As the warmer weather approaches, the farmers markets begin to open. Shopping at local farmers markets have many benefits:

1. Farm fresh: Produce found in the grocery stores are typically several days old before they reach the store. Produce is often shipped from thousands of miles away, where it must be refrigerated and requires additives to keep it looking fresh. Produce from farmer’s markets are usually handpicked that morning, so it is as fresh as possible. It also ensures that you know what is in your food. Most of the farmers work at their own stands, which gives consumers the chance to talk to them about how they grow and handle their produce.

2. Seasonal: Produce from farmer’s markets are fresh and grown in season; whereas, produce found in the grocery stores are not.

3. Ripe: Produce found at farmer’s markets are picked at the peak of ripeness, which not only tastes better but also provides the best nutrition possible.

4. Affordable: Produce purchased from farmer’s markets are typically cheaper than the produce purchased from grocery stores.

5. Supports local economies: Produce from farmer’s markets are grown within 100 miles of the market. This means the money spent at farmer’s markets helps support local farms thus benefiting the community. Local farms have decreased over the years because of the cost of running a farm and competing with corporate grocery chains. Purchasing from these local farms supports them, giving them the opportunity to provide to consumers as an alternative to mass-produced foods.

6. Better for the environment: Local farms conserve fossil fuels, provides less waste in the form of carbon monoxide, pesticide use and chemical fertilizers.

7. Social: Farmer’s markets are a great place to gather and meet other people in the community.

Check out to find what is in season, and then head to your local farmers market to pick it up for dinner.

Local farmer’s market currently open in this area:

Wrightsville Beach Farmer’s Market
• Municipal Ln
• 8 AM-1PM every Monday

Carolina Beach Farmer’s Market
• S Lake Park Blvd at Atlanta Ave
• 8 AM-1PM every Saturday

Riverfront Farmer’s Market
• Water Street in front of court house
• 8 AM-1PM every Saturday until November 17th

Port City Produce
• 5740 Market St or 6458 Carolina Beach Rd
• 9 AM-7 PM Monday-Friday, 8 AM-7 PM Saturday, 10 AM-6 PM

Poplar Grove Farmer’s Market
• 10200 US-17
• 8 AM-1 PM every Wednesday

The decision to pursue Weight Loss Surgery is usually not an impulsive one. Some consider it for years; others for several months. The last straw may be the recommendation of primary care doctor; weight loss in order to have an orthopedic operation; the shame of being denied a ride at an amusement park; seeing the success of a friend, coworker or loved one after their surgery. The decision comes from many sources, but it is almost never an impulsive or lighthearted one. So the call to the bariatric surgeon is made: whether with excitement or dread that important first step is often filled with ambivalence and regret that one has got to this stage.

It is not surprising given how difficult the first step is that it is frustrating after having considered and then reconsidered the decision to be told that one must complete a series of tests before being seen or setting a surgery date : medical tests, psychological tests and nutrition sessions. It seems like once the decision is made it should be full steam ahead, let’s get the surgery over with and on to the new life. The medical and nutrition education make sense and seem to be straight forward, maybe frustrating to schedule but doable.

It’s the psychological evaluation that often causes further angst. Patients often come to the psychological evaluation anxious and defensive. It is not unusual for someone who has struggled with obesity to experience some depression, anxiety or difficulty dealing with stress. Feelings of shame over obesity and the stigma that one suffers at the hands of others takes a toll over time. Many of us eat emotionally…not just an obese person. It is not uncommon for patients to feel at fault, that they have failed at this most important thing and to fear they will be told something is “mentally wrong” with them. Fears that all too common symptoms will lead to being denied often lead to the defensive posture that “everything is completely okay, no problems, no stress, no past conflicts, no emotional eating, no, no and no”

Just as hypertension often occurs with obesity, several psychological disorders or symptoms seem to be prevalent. No one would want their bariatric surgeon to perform surgery if their blood pressure was so out of control that they would have severe complications from the operation. The same should be true for psychological issues. It is not the presence of symptoms, whether depression, anxiety, etc; it is how these can be treated either before or after surgery.

