Integrative Treatment of Eating Disorders

April 18th, 2014 Courtney M

Living with an eating disorder can consume every part of your life. In addition to affecting your physical health, eating disorders affect your mental wellbeing and you can feel their reach into your daily life and personal relationships. While it is easy to want to get treatment for an eating disorder, the truth is that it can be very difficult to find a treatment that targets the cause of the disorder and gets you the help you need.

Rather than trying to suppress the symptoms of an eating disorder, it is important to identify the root of the problem. In an effort to do this, your doctor can help find the treatment method that will be most effective for your unique situation. Different medication, natural therapy, psychology and bodywork are all varying types of treatment for eating disorders. Acupuncture can be used to help balance the energy levels in your body so that you feel free and healthy once more.

You may also opt for functional medicine, which aims to target the foods and nutrients you are avoiding, so that your body recovers from any deficiencies that have developed. Neurofeedback will help you retrain and recondition your brain to work in conjunction with your body so that you do not restrict your intake and can instead understand the benefits of the food you eat and how eating disorders can be destructive. Oftentimes an eating disorder will occur when another condition is present, such as OCD, anxiety or depression, so it is important to talk with your doctor when any symptoms arise so that you can get the help you need to be healthy.

Integrative Treatment of Eating Disorders allows the body to develop new ways of communicating and coping to help restore balance.

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Spring has Sprung: Wellness Tips

April 12th, 2014 Heather Purdin

From Mirasol ED Recovery Guest Blogwriter ~ Faith

The first day of spring has fallen, and even if the weather hasn’t quite caught up around the nation, sun breaks, small flowers, and other small signs are showing uplifting promises that sunny skies and crisp, refreshing weather will soon be upon us! Even if it is a bit cold, I have found every sunny day tends to uplift my spirit, my motivation, and even encourage me to continue to the journey of recovery by staying in my wise mind and exploring new things in order strengthen my toolbox of skills to fight when I feel vulnerable.  Below are a few of ideas, some may be new and others you may already use, for the upcoming season.


Brighten up your bathroom or kitchen. Sometimes it helps to makeover or even simply replace towels, rugs, other small things in places that may have been triggering spots. Spring cleaning also helps! I often feel overwhelmed by too much stuff or things that are unorganized, even when I think I don’t have much. Just taking on small projects, one at a time, is a great way to get a handle on winter build up. Make local donations with your gently used items; everything helps!

When you feel old urges beginning to come on, set a timer and have a list of back up tasks and distractions. Maybe you need to vacuum. Have you mopped your floor this week? Is there a craft drawer you’ve been needing to clean out? Could that ten dollars your ED wants to spend on food be used for something new to brighten up your living space or put toward a treat such as a haircut or massage? Maybe you’re saving for something else that you’re passionate about; keep those goals where you can easily see them.

I’m always on a budget, but saving money on food and being able to get other things, even simple things, is new and refreshing because it’s no longer being wasted on the eating disorder. At the end of the month, if I’m able to put away some money, I have a sense of accomplishment. If I’m able to replace a soothing candle, or even better cleaning products (which I used to reluctantly buy) I’m happy to be able to make my home be and smell clean.


In addition to spring cleaning, getting out and about this time of year to break the winter blues. Check out what’s happening in your community. Even though I live in a small town, I’ve still been able to find a number of free events and resources. A great place to start is your local library or community center. Libraries now have a building catalog of DVD’s, CD’s, and even video games. They also offer a variety of classes, free music downloads, as well as free magazine digital downloads. Check their monthly newsletter for other events going on such as free language or educational classes. Sometimes it’s hard to take that first step out of your comfort zone, often because the eating disorder has isolated us for so long. If you have a friend or support person that can go with you the first time that can be beneficial, if not, don’t let it stop you; such events can be a great stepping stone to meeting others and bursting that isolation bubble.

