Thursday, June 18, 2015

Happy Bookiversary and Another Book Giveaway!

In honor of the one-year anniversary of the publication of Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight, I'm hosting another book giveaway!

To enter the contest, either email me privately (drstaceyny at gmail dot com) or comment below on the topic of: "What Recovery Means to Me."

The deadline for entries is 6/29/15. Two winners will be selected at random that week, and the books should arrive around Independence Day.

Fine print: Please enter the contest only once. For those who submit via email, please include your mailing address to receive a book if you win. If you submit via comment, be sure to send me a follow-up email with your mailing address. By submitting an entry, you authorize DEWHAED to post your anonymous response. Winners will be selected by drawing so as to preserve response integrity. Prior contest winners are ineligible to win this contest.

You can find Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight on Amazon (as a paperback and Kindle) and at

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Love Letter to My Patients in Early Recovery from Anorexia

You recently accused me of wanting you to be fat. Here's what I've been thinking. . . . Long after we part ways, I'll remember the sound of your voice, the tender and emotional moments we shared, those times we burst out laughing together. I'll have little memory of what you weighed.

I have no investment in wanting you, according to your eating disorder, to be fat. What I care about is your brain, that it's nourished sufficiently for you to think clearly and be yourself again. I'd like to see you return to the you you were before this ugly illness hijacked your anatomy and convinced you to accept this as your new normal.

I want you to be healthy - yes, I know you hate this word right now - but, I do. I want you to be able to swim in the ocean, sit comfortably in class, breathe in the mountain air, sleep like a baby, and have a baby (if you're a woman and that's what you want).

I want your bones to be strong enough to remain fracture-free, to support you on the dance floor and through old age. Hopefully, you'll live long and hard in recovery.

I want your hair to return to its previous fullness and luster.

I want your organs to function efficiently, as if to shout, for example, "This is what it looks like to be a working kidney!"

I want your heart to beat at a normal rate and rhythm. I want your most precious muscle to be stable and strong.

I want you to experience less depression and anxiety, for you to rest comfortably through the night, and for those frightening suicidal thoughts, that never plagued you before, to fade into the darkness.

I want you to feel energized, strong, and capable.

You're so immersed in this illness that you don't think anything's wrong. But there is. And I know that the core you, the real you, is terrified and pleading for help.

I don't want you to be fat. I just want you, in multiple definitions of the word, to live.

You can find Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight on Amazon (as a paperback and Kindle) and at

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Two Awards this Week!

This blog was the lucky recipient of not one, but two awards in the blogosphere this week!
Best of the Web - Blog

The first came from Psych Central, which named DEWHAED one of the Top 10 Eating Disorder Blogs of 2015.
The second award came courtesy of Healthline, awarding DEWHAED one of the Best Eating Disorder Blogs of 2015.

Many thanks to these sites for recognizing my nine years(!) of blogging dedication. I encourage my readers to check out my great company on both lists for additional reading suggestions. 

You can find Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight on Amazon (as a paperback and Kindle) and at

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Helping Patients with Binge Eating Disorder Drop the Weight (Mentality)

A woman, who reported she struggles with Binge Eating Disorder, contacted me recently online. She was scheduled to participate in a medical weight-loss program but wondered if she should address her BED first. Unfortunately, this woman is not the only person with BED who has fallen prey to the weight-loss industry.

One of the most challenging things in my work with patients with BED is disavowing them of the diet and weight mentality. Most patients come in with a significant diet history and, despite many failed diet attempts, are intent on losing weight in treatment via the latest diet trends.

I've found through the years that with some patients, getting them to commit to working on their binges, rather than focusing on weight, is a relatively easy switch, while others remain firmly entrenched in a weight-centric mentality. With these patients, I see little-to-no progress. They're they ones that drop out of treatment prematurely when I tell them that their most recent return to Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig is contraindicated with our work. It's a major paradigm shift that's required, and my experience is that patients who are able to think outside the box have an easier time catching on. 

Here are 10 treatment factors I've found that can help bring many patients with BED around to more of a focus on their relationship with food than the current number on the scale.

1) Refuse to set a weight loss goal. Instead, set goals around reducing binge eating and improving the patient's relationship to food.
2) Provide information on the relationship between food restriction and binge eating  (e.g., the diet/binge cycle, the Minnesota Starvation Experiment). Create a timeline of the patient's diet/weight history, noting weight losses followed by inevitable gains. 
3) Do not support the patient's participation in eating trends, cleanses, jumpstarts, etc. Focus on what the patient can add to his current "diet," rather than take away.
4) Operate from an intuitive eating perspective and encourage the patient to legalize off-limits foods in a mindful way.
5) Explore the emotional function of binge eating, as well as how an attachment to the diet mentality may trigger binge emotions. 
6) Provide information on the "Health at Every Size" movement, as well as on the media's inflated damages of obesity; cite meta-analytic studies suggesting that those who are overweight or low-level obese are just as healthy as their "normal"-weight peers.
7) Educate the patient on societal and internalized weight stigma and the toll these experiences can take on her physical and mental health.
8) Work with the patient on acceptance and self-care of his body as-is.
9) Encourage a relationship with movement that is joyful and reinforcing and thus more likely to persist beyond sporadic, diet-centric efforts.
10) Recognize that healing from an eating disorder might be a bumpy road but that, with persistence and attention to the above factors, recovery is entirely possible.