The psychological evaluation is to help design an effective treatment plan to address emotional issues that would adversely affect outcome. Many people believe that after the surgery, their lifestyle automatically changes. They will be able to change eating habits because of the surgery or adverse consequences of eating certain foods. Along with the smaller or new stomach, one will no longer want certain foods, will have time to prepare and cook meals, will not eat due to being tired, lonely, anxious, or stressed. Intellectually, we all know this is not true but we operate on this principle.

Keep this point in mind: during the 12-18 months after surgery, the most significant weight loss is to occur. If you think of the surgery as the Olympics, the call to the surgeon is signing up for to be considered for the Olympic team. You would train well before the actual Olympic event. Consider how successful a skier would be if the first time they strapped on skis was on the chairlift going up to that double black diamond. The months between the first call to the surgeon and the operation are your training time. You practice the dietary changes, you plan for exercise or even begin exercising if possible, you address emotional eating patterns, you learn to track intake, give up carbonated beverages, practice the 30/30/30 rule. The list goes on. This period is the time to fail, to recognize where your weakness are. Maybe it’s dining out or eating watching TV or the siren song of a Sundrop. We know that there are different types of hunger: stomach, mouth, eye and head. The surgery will almost eliminate stomach hunger. What about the others? What is the plan? Practicing the plan before surgery is a key to success. If depression and/or anxiety would interfere with success, often a treatment plan can be implemented without a long delay before surgery.

Finally you are cleared for surgery, a date is set. What does one do once they are accepted to the final Olympic team? Do you stop training: go on a food farewell tour, stop tracking your intake, have one last soda, stop practicing all the skills until it’s time to enter the Olympic village? Surgery is an event, like an Olympic contest. But whether you end up at Disney World and on the cover of Wheaties depends much more on your training.

The psychological evaluation is not another hoop to get through before the promised changes. It can hopefully be an honest exchange comprised of education and exploration of what will be the strengths and challenges one will face on their journey. What skills can be added to make that journey a success. As disappointing as delays can be they likely add up to just a moment in your new life, take the time to prepare. It will be well worth getting that Gold Medal.


Many college institutions and universities offer the opportunity for students to study a semester abroad in a foreign country. This is an invaluable experience for a young person to learn and grow both academically and personally. This topic of discussion has come up in my sessions working alongside college-aged students in eating disorder recovery. The decision to study abroad is a commitment that requires an extended amount of time away from family, friends, and other sources of support. I utilize these evaluative questions to explore with my client their readiness to travel abroad in recovery:

• Are my symptoms managed well? Am I able to regulate using healthy coping skills? Do I have a relapse-prevention plan in place?
• Is my physical and mental health stabilized?
• Have I been making progress in recovery for a continual amount of time?
• Do I feel properly supported?
• Does the thought of travel bring joy and excitement (not fear or anxiety)?

How Do I Know I Am Ready to Study Abroad?
From traveling long hours on a plane, exposure to different foods, adjustments to time zones, experiencing a new culture and way of daily living – the choice to study abroad would be carefully considered and discussed with a treatment team (primary therapist, registered dietician, medical provider, etc). Considering the costs and benefits of the timing of the trip abroad is also important – a person should ideally be at an outpatient level of care, medically and psychologically stable and solidly in recovery. With guidance from a treatment team, realistic expectations and goals can be met if planned out accordingly.

Maintaining Mental and Physical Health Abroad:
Choose with recovery in mind. Traveling abroad for the first time in recovery is not the time to push or challenge too much. I encourage clients to be mindful in choosing a location and/or program type that will be aligned with maintaining recovery (i.e. access to appropriate dietary needs, ability to maintain contact with support network) – reminding them that there will be other opportunities to explore different destinations in trips to come.

Engage in self-care. Ah, the infamous s-word. Taking care of basic health needs is a fundamental way to preserve any type of recovery. Upholding a regular sleep schedule, proper nutrition, limiting alcohol, taking daily medications, journaling before bed or beginning the day with a meditation; whatever works in day-to-day life in America should be translated abroad to incorporate stability into the new and potentially changing environment.

Stay connected. Traveling or studying abroad can feel isolating at times, especially when navigating a different culture. Staying connected to various sources of support is important. This can be met through an online eating disorder support group, emails from a treatment team member or regular scheduled FaceTime or phone calls with a loved one.