Get outside, too! Vitamin D is a natural anti-depressant! With spring and summer upon us, and hopefully refreshing seasons, it’s a great time to explore new activities or try out interests and passions you may have enjoyed in the past that the eating disorder took away. If you haven’t been doing much or are slowly introducing light to moderate activity back into your lifestyle, start with simple short walks or even gardening. If feasible, try walking to an errand rather than driving. However, remember that the activity is for enjoyment and keep the eating disorder in check for ulterior motives if it has been an issue in the past.


Surprisingly, many of these day to day techniques are all part of continuing to exercise your wise mind and maintain balance. If you are into using DBT, two distress tolerance skills to keep in mind are: wise mind ACCEPTS, and wise mind SELF SOOTHES with the five senses.  ACCEPTS is the acronym for remembering to distract with: Activities (cleaning, going for a walk), Contributing (donating, volunteering), Comparisons (I usually skip this one :P ), Emotions (If you need to let your emotional side out, watch a movie, listen to a certain song), Pushing Away, Thoughts(mentally take a vacation from the thought/situation for a while, distract, and come back to it when you’re not as vulnerable and feel more able), and Sensations(hot/cold methods, shower, jump in a lake/pool if it’s during a warm summer-no polar plunges! breathe)!

Soothing with the five sense can be with Vision (having a bouquet of flowers, putting up a new picture, going on a pretty walk) HEARING (listening to relaxing music, playing an instrument) SMELL (lighting a relaxing candle, having a special lotion) TASTE (enjoying those new juicy berries, enjoy a small treat mindfully) TOUCH (a relaxing shower/bath, cold compress, soft shirt, fresh cool evening air).


Getting back into your summer and spring clothes may be triggering, so prepare yourself in advance. If you absolutely know the clothes will not fit, don’t let your ED take over or submit yourself to the triggering experience of trying them on; just put them in the donate bag. Yes, you may have to make a few new purchases, but remind yourself of the new energy and ability to experience the coming new seasons you will have with a healthy body and mind. Thrift store shopping can be a great way to save money, however, it can be difficult because you will be trying things on of all different brands, even if they are the same “sizes.” Bring someone supportive with you and take on one situation at a time, starting with what you think you can handle. No matter what, keep your affirmations and remember you are beautiful and healthy, and no tag or size can define you.


Spring is a great time to refresh and add variety to your diet, especially if you’ve been in a winter rut. Farmer’s markets will be opening offering fresh from the farm produce and other homemade goodies, as well as beautiful bouquets of flowers to brighten up your living space! Fruit stands are another great place to find good produce buys, and berry picking is both a fun activity that also provides you with a delicious bounty of berries to enjoy.

Here are a few summery preview recipes from Mirasol’s upcoming cookbook!


Cucumber Avocado Salad
by Amy Langley

A bright summery salad for a hot day with a little extra bonus for your meal plan. Avocado is actually a fruit but counts as a healthy fat due to its beneficial essential fatty acids. Chop avocado and cucumber into cubes. Add rice wine vinegar and sesame seeds and toss.Allow salad to chill in the fridge for 10 minutes before serving.

1 English cucumber
1 ripe avocado
¼ C rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
Salt to taste
Dash of sesame oil

Garden Brown Rice

In a skillet, sauté onion, garlic and carrots for 10 minutes in oil over medium heat. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook another 15 minutes over low heat or until done. To cook brown rice, bring 3 C water to a boil. Add 1½ C rice and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until for 30?45 minutes, until done.

Serves 8

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large carrot, sliced thin
3 C brown rice, cooked
4 vegetarian bouillon cubes
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cilantro, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
1 yellow squash
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 can of corn


Last but not least, if you ha

ve read previous posts, you know I’m always one for keeping positive affirmations around and keeping a gratitude journal. Don’t make it a daunting task; it doesn’t have to be perfect. If you find a moment in the evening or morning where you can even write a simple sentence of what you are thankful for, research has shown that your cognitive pathways actually begin to change.  And, for the start of the new season, I will leave you with two short passages that I have found particularly helpful as well as somewhat thought provoking lately.


What happens on the outside matters. Yet the way you choose to be on the inside, matters much, much more.

