Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ending the War With Our Bodies: Free Public Panel Discussion


Sat, January 31, 2015, 12:00pm – 1:30pm


Vancouver Public Library - Central Branch, 350 West Georgia St., Vancouver
Alma VanDusen and Peter Kaye rooms, Lower Level


Free panel discussion in recognition of Eating Disorders Awareness Month presented in partnership with Vancouver Public Library featuring insight from a number of individuals:

Join our Facebook event page!

photo by Janis Dalgleish

Carmen Saucier

Carmen Saucier has been an active member with PEDAW since January 2014. Her passion for exuding a positive body image was formed after finding recovery from her own eating disorder. She is currently a student at Simon Fraser University, and part time gymnastics coach.


CaraLynne McLean

CaraLynne McLean is a Registered Clinical Counsellor with a B.A. from Queen’s University and Master’s Degree from the Adler School of Professional Psychology. She holds contracts with Vancouver Coastal Health and Family Services of the North Shore, runs a private practice based in North Vancouver specializing in the treatment and prevention of eating disorders, and is a member of the  North Shore Education Committee for the Prevention of Eating Disorders.

Caitlin O’Reilly

Caitlin O’Reilly holds degrees in social work and public policy and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia. O’Reilly has developed an academic and professional career focused on mental health, weight stigma and eating disorders. Her current research priorities are in eating disorders treatment and reducing weight stigma in health care.

Helen Yeung

Helen Yeung is a Public Health Dietitian with Vancouver Coastal Health. She holds a Master’s degree in public health nutrition, is a clinical instructor in the UBC Dietetics Program, and is part of the North Shore Education Committee for the Prevention of Disordered Eating.  Yeung helps promote healthy eating with children, youth, their families, and communities.
photo by Bonny Makarewicz

Victoria Maxwell

Victoria Maxwell, moderator for the panel, holds a BFA degree and is a self-proclaimed Bipolar Princess (BPP). For over 14 years, Maxwell has presented performances and workshops across Canada and the United States. She is a researcher with the international Collaborative Research Team on Bipolar Disorder, blogger for Psychology Today and is passionate about speaking on the lived experience of mental illness, recovery and dismantling the stigma of psychiatric disorder.

Monday, November 3, 2014

PEDAW Wristband Challenge!

It's that time of year again!  The Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness (PEDAW) campaign is busy preparing for February (that's right, February!) which includes                                                EATING DISORDERS AWARENESS WEEK!  
And guess what? We need YOUR help to spread awareness about eating disorders by taking an active role and snapping creative pictures with our 'love our bodies, love ourselves' wristbands!  Wearing our wristbands is a constant reminder to accept your body just as it is and support those who are struggling.

See details in the poster below, or click here to download:  http://bit.ly/1ujtA4Q

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Client Experiences of Transitioning from Adolescent to Adult Mental Health Services while Battling Anorexia Nervosa: A Thesis Research

Transitioning to adulthood is a unique time for many people. That age between 18-25 is an in-between – not a dependent adolescent, yet maybe not always a fully independent adult either.

There are so many things going on at this time of transition, all at the same time, and everything is different for everyone – there’s really nothing that’s “normal”. That transition period for emerging adults who are battling eating disorders can sometimes, but not always, be even more difficult. For people with eating disorders who are accessing services from our health care system this time may also mean a change in service providers (like counsellors, psychiatrists, nutritionists, etc.) which is an added stress. And with all the other change going on, maybe stability might be more beneficial.

In B.C., eating disorders services change from child and youth to adult at age eighteen. Also at eighteen people are facing changes in multiple areas – like school (high school to university/college), employment (maybe moving from part-time to full-time work), living arrangements (sometimes moving away from home), and so on. Finding new services during this time can be difficult and there can be waitlists and service disruption – all of which can make it difficult to even bother continuing with services at all.

There isn’t much research on this topic, especially for eating disorders, especially about how it is for the people who are going through these transitions. The goal of my study is to explore the impact that transitioning from child and youth mental health services to adult mental health services has on people battling anorexia nervosa in our province. I’m hoping to gain an understanding of the experience of being an emerging adult, navigating a complex mental health system, and all the while fighting an eating disorder.

I think it’s important to understand the contextual factors of emerging adulthood (all those changes) and how they are impacting the transition as well. To look at this transition holistically is to take into account all the effects that could be going on. I hope to find out what helps and hinders transitions to continuing clinical care. Lastly my study intends to explore how people using the services would dream up an ideal experience of transition that is more needs-led (individualized) and not service-led (generalized).