Cassy Taverna, MSW, LCSW-A currently sees individual clients and facilitates S.O.A.R (Staying Open about Recovery), a support group for college-aged women who are making strides to positively stay on track with eating disorder recovery. Her clinical interests include the treatment of eating disorders, trauma, anxiety/mood disorders and LGBTQIA issues. Cassy loves to travel as she presented her research on Disordered Eating Among Newly Bereaved Spouses at the International Conference on Community Mental Health in Bangalore, India during her graduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Many people are surprised to hear that I often eat with my clients. They think it is odd to ask a client to bring a snack or a meal to a nutrition appointment or silly that we might complete a meal together one-on-one or in a group setting. The reality is that some of the most valuable information about one’s food intake and eating behaviors is gathered by eating with them. During this snack or meal time the food rules, fear foods, and/or eating disorder behaviors can be addressed in the moment in an encouraging and supportive way. Meal time can be very stressful for a person with a poor relationship with food and/or for those individuals with disordered eating or an eating disorder so providing meal support as part of treatment can be a game-changer.

Meal support is common at the residential, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient levels of care but is may not be offered as commonly in an outpatient setting. I’ve found that adding meal support as part of the treatment plan at the outpatient level can be monumental to achieving nutrition-related goals. Some outcomes of meal support may include:

  • Improved ability to complete a meal or snack
  • Acceptance and tolerance of  a variety of foods and beverages
  • Confidence in portioning and eating appropriate amounts of food for one’s needs
  • Practicing normal eating behaviors and while decreasing eating disorder behaviors
  • Challenging and reducing food rules and rituals
  • Practicing distress tolerance while feeling emotionally supported
  • Improved confidence around self-regulated food intake
  • Recognition of  hunger and fullness cues
  • Improved mindfulness at mealtime

Incorporating meal support into practice is useful not only for clinicians but also for the client’s community of support, if appropriate. I recommend that a team approach (dietitian, therapist, support persons, client, etc.) is used in planning and preparing for the meal and that meal support goals and the experience is individualized for each client.  For example, person A might set a short term goal to practice eating a meal mindfully with the ultimate goal of identifying hunger and fullness cues while person B may set a short term goal of eating 100% of the meal to help achieve the long term goal of re-nourishing their body. Goals will evolve and change as appropriate throughout the journey. Seek out a registered dietitian that specializes in eating disorder treatment to help identify appropriate meal support goals and to assist in planning meals and giving guidance and tips for before, during and after the meal.

Chrysalis Center offers meal support 3 times a week as part of their Intensive Outpatient Program and once a week for those partaking in outpatient services. Talk to your treatment team if you think this would be beneficial for you!


Courtney is a registered dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition and eating disorder treatment. She incorporates HAES and non-diet principles into her practice. In addition to nutrition consultations, Courtney leads IOP and outpatient meal support group and IOP nutrition group.


In a lamp lit room, a group of six casually dressed people sit in chairs which are arranged in a circle.  All, but one, seem to be engaged in two or three different conversations as a more formally dressed woman enters the room. She sits in one of the vacant seats of the circle as the people in the room gradually turn their eyes toward her. “Good morning,” she says, “you guys are a bubbly group this morning.” She smiles wryly as a tall gray-haired man in the group says, “Well, Amy started it.” He turns his gaze onto a thirty-year-old blonde woman sitting to his left who smiles as she begins to explain, “I picked up my six-month chip last night. It’s the longest I have been sober since I started drinking fifteen years ago.” Members of the group all offer her their congratulations in various ways. John, the quiet one, glances up quickly and says in a flat voice, “Keep up the good work, Amy.” “You don’t seem yourself today, John. What is going on with you,” asks the more formally dressed woman, a therapist facilitating this relapse prevention therapy group. Looking down at the floor, John reveals to the group that he used yesterday.

Like everyone else in this therapy group, John is an addict. Most of the people in the room have at least 90 days clean and are now working on relapse prevention skills. If they are not actively using drugs or alcohol, why are they still in treatment? What are relapse prevention skills? And, what is a “relapse”?