You can find Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight on Amazon (as a paperback and Kindle) and at

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Women's History Month at Miami-Dade College

A couple of weeks ago, I had the honor of speaking at Miami-Dade College for Women's History Month. A number of the students in attendance, as part of a class project, had constructed life-size body collages exhibiting information about eating disorders. Here's a panoramic shot of the students with their projects, their professor, and me:

So wonderful, right? And here are some of the individual projects close up. The first is a visual representation of the emotional pain and body distortion inherent to anorexia:

The second collage highlights the relationship between eating disorders and pregnancy, commenting on the impact of disordered eating on a growing fetus:

I even got to pose with a life-size Barbie, one student's interpretation of Mattel's popular diva:

This Barbie sported post-it notes highlighting her "thin arms," "thigh gap," and other unrealistic, culturally idealized body features. Even life-size, though, her facial expression was manufactured by a printer, and she's barely three dimensional. There's just something much more compelling about real-life people, isn't there?

One of the most sobering parts of the event  occurred as I was gearing up to speak, witnessing various students, faculty members, and other passersby observe the students' creations. One middle-aged woman took a casual glance at the body projects and commented, "I wish I had an eating disorder."

It's never too late to incorporate another anecdote into a talk. . . .

You can find Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight on Amazon (as a paperback and Kindle) and at

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Recovering Around a "Backdrop of Disorder"

Check out my latest NEDA blog about recovering around a backdrop of disorder - thanks NEDA for publishing my words!

You can find Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight on Amazon (as a paperback and Kindle) and at

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Best Worst Question of All

I was recently etroduced to the work of Dana Shavin. Her memoir, The Body Tourist, chronicles her experiences following her recovery from anorexia. I asked her for any insights she might have for my readers about illness and recovery. Here's what she had to say:

The Best Worst Question of All

It’s a great question. And a terrible one.

“What’s the most important thing you learned in your recovery from anorexia?”

I was asked this not long after I left the hospital, by a friend of a friend who was
struggling with depression. It was a great question, because it made me think hard about
what things had really helped, and why and how they helped. And it was a terrible
question, because it asked that I hang my recovery on the peg of one “most important”
thing. To do so would have been to ignore the complexities of anorexia, and the
multitude of important lessons of both illness and recovery.

That said, here is a partial list of the most important things I came to understand that
helped me in my recovery. There are many more things—people, books, therapy,
journaling, taking positive risks, asking for support—that also played a role. As you read
through these, I hope you’ll think about what has helped, or is helping—or would help—you.

--Eating disorders trick us into believing we are thinking clearly, but in truth they are side
trips that lead us away from the real questions we could and should be asking ourselves.
What if, instead of what won’t I eat today and how much can I exercise, I asked
questions like: what are my dreams? My goals? What am I passionate about? What gives
me meaning? What do I want to DO with my time in the world? These questions took me
outside my small, stuck world of anorexia and reminded me that there was a larger world

--Starving, binging and purging, and eating and exercising compulsively are behaviors
rich in metaphor; but ironically, we can only really understand their message once we
STOP engaging in them. I so wanted, while I was ill, a guarantee that my life would be
better/different/happier if I “gave in and gained weight” as I called it. But I learned that
in fact I could not create the better, different, happier life I desired until I stopped the
addictive behaviors. It took every ounce of courage I could muster to trust that I would do
the work of making my life better/different/happier as I regained to a healthy weight. But
it was enormously more empowering to do that work and reap the rewards (I became an
artist and a writer and a dog rescuer and a life coach) than it was to starve, day in and day
out, with no plans, no goals, and no dreams larger than to weigh a bit less than the day

--Recovery is a complex process that starts, but doesn’t finish, in the 28 days or 4
months or year you’re in treatment. It happens over time, and it requires a willingness to
continue questioning (kindly, and without judgment) all the things you thought were true
about yourself, and the world, that led to or sustained your eating disorder. The gift of
looking deeply, honestly, and over time at yourself and your behaviors is the gift of true
understanding and, ultimately, forgiveness.

--The size of a life isn’t inversely proportional to the size of a body (i.e. my life did not
feel larger and richer the smaller I got, as I thought it would) but grows in proportion
to how well we nourish the self. Allowing myself to become fully functioning, curious,
authentic, creative, interested in the outside world, flexible, and open-minded is what
grew—and continues to grow—and expand my life.

--A sense of humor goes a long, long, long, long way. Try to have one about yourself.

--Forgive yourself for whatever it is you are not. Forgive yourself for whatever it is
you can’t do. Forgive yourself for all the ways you believe you have failed. Everybody
fails. Tons of people are failing right now, at something. True freedom comes when you
understand this, and let yourself off the hook.

Dana Lise Shavin is the author of The Body Tourist (Little Feather Books, 2014), a raw,
candid, at times comical look at the six years following her “recovery” from anorexia
nervosa. Her website is

You can find Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight on Amazon (as a paperback and Kindle) and at