Outside factors do indeed make life challenging. Yet the inside factors are what allow those challenges on the outside to hold you back, or enable them to push you forward.

You can change the outside world for the better. To do so, you must continually keep a positive orientation on the inside.

What you think about life determines what you’re able to do with your life. The way you feel about life sets the stage for the way you actually live the moments of each day.

Sure, it might go against your intuition to be up when the world seems to be pulling you down. However, you most certainly can do it, and when you do, you can quickly change things for the better.

Make it your intention to be strong, positive, purposeful, compassionate, curious and creative on the inside. And you cannot help but make a significant and beautiful difference in the world around you.

-Ralph Marston



If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you like to win, but you think you can’t,
it is almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost.
For out in the world we find
success begins with a fellow’s will.
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclasses, you are.
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win to a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man.
But sooner or later, the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.

- C.W. Longenecker

Blessings on your continued journey toward wellness. ~ Faith

Vision Boards: Attracting New Realities

April 3rd, 2014 Heather Purdin

From Mirasol ED Recovery Guest Blogwriter ~ Hope

Spring has sprung. Most people think about spring cleaning this time of year, but as they days grow longer and warmer, I think of manifesting goals and dreams. Spring is almost like an awakening for me. Today, we have a chance to clear out the cobwebs in our life and spring forward into our greatest potential with a creative tool referred to as a vision board.

The theory of vision boards draws from the law of attraction. You take words, pictures, images, and quotes and collage together a visual representation of what you wish to attract in your life.

For the rigid minded, vision boards invite expansive thinking. The creative element allows for an opportunity to let go of control for a moment. For the flighty mind, the boundary of the board serves as a container for thought and encourages narrowing decisions down to the allotted space.

I’ve had many therapists ask me to write out a one year or even a five year plan of what I wish to achieve in my future. While amidst a severe eating disorder, this was simply an inconceivable task. I was taking life meal by meal and was being asked to imagine taking leaps and bounds through time when I couldn’t imagine making it through the next two weeks.

However, art has always appealed to my soul, so during my last treatment experience, I made a compromise. I made a one year “plan” using a vision board. It just seemed less threatening to me than to commit to hopes and dreams that, at the time, seemed likely to fail. A great difference exists between attracting versus achieving. The vision board concept is more abstract and open to interpretation, yet still a very helpful tool to communicate the wishes I had for myself. It was a dare to dream experiment within my comfort zone.

Within the next year, I was shocked by how many things from that vision board unfolded for me. It turns out that some things weren’t what I wanted at all! However, many, many more were right up my alley.

Rather than suggest you use caution while creating your own vision board, I propose making conscious choices of what appeals to you. Really immerse yourself in the process with wild abandonment. You do not have to achieve everything on your vision board. It is more of a tangible guide of what you wish for yourself if you were to dare to dream like I did. Some of it will manifest. Some of it will not, at least not at this time. It’s like that saying, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase; just take the first step.”

While recreating my vision board this spring, I recycled many of the images that had not yet unfolded or still had room for improvement. Others, I tossed. I’m a different person than I was a year and a half ago. The soul evolves with life experiences. We change our minds. We grow into new hopes. We let go of old, stagnant ideals. It’s all part of the process.

And regarding the process, very rarely does anyone finish a vision board in one sitting. Allow yourself the time you need without pressure or limitation. Some people never “complete” a vision board because they continuously modify it as time goes by.