One reason to remain in treatment after discontinuing the use of substances is because the physiological addiction is only part of the challenge. Long after the individual has ceased substance use, the psychological and behavioral elements of addiction remain. Many addicts struggle with how to cope with stress, celebrate, socialize, or even go to sleep without relying on a substance.    These elements of addiction need to be addressed or most addicts slip right back into substance use.

Another aspect to consider is that “withdrawal symptoms” can actually last for up to two years after cessation of use. While the acute symptoms may alleviate within a few weeks, there are “post acute” withdrawal symptoms that follow. During this time, changes that occur in the brain, as the brain is adjusting to no longer having the effects of the substance use, can trigger a person to want to use. It can even cause them to have very vivid dreams of using that are so real, the individual may have trouble telling the difference between the dream and reality.

This is what happened to John mentioned earlier. He awoke one morning having had a “using dream.” It felt real, as if he had used his drug of choice and actually felt high. Realizing this was a dream, he tried to put it out of his mind, but he just kept thinking about it. He didn’t share his struggles with anyone, feeling like a dream was a silly thing with which to trouble his sponsor and other friends. Later that day, he received a call from an old using buddy whose car had broken down and who needed a ride. John picked up his friend, and when he dropped that friend off, the friend repaid him for his help with his drug of choice. John tried to decline, but his friend left the drugs on the seat of the car and waved goodbye. John returned home to an empty apartment and used.

The bottom line is, getting sober is different from staying sober. To recover from substance addiction requires learning a new lifestyle, developing a support system that will help you maintain that lifestyle, and learning how to cope with life on life’s terms… without using. The relapse prevention phase of treatment focuses on achieving these goals. While someone, like John, might slip up and use while in the process of learning such skills, they can remain connected with support and treatment, using the experience as a learning tool, and preventing a complete return to his/her former way of life.

After John shared with the group, they offered him support. Amy said, “John, I know how hard it was to come in here and say that. I know I’d be worried that people would judge me, so thank you for sharing and showing us that it is safe to do so.” Others chimed in and echoed Amy’s commendation. One group member shared, “When I feel like I  want to use, I call someone from our group and call my sponsor. I keep calling numbers until I get someone on the phone.” Another said, “When I am craving, I get out of wherever I am and go somewhere safe. I like to walk on the beach. It clears my mind and calms me down.” Then, the therapist facilitated a discussion around the various elements of John’s story and the skills that any group member could use should any of them face similar things in the future.

  • I am a Psychologist and Clinical Addictions Specialist at the Chrysalis Center. I have successfully treated individuals who struggle with addiction for eight years. I also treat individuals with binge eating, anxiety, depression, and trauma challenges. To schedule an appointment to see me, please call the Chrysalis Center at 910.790.9500. ~Lillian Hood, LPA, LCAS

*John and Amy are fictional characters used to demonstrate the real experience that individuals under these circumstances tend to face.


Hopefully it’s coming to an end but flu activity this season is the worst we’ve seen in over a decade, The flu vaccine is less than 20% effective against the current strain of flu. So what can we do to protect ourselves in effort to prevent? What can we do to support our bodies and boost our immune system if good ol’ influenza comes knocking at your door?

Proper nutrition can help ward off the flu or during a bout of the flu can help to limit the severity and duration of the illness, which helps to prevent the flu from escalating. One way to boost the immune system is to maintain a vitamin C regimen. 1,000-2,000 mg of vitamin C/day may reduce severity of symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness. Consuming adequate produce is another simple way to boost immunity since they are loaded with Vit C and other antioxidants. A few favorites to add are citrus fruit, cabbage, broccoli, pumpkin, sweet potato, and spinach.

Include in your meal planning a healthy level of good bacteria. Incorporating probiotics is valuable in restoring levels of these healthy bacteria in our body to protect us from infection. A quality probiotic supplement is recommended but remember to always take after antibiotic use. A few fermented foods to include are kefir, yogurt (make sure the label says it contains “live active culture”) and sauerkraut.

We experience fevers because the body’s defense mechanism is heating up in effort to kill the virus. This can cause loses of vital fluids, especially if you experience vomiting and diarrhea, so it’s crucial to rehydrate. Keeping the kidneys hydrated will naturally support the immune and lymphatic system. Our lymphatic system filters out foreign invaders and it’s comprised of mostly water. Since our lymphatic system and immune system work synergistically, it’s imperative to keep drinking those fluids which will keep everything moving smoothly.

