Last year she founded TeenzTalk.org, a global initiative providing a platform for teens to discuss mental health. We interviewed Nadia for her perspective on teens’ mental health.

I go to Los Altos High School – it’s a few miles away from Palo Alto. Last year, we read about the suicide clusters happening at our neighborhood school; I felt like it was such a big issue and didn’t really see anyone doing anything about it to directly reach the teens. Obviously there are wonderful mental health organizations out there working to make positive change, but I didn’t feel they were actually benefitting the teen population (as I was still a direct witness to my many of my peers’ stress, anxiety, and depression). So, I thought what better than to get our entire generation involved? I wanted to create something that was just for teens and harness that powerful relationship we can have with each other.

It’s been so amazing. It started out very local. I interviewed individuals at my high school, and since then we have expanded worldwide. It was just amazing, because I ask all teens the same questions – what stresses you out, how do you relieve stress, what are you passionate about, how have you grown from facing difficulty or facing challenges, what does happiness look like in your life, etc. – and it’s amazing how powerful their responses are, especially coming from such diverse backgrounds. Our organization’s core material is video responses from teens, for teens. We have a team of teen ambassadors from around the world who are working closely on this initiative and creating positive change, starting in their own communities.

Numerous studies show that teenagers are much more comfortable talking to their friends and peers rather than counselors, parents, or teachers. There is such a real generation gap, and it feels as if adults don’t fully understand what we (as teens) are going through. We are most comfortable discussing this with people our own age, who may also be experiencing similar situations.

nadiaCurrently in the teen world, I think “stress” is a normalized word for anxiety or depression and other mental health related issues. For a teen, saying that you have anxiety or depression is scary (and also stigmatized), but it’s normal to say, “I’m so stressed.” So, we focus on “stress relief” and “well-being strategies” because that’s normalized, and we’re comfortable using the words “stress” and “well-being”. At the same time, these topics and words strongly correlate to other mental health themes; in this way, we begin to shine the light on these issues and open the discussion.

I think one of the things teens feel most stressed about is academic pressure and the idea of becoming “successful.” It may feel like that’s a Silicon-Valley-specific issue, but it’s not (it’s a global matter). I’ve spoken to teens all over the world, and these teens all have the same feelings of stress and pressure to perform well in their lives.

A lot of teens feel as if they are competing with their peers to be the most “successful”. It’s unhealthy, and I think it’s getting worse as colleges get more selective and more people are in this race. It’s important to realize that we are a community here to support each other. Together, we can help each other reach new heights. We can share our stories, inspire each other to chase our unique ambitions, and embrace the valuable growth that stems from facing difficulty. As the TeenzTalk motto says, “Together we inspire growth.”

We’re currently in the process of becoming an official nonprofit. That will hopefully be set by January 2017. Once that happens, we look forward to hosting events and collaborating or co-hosting with our corporate partners to continue spreading our mission and bringing new perspectives to teens everywhere.


screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-10-00-10-pmNadia is a junior in high school and a passionate mental health advocate. She is the founder of the global teen initiative, TeenzTalk.org. The TeenzTalk organization is dedicated to “creating a platform for all teens to come together in a positive environment.” She is also an active teen committee member at CHC (Children’s Health Council) in Palo Alto, where she collaborates with community teens to reduce mental health stigmas and create positive changes at local schools regarding student well-being.


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TeenzTalk.org is a platform for all teens to come together in a positive environment. Let’s create a global teen community where we share our experiences, inspire each other to chase our unique ambitions, & embrace the valuable growth that stems from facing difficulty. We focus on teen mental health & harnessing peer connections as a source of strength. Website

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What to say when your teenager is angry (consider the “Anger Iceberg”)

Living with a teenager can feel like you’re constantly waiting for a bomb to explode. Their anger may last hours, days or even months. Though you are a parent, and you love your kid, you are also a human being who is wired with mirror neurons. This means that living in the face of anger can really drag you down because you will mirror the anger right back unless you learn to manage it with compassion.

When your teenager is angry, you might be tempted to say things like:

  • There’s no need to be angry, Sweetie. It will all be OK.
  • Why are you so angry all the time? It’s really upsetting!
  • Your anger is contagious! You’re making us all crazy!

It’s OK if you have said these things in the past – you’re human. But it’s also likely that you have noticed that such statements are not very effective at getting your teenager to change angry behavior. It’s not as if when you say these things your teenager turns around and says “You know what, Mom, you’re right! I’m going to stop being angry right now.”

Instead, there’s a good chance that your teenager gets even angrier, and responds either by turning their anger on you or walking out of the room, avoiding any further contact. Either action fosters separation, not connection.

When you have a child with an eating disorder like anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, anger management is an important part of healing, but not in the way you might think. It’s not that you want the anger to go away. You never want to suggest that your child should not FEEL anger. Instead, you want to help your child feel the anger in a more productive way. A lot of times this means understanding that anger is a common mask used to hide truer, deeper feelings that are very uncomfortable to feel.

Here’s a great graphic created by The Gottman Institute regarding the real feelings that may be lurking below anger:

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By taking a look at this “Anger Iceberg,” you might recognize some of the deep feelings that your teenager is attempting to mask with anger – and with his or her eating disorder. Many people with eating disorders attempt to protect themselves from feelings like hurt, envy, insecurity, and loneliness.

So, when you want to talk to your child about his or her anger, don’t try to take the anger away. Instead, observe your teen carefully and identify some of the feelings the anger is masking.

Here’s What To Say

If your teen is in the midst of an angry explosion, set boundaries about how that anger is expressed (i.e. no physical violence, hitting walls, slamming things, or throwing things), but don’t try to stop the feeling itself. You can handle it. It will pass.