Photograph of a vision boardSupplies

  • Corkboard or foam board
  • Magazines, pictures, and cutouts
  • Inspirational quotes
  • Scissors
  • Thumb tacks, glue, or tape
  • Ribbon, stickers, or any other embellishments
  • Space to spread out and work
  • Inspirational Music to listen to while working
  • Unleashed creativity


  1. Theme – Decide upon a theme: recovery, health, career, relationships, etc. “How do I want my relationship with food and my body to look like? What improvements to my health do I wish for? How do I want my relationships to unfold…”
  2. Time Frame – Set out with a target time span you wish for your board to cover to help manifest your hopes into realities (i.e. the season, the next 6 months, the next year). This will guide you when making decisions of what to include.
  3. Collect Images – Collect or cutout images that represent your hopes and dreams for yourself. You can incorporate original art into your vision board. You can also photocopy things you like.
  4. Quotes (optional) – It may help to consider incorporating some of your favorite quotes and inspirational affirmations. Include those that motivate you the most.
  5. Assemble – If you are using a corkboard you can use thumb tacks to adhere your collection of images and quotes to the board. If using a foam or project board, you can use glue or tape for adhesion. Take your time with this step and enjoy the collage process. Remember, you are setting new intentions for your life.
  6. Have fun – We all have an imagination. We day dream. We solve problems. Everyone has a creative bone in their body, so unleash yours and see what happens.
  7. In sight – Hang or place your vision board somewhere you will see it often, if not daily. Keep it in sight. We’re rewiring the subconscious to make space for new patterns of thinking and believing. The more you see it, the more you will believe it is possible and attract these hopes and dreams into your conscious awareness.

Growing Up and the Growing Problem: ED’s in Older Populations

March 30th, 2014 Heather Purdin

From Mirasol ED Recovery Guest Blogwriter ~ Faith

While I always remember birthdays, whenever I’m asked how old my parents, siblings, even friends are, I draw a blank. A mental block has somehow formed that once one passes the age of 18, I stop counting. It is only recently that I realized I had stopped counting the years of my struggle with an eating disorder. It is not out of denial, but despite periods of recovery, ED has continued to sneak up on me. I was shocked when I realized it had been about ten years. Eating disorders are often associated with a younger population: struggling teenagers, or high school and college students influenced by media and social pressure to be and look perfect. However, there is a growing number of older women struggling with similar pressures, stressors, body image concerns, and eating issues that are seeking professional help.

Hearing dozens of stories from women who developed their eating disorders during their teens, or even childhood, I have always felt somewhat of an oddity during treatment.  Although I had struggled with mental health issues early on, I did not develop eating issues until my early twenties. After seeking treatment and obtaining a period of recovery, never did I think I would relapse and fall victim to the all-consuming monster of an eating disorder that would steal the rest of my 20’s and continue into my 30’s. I never really paid much attention to age difference in treatment, unless there was a vast difference. There were usually a number of people around my age and I just blended into the mix.

Age aside, recovery from an eating disorder is not an easy path. With our Western culture expecting beauty and perfection, many women believe that the right appearance, weight, and eating patterns (i.e. diets), will create a positive sense of self-worth. A well-known study of how strong the beauty pressures of Western culture are is the Fiji study when they introduced western television. Within three years, women who had normalized body image and eating had developed serious body image and eating issues. 74% felt “too fat,” 69% were “dieting to lose weight,” 11% used self-vomiting; and 29% were at risk for clinical eating disorders.

An Aging Problem

As a woman ages, many problems or stressors get minimized or ignored, thus providing a breeding ground for an eating disorder to develop as they try to live up to both society’s and their own expectations. More research is being done with the increasing trend, but in 2003, 1/3 of admissions to eating disorder treatment centers were over the age of 30. Millions of women are struggling with body image issues and dissatisfaction. 43 million adult women in the US are dieting to lose weight, while another 26 million are dieting to maintain their weight, including 20% of women over the age of 70, which actually increases their health risks. Various surveys of women from ages ranging 30-92 have resulted in a conclusive trend of women wanting to lose weight, dieting, and making weight their greatest concern.

Age-based Specialized Treatment Tracks

Creating separate tracks in treatment can be beneficial for some of the major differences and issues between the younger populations. First of all, human development occurs across the lifespan. The developmental issues for older women need special attention. There are also more inhibiting factors regarding the ability to get treatment due to responsibilities such as family, job, and financial concerns that just increase the anxiety, depression and stressors they are already struggling with. For example, even though I was only five or so years older, the amount of destruction and chaos the eating disorder caused in my life and all the opportunities that were ruined allowed me a greater awareness of how powerful the ED could be and also instilled a greater motivation for treatment, whereas younger women may not yet be able to comprehend the long term effects if they continue to suffer.