Try sipping on this tea to prevent the flu but if already contracted, it will help you recover more quickly.

Mulled Apple Cider
Serves: 4 cups
4 cups apple cider
3-4 cups water
1 tbsp. dried ginger
star anise pods
3 whole cinnamon sticks
2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. allspice
Put all ingredients into a soup pot and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to simmer.
Cover and simmer for one hour.

Physical exhaustion is a common symptom of the flu. Light meals such as chicken or veggie soup with homemade bone broth let the body divert it’s energy to the healing process rather than straining to digest a large meal. Let yourself rest and sleep to allow your body to recuperate. Good sleep cycles help the immune system work well.

When you have yellow or green phlegm, reach for garlic. It helps your body suppress infection. Garlic is an antibiotic, antimicrobial, and antibacterial and can work wonders.

When you have clear phlegm, reach for ginger. It is a muscle relaxant and may have the power to reduce coughing and inflammation. Adding 1-2 tsp of raw honey to ginger tea. A cough can be a good thing; your body is trying to get rid of mucus that may be collecting in your lungs. However, a persistent cough may be annoying if it keeps you up at night. Ginger can help with nausea too.

Herbs to include: Oregano is a powerhouse of flu-fighting properties since it’s antibacterial, anti-fungal, and an antioxidant. Rosemary is highly antiviral and antibacterial. Thyme is a powerful antimicrobial remedy. Echinacea acts as an anti-inflammatory, which can help reduce bronchial symptoms of the flu.

Keep your immune system strong throughout the year!

As we wrap up National Eating Disorder Awareness week, with this year’s theme of “Let’s Get Real”, a major focus of the campaign is on ending stigma. One group of people who struggle with being stigmatized the most are males with eating disorders. It is a common stereotype that only women struggle with eating and body image issues, when in reality 1 in 3 people with an eating disorder is male and 10 million males in the United States alone will be impacted by an eating disorder at some point in their lives. There is also a commonly held misperception that the only males who suffer from eating disorders are homosexuals; actually, the majority of men with eating disorders are heterosexual.

Men and boys of all backgrounds experience eating disorders, and there is a high prevalence rate amongst athletes. Just this week, Seattle Mariner’s catcher Mike Marajma opened up about his battle with an eating disorder ( Sports that focus on weight restriction as a means for improving performance create increased vulnerability for the development of eating disorders. Gymnasts, runners, body builders, rowers, wrestlers, jockeys, dancers, and swimmers are at risk when pressure is put on them to achieve a certain weight.

Men often go undiagnosed or untreated for a variety of reasons. They are less likely to seek treatment and more likely to be overlooked by medical professionals. Eating disorders in general have the highest mortality rate of any mental health condition and studies have shown that males have an even greater risk of dying from an eating disorder than their female peers; again, a lag in proper diagnosis or barriers to seeking treatment can contribute. To highlight this, the last male with anorexia that I encountered clinically had been seeing a therapist for a year for anxiety and had undergone extensive medical testing for reported GI issues. He’d lost over 40 pounds in a short period of time and was at roughly 65% of his ideal body weight when I encountered him in the hospital (he was there for flu and dehydration). No one had recognized that what he was dealing with was in fact an eating disorder. He ended up requiring months of inpatient hospitalization to help him restore weight.

Luckily there are more intensive treatment options for men with eating disorders available as the field recognizes the need to offer gender inclusive treatment. In fact, a review of hospitalizations for men with eating disorders showed a 53% increase over a 10 year period from 1999-2009. If you are a male struggling with an eating disorder, or know a male who is, know that help is available!

A few resources:
“Man Up To Eating Disorders” by Andrew Walen


Eating Disorder Awareness Week

For the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA)’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week (February 26-March 4), the theme is “Let’s Get Real.” The goal is to highlight the stories we don’t hear as often and to open the conversation to everyone.

