In this informative episode, our former host, Val Dolgin, is joined by two guests, Vicky and Joanna, who are both experts on eating disorders and disordered eating. Together they talk about the ways in which people of all genders can be pulled into this difficult experience; the stages, characteristics, and myths; and how family and loved ones can provide support.

Vicky is a social justice practicum student working with Embody who generously shares her own lived experience with an eating disorder from which she is now in recovery. Joanna Zelichowska the manager of Embody and a Registered Clinical Counsellor who has been working in the field of eating disorders for more than 10 years. Joanna and team serve the province of British Columbia by providing education, resources, and support for youth, families, educators, and professionals.

Show Notes:

  • We explore three common themes and characteristics of living with an eating disorder: disconnection, isolation, and stigma.
  • Through Vicky’s journey, elements of secrecy, loss, and shame are discussed, and how each can show up, intensify, and the role each plays progressively and overall.
  • We explore the difference between disordered eating and eating disorders.
  • Vicky talks about early signs in her journey, and how her eating disorder may have evolved.
  • Points of potential intervention are considered, and types of support are identified.
  • Vicky and Joanna both offer advice for parents, and discuss the importance of being curious about changes.
  • Often, we hear that when people are praised for their weight loss, it can keep eating disorders in place. Vicky discusses the reality of this notion, and its impact.
  • On the outside, Vicky appeared to be functioning at a very high level; she looked like a superstar. She discusses what was really going on inside for her during this stage.
  • It’s often noted that eating disorders ‘work’ really well for people in the beginning. Vicky and Val discuss how Vicky realized it was no longer ‘working’ for her, and at what point she realized it was time to get help, and what that looked and felt like.
  • Vicky describes her experience with treatment, what was most helpful, and provides some insights and advice for people who may be contemplating treatment for themselves or a friend or loved one.
  • We discuss recovery from the perspective of the characteristics and how you know you are there. Vicky shares how the eating disorder has changed her, and the notion of (ever) being cured.
  • We explain how eating disorders are different from other mental health issues and disorders, and identify the comorbidities.
  • We discuss why eating disorders are about so much more than just food.
  • The team recognizes eating disorders have historically focused on the experiences of women and girls, but in reality, people of all genders experience eating disorders, and the importance of understanding and addressing this limited perspective.

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    • In this episode we refer to the Eating Attitudes Screening Tool. You can access the anonymous online screener here.

    • We also refer to the Body Image Screening Tool. Access the anonymous online screener here.

    • The Anxiety Canada and Embody infographic on Anxiety and Eating Disorders is also a helpful tool. Access it here.