Older populations may also struggle with a bit of shame and embarrassment from what is usually known as a “teenager’s problem” and have a greater difficulty seeking the help they need. It can be quite the challenge to be surrounded by younger women having epiphanies left and right while you’ve already been through treatment 10, 20, or even more times with no lasting effects. This alone denotes a need for a different treatment approach for older populations, including those with enduring eating disorders.

Triggers can be different from an age based perspective, too. While body image, dieting, and “fat talk” are a common similarity across the board, other life stressors can trigger a later onset of eating disorders in older women. Issues such as pregnancy, childbirth, childrearing, fertility, menopause, death and grief, work, retirement, competing with younger women, empty nest, becoming a grandparent, infidelity, divorce, and natural signs of aging can all plant a seed for disordered thinking and behaviors.

Eating disorders, particularly anorexia, have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. The medical complications of any eating disorder are similar to anyone struggling, but the longer the illness continues, the more serious the side effects can become. Examples include depleted fat stores and increased menopausal symptoms in adult women. The older the patient, the more stress is placed on the body, mind, and spirit. The rate of mortality is 10% if the disorder has lasted ten years and increases to 20% if lasting even longer. Adults struggling with eating disorders also tend to have to have co-morbid disorders as well as higher rate of abusing alcohol, increasing the risk of death due to medical issues or suicide.

Research Needed

The allegations of such a trend should create a call to action by all. More research is needed and medical professionals need to have more training to create age appropriate and creative treatment options for women who cannot leave their families for intensive treatment for an extensive period of time.

Despite the research and statistics thus far, it is inexcusable eating disorders are still brushed under the rug and many women, young and old, disappear in our culture’s fast paced hierarchy. Compared to schizophrenia, pennies on the dollar are spent on researching eating disorders. NEDA calls for an “emphasis on eating disorders and related nutritional and body image problems as a major public issue.” The goal is to create a shared and genuine commitment to: no woman left behind.

I have been in treatment with people in their early teens to women in their late sixties. I have also been in treatment with women that looked like they were in their sixties but were only in their forties because they had struggled with the eating disorder so long and it had taken such a toll on their body. I’ve lost count over the years of my recovery roller coaster, but when I began hearing about the new specialized 30+  tracks I realized that I’m coming to a 10-year struggle myself (with period of solid recovery in between). I am furious. This was never supposed to begin, nor was it ever supposed to have taken so much of my life or created so many barriers. At times I’ve had to grieve the losses, but I also use it as fire for motivation. I read the research, it’s not exactly promising, but then again, I don’t have to become a statistic.

ED doesn’t get any more of my time, and if I can help anyone learn from my experiences and avoid going down the same path, I will do whatever I can.  We are not invisible, this disease should not be encompassed in “shame,” but as the devastating illness it is. Just as NEDA mentioned before: this is a major public health issue for many populations calling for a genuine commitment: no woman, man, teen, anyone should be left behind.  And that is why, even when it is so hard, I take one step forward each day.

Problems Caused By Bulimia

March 25th, 2014 Courtney M

Eating disorders affect millions of people across the United States. Many times, eating disorders are related to stress and self-esteem issues. People suffering from these issues may use the eating disorder to cope with the feelings, creating a dangerous cycle that leads to long-term health issues. Bulimia is one of the most common eating disorders.

Health Problems

People suffering from bulimia usually binge eat and then purge the food by vomiting. This behavior can lead to many long-term health problems. The health problems associated with bulimia include physical conditions that can lead death and mental conditions that can lead to depression and suicide.

Get Help

Since bulimia is a very dangerous eating condition that can result in long-term health problems, it’s important to find help. There are programs available that can help a person with bulimia face the reasons behind the eating disorder. These programs provide treatment that can increase a person’s self-confidence and can teach the person stress-relief techniques.

Problems Caused By Bulimia

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