For more info from NEDA, please go to, and if you are concerned you might have an eating disorder, use their Helpline 1-800-931-2237 or their screening tool

According to statistics provided by NEDA, 30 million Americans struggle with a “full blown” eating disorder, and countless more struggle with eating and body image concerns. Because of the stereotypes and stigma attached to mental illness and eating disorders, a lot of people don’t reach out for help.

Last year, the theme was “It’s Time To Talk About It” and Kelly Broadwater, LPA here at Chrysalis Center highlighted the high mortality rate, the lack of funding for research, the negative messages about food and weight we get bombarded with every day, getting help, and having hope. To read more from this blog post, go to

Truths About Eating Disorders

There are a lot of stereotypes about eating disorders. How many of those are even real? Instead of going through all the myths about eating disorders, here are some truths:

  • An eating disorder is not a choice; it is a mental illness with serious physical, cognitive, and psychological implications.
  • It is not possible to “just snap out of it.”
  • There is no one cause for an eating disorder, it is a different root for every person.
  • It is a big deal.
  • Anorexia is not the only eating disorder, even if it is the one we think of most often – bulimia, binge eating disorder, and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder are also serious, life threatening illnesses that need to be taken seriously.
  • Just because you don’t see it physically, doesn’t mean it’s not there or that you should ignore signs because it doesn’t fit the stereotype.
  • There are a lot of other issues linked to eating disorders, including anxiety, depression, and trauma.
  • People need their support system, including friends, family, and treatment team, to recover.
  • Men can have eating disorders, and the CDC found that about 1/3 of all eating disorder sufferers are male.
  • Children as young as five can develop eating disorders, and many people who struggle with eating disorders as a child or adolescent will continue to struggle with them as an adult unless they receive help.
  • It is not just about food.

For people with these disorders, one of the biggest obstacles is the secrets and shame that go along with those behaviors.

Say Something!

Too often, loved ones will see something wrong and not say anything – if we are going to “Get Real” that needs to change. People are afraid to bring things up, but that is one of the things that keeps the stigmas about mental health and eating disorders alive.

Why not ask, or express concern? What is wrong with talking about it, really? It can be a difficult topic, but if it is approached with concern, caring, and empathy, people will rarely shut down the conversation.

If this seems too stressful or delicate to do on your own, seek help from a professional (a therapist or dietician who specializes in eating disorders) to help you have the conversation.

As an eating disorder specialist, the most important message I want people to hear is that truth and honesty is necessary from everyone affected – the person with the eating disorder and their loved ones.

Don’t walk on eggshells – but don’t smash them either. If you try to get real, make sure you are coming from a genuine place of caring before you try to open the conversation. If it is approached with compassion, the conversation has a much better chance of being productive for the person with the eating disorder and their loved ones.


NEDAwareness decorative banner

The new and “Free” Weight Watchers program directed towards adolescent’s may negatively harm them.

Weight Watchers announced on February 7th, that they will be providing free memberships, six weeks during the summer, for teenagers between the ages of 13 to 17 years old. Weight Watchers aims to increase its’ program reach to 5 million people by the end of 2020 – as they plan to build lifelong customers.

The question here is, what are the impacts of this program on adolescents today?

Although this may initially sound enticing and may be hard to see the harm, let’s look at some points that  show how this could negatively impact teenagers–now and in the future.

Weight Watchers is sending out a message to all teenagers, participants of the program or not, that something is wrong with their body, which is a form of body shaming. Is this the kind of message that we want to give to teenagers today? According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the main reasons teens develop eating disorders is SOCIETAL PRESSURE. We should be showing teens we love them as they are.

The obesity epidemic is no doubt a major concern relating to teens’ health and to their future. Obesity and eating disorders are widespread among teenagers. Everywhere you turn, there is a picture of what a perfect body looks like and the many ways one can try to achieve it.

However, programs such as this needs to be evaluated before being promoted, especially considering the psychological outcome. A 2016 research study by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that obesity prevention can lead to eating disorders. Eating disorders are the 3rd most chronic condition following obesity and asthma in adolescents. Adolescence is a critical age where the individual develops self-identity, and messages like these can trigger young people to believe their bodies are not perfect, which can lead to eating disorders.