When the explosion has passed (it always does), regroup with your child and honor and accept the anger.

  • I understand that you got really angry earlier, and I want you to know that I heard how upset you were. It’s so frustrating when <say something about the situation that sparked the anger>. I feel angry about stuff like that, too.

Important: Do not say that the anger hurts you. Remember that the anger was just a mask for deeper feelings, and feelings deserve to be felt. You are responsible for helping your child learn to process feelings in a safe, healthy way.

Next, take things a bit deeper. For example:

  • I noticed that this happened shortly after you got your Algebra test back. Do you want to talk about how you felt when you got your score?
  • I get the feeling that the anger you felt might have something to do with the fact that Jenny and Kim have been leaving you out of things – is that true?
  • Tomorrow is the big recital. Sometimes when we act like we are angry, we are actually feeling nervous, or something else uncomfortable. Is it possible that you’re feeling anxious about the recital?

This attempt to discuss deeper feelings may or may not result in a discussion. Many teenagers, especially boys, are not going to open up to you about this. And many girls will turn your attempt to talk into a whole new fight. Both of these are attempts to NOT FEEL their true feelings.

But it’s OK if those things happen. The point is not for you to have a great conversation. The point is for you to say that there is a potential for an Anger Iceberg, and that you are willing and able to accept all of their feelings – whatever they are.

This is not a one-time conversation. This is a conversation that you can have many times with your child to gradually teach him or her how to start looking more deeply at their feelings – both expressed and unexpressed – and to help them see that feelings are not to be feared.


Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating disorders and body hate.

She’s the founder of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents who have kids with eating disorders and other struggles.


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The Gottman Institute offers information and services for families, with the mission to help create and maintain greater love and health in relationships. Their work includes research, coaching and products in support of this goal.

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What I Want Parents to Know About Eating Disorders – by Colleen Reichmann, Psy.D

We interviewed Colleen Reichmann, Psy.D. She provided us with some excellent information for parents regarding eating disorder prevention, treatment and recovery.

Below are her comments:

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Parents Have Power

We are in luck, because parents can have a great deal of power in the prevention of eating disorders!

It is critical to begin to provide education early – prior to adolescence. Begin to talk to your child about the importance of a healthy body image before all the changes of puberty begin. Stress the importance of function over appearance.

Our bodies are our homes! They are the vehicles to move us around our journey in life. Stress the point that they are not meant to be perfect.

Educate your kids about diet culture, and about the differences between real life, and what the media is portraying in terms of how bodies should look.

Lastly, be a good role model. Don’t criticize your own appearance in front of your kids. Don’t comment on other people’s appearance. Eat with your children. Don’t diet. Provide them with a foundation to have a strong and healthy relationship with food throughout their whole lives.

If Your Child Has a Friend With an Eating Disorder

Parents should encourage their children to reach out if they believe one of their friends has an eating disorder.

Talk to your children about the importance of asking for help from an adult, instead of trying to help this friend on your own.

Discuss how eating disorders are complicated and serious, and stress the importance of talking to their friend’s parent, teacher, or another adult support if they believe this friend is struggling. If this has already happened, and the friend has support from professionals and adults, talk to your child about how words matter very much to this friend right now.

Stress the importance of not focusing on weight, calories, or food when hanging out with this friend. Also encourage your child not to comment on any changes in their friend’s physical appearance.

Schools as a Partner in Eating Disorder Treatment

Schools would be wise to begin to incorporate eating disorder education and awareness into their education curriculum as early as elementary school.

Elementary schoolers often learn about MyPlate nutrition, and healthy food versus “junk food” in health classes, so it makes sense that eating disorders and body image education should be provided as part of the standard curriculum as well.

My belief is this would provide kids with a more balanced education and overall view of health in general.

Schools should also begin to provide yearly eating disorder screening days. This could be helpful for early identification and intervention for children that may have flown under the radar otherwise.

Finally, it would be helpful if school counselors and school psychologists had more training on how to support children recovering from eating disorders during mealtimes. Often times these are the individuals expected to support children who are coming back to school after treatment, and these skills are often not intuitive. Hence extra training would be beneficial.

The Healthcare System and Eating Disorders

We have mounting evidence to support the fact that eating disorders can be treated successfully, however many insurance companies refuse to cover the cost for treatment until individuals are extremely ill. This is counterintuitive. Why wait to treat this life-threatening illness when we know that the longer that it progresses, the more difficult and stubborn it can be to treat?

Even when health care costs are covered in part, the reimbursement to families is often inadequate. Additionally, insurance companies often pull coverage as soon as patients hit “minimum safe weights” or as soon as their blood work begins to look normal.

This is confusing to patients, and frustrating to clinicians, as eating disorders contain both physical and psychological symptoms. The healthcare system, and managed care in particular, needs to begin to acknowledge this fact, and get onboard with the idea that providing treatment before and after critical conditions makes more sense for long-term recovery.


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Colleen Reichmann, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of individuals with eating disorders and body image issues. She has worked at various inpatient eating disorder treatment facilities, and is the blog manager for Project HEAL. She lives in Virginia Beach with her husband and golden doodle and currently works at a group practice.


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Project HEAL is an organization that provides funding for individuals who cannot afford treatment for their eating disorder. Please visit the website if you would like to know more about this opportunity!

 

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F.E.A.S.T. Provides Parents With Evidence-Based Resources for Eating Disorder Care

If you haven’t spent any time on F.E.A.S.T. yet, please do! It’s an international organization for parents and caregivers of eating disorder patients. If your child has an eating disorder, especially anorexia, then please go check out their resources for evidence-based treatment.

I created this printable graphic regarding some of the core principles the organization states:

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Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating disorders and body hate.

She’s the founder of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents who have kids with eating disorders and other struggles.