According to Dr. Eve Freidl at Columbia University, teenagers are supposed to be growing and getting bigger, and their brains just aren’t fully developed yet — the part of the brain that is more involved in the emotional world is developing faster than the part of the brain that is really good at long-term planning and decision making,” she says. “So while Weight Watchers is suggesting that this might be a good time to implement healthy behavioral strategies, I think saying that without data and research, as to the most responsible way to do it, can be dangerous.”

So, if  programs and messages like these are not in the best interest of the child then how do we help them?

What we need to do is to create a more balanced environment for them to be able to adopt a healthier lifestyle – guiding them constructively to make healthier and wiser choices and to increase physical activity is the best approach.  This message starts at home with parents. They have the biggest responsibility of shaping a child’ behavior. What they eat and how they live their lives  is determined by their environment and relationships at home.

We want to create a healthier body image not a distorted body image. This can be accomplished with an integrated approach from family members and health professionals such as a registered dietitian to apply lifestyle modifications.



This blog is co-written by dietetic student intern Rub Ali.

Rachel Hendricks

The Olympics. From the opening ceremonies to the tally of medals, the Olympics is an event we love to watch. The Olympics represents the culmination or continuation of a dream for each athlete attending. A dream that often consumes their lives. And, at times, a dream that causes harm.

As Gracie Gold took a break from ice skating in January, she identified that she needed to pursue treatment for her mental health, broadly, and an eating disorder, more specifically. While we can applaud the courage it took for her to take a break and focus on her wellness, we can also question the environment in which she participated that brought her to that point.

Health, Exercise, and Culture

As a country, we idolize exercise. In fact, attitudes and trends have shifted from women being as focused on “thinspo” to being focused on “fitspo.”  Research also shows that males are being pressured to have “fit” bodies, as well- with an emphasis on bulk and definition. As a result, it is not uncommon for me to see several clients in the same day mentioning they simply want to be “fit” and the role of “healthy” eating and “healthy” exercise to accomplish those goals.

Of course, I am not saying that there is no such thing as healthy eating or healthy exercise. But, as is often the case in our culture, we live in a world of extremes. If one piece of broccoli is good, a whole shake of broccoli (plus all the other so-called super foods) must be better. If running one mile is good, running a marathon must be better. Again, I mean no aspersions towards broccoli or running.

However, there is not an exponential benefit to any one particular food (or food group) or to exercise.

As we watch these athletes who have dedicated their lives to their sport, it is important to recognize what it takes to do so. A balanced and varied diet (purportedly, Michael Phelps eats upwards of 10,000 kcals per day to maintain his stamina). Constant and rigorous physical training (sometimes beyond the point of injury as when Keri Strung completed her second vault after injuring her left leg and had to land on one foot). And, a single-minded focus that when applied elsewhere would be seen as obsessive or compulsive.

Listening to Our Bodies

When we push people to ignore the cues and signals their bodies send them, we set them up for all sorts of problems later on. And, when our criteria of their “wellness” is how well they are performing at their sport, we seriously minimize the reality of the risky world in which these athletes exist.

I can’t tell you how many times I have had someone tell me they cannot recover from their eating disorder because, in their mind, the eating disorder is what makes them excel at their sport. Often, these clients who are living with internal turmoil are getting compliments and positive feedback from others based on their performance.

When our eyes turn towards the Olympics in South Korea, let us do so with greater awareness. And, let us focus on the athlete as a complete, complex, and multi-dimensional person. A person who has worth outside of their sport. A person who deserves to be able to treat their body well. A person who deserves to be celebrated for all that they are.


If you are an athlete struggling with eating or exercise behaviors, please don’t hesitate to reach out for additional support. We have a dietitian and several therapists who both specialize in working with athletes as well as being athletes, themselves. Contact our admissions office at (910) 790-9500 for additional information and to get scheduled.


Rachel Hendricks, LCSW specializes in working with clients who have had their eating disorder for ten or more years, clients with co-occurring substance use behaviors, as well as working with couples and families. She facilitates two groups: Motivation to Change and Declutter Class, and she is currently accepting referrals for both. She is excited to be making the transition to Wilmington from the Center for Eating Disorders in Baltimore, Maryland. Rachel looks forward to continuing her reputation for providing excellent clinical care in the field of behavioral health.


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