I am still looking for participants to help me with this study and share their stories. Your insight may help others who have yet to go through this experience. My hope is this research can be used to inform services and professionals to effectively support people battling eating disorders.

If you, or someone you know, may be interested in participating please email carrier@sfu.ca

Carrie Bove is a third year Counselling Psychology graduate student at Simon Fraser University. Upon completion of her degree she hopes to continue to work as a counsellor in eating disorders services or substance use services. She enjoys music and photography and hopes to integrate these passions into her practice. Travelling is also on her “to do” list.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Win Tickets to EDAC's Pre-Conference!

The Provincial Eating DisordersAwareness (PEDAW) campaign is giving away tickets to THREE lucky winners to attend the Eating Disorders Public Forum, “‘How to get from, ‘I’m, like, SO fat’ to ‘I’m okay’ in a Weight-Obsessed World,” featuring eating disorder expert and author Dianne Neumark-Sztainer!

Details for the event:
DATE:  Sunday, October 5, 2014
TIME:   6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Reception and art exhibit
             7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Speaker
COST:  $15.00 (includes admission and refreshments)
PLACE:  Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown Hotel
             1128 West Hastings Street

Here’s how you can enter to win:
Leave a comment below on our Love Our Bodies, Love Ourselves blog and answer the question, “How do you stay strong in a weight-obsessed world?”

We will draw three winners at random from all entries at 12:00am on Sunday, September 21st, 2014.

See edacpedaw.eventbrite.ca for more information or checkout the event poster for details below: 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Love quotes?

                                    Hello everybody!

The Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness (PEDAW) campaign is looking for your TOP THREE positive quotes about body image, self-esteem, eating disorders recovery, prevention, awareness, and general feel-good inspirational quotes! 

These quotes will be made into an artistic creation by our talented PEDAW poster artist, Gillian! 

So if you'd like to participate and contribute your some of your favorite quotes, please click the link here:  http://bit.ly/1nVpZkl

Monday, July 7, 2014

PEDAW Mural Contest: WINNERS!

As you may know, we recently partnered with the Vancouver Graffiti Management Team to hold unique PEDAW Mural Contest inviting BC amateur artists to paint or draw 2 dimensional artwork that reflects the question:

“What does ‘love our bodies, love ourselves’ mean to you?”  

The purpose of this contest is to brighten up the streets of Vancouver by showing everyone we can ‘love our bodies, love ourselves’ and promote positive body image through public art!  

June 30th was the entry deadline, and we thank-you all for entering our contest! Out of the many amazing submissions we’ve received and with several debates amongst the PEDAW Committee members, the committee found these as our TOP THREE:


•Your art painted on a container mural in Vancouver by a professional lead artist!
•An invitation to paint with the lead artist!
•Original artwork displayed at the 2014 Eating Disorders Association of Canada (EDAC) Conference in Vancouver on Monday, October 6th and Tuesday, October 7th, 2014!
•Free admission to EDAC Pre-Conference happening Sunday, October 5th, 2014

•Original artwork displayed at the 2014 Eating Disorders Association of Canada (EDAC) Conference in Vancouver on Monday, October 6th and Tuesday, October 7th, 2014!
•Free admission to EDAC Pre-Conference on Sunday, October 5th, 2014!


•Original artwork displayed at the 2014 Eating Disorders Association of Canada (EDAC) Conference in Vancouver on Monday, October 6th and Tuesday, October 7th, 2014!
•Free admission to EDAC Pre-Conference on Sunday, October 5th, 2014!

Please let me offer you a much deserved congratulations on winning our PEDAW Mural Contest!

I am sending off the images of your artwork to the City of Vancouver who is currently in the process of confirming details of the mural space.

We truly appreciate everyone's enthusiasm to help us bring awareness of body image and eating disorsders. This is such an important topic and your active role and support helped start meaningful, preventative, and engaging discussions around eating disorders, so for that, thank-you.

Amy Pezzente
PEDAW Coordinator

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Balancing Our Minds Youth Summit: If I had a Younger Sibling in Highschool

Check out the speech I did at the Balancing Our Minds 2014: Tools for Youth Wellness!  This was an event organized by BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services in partnership with the Vancouver Canucks. It was a free, one-day workshop for high school age youth in BC to learn about mental health and engage in fun activities and thoughtful dialogue.

Balancing Our Minds 2014: Tools for Youth Wellness will be hosted at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, and was attended by approximately 1,500 youth, teachers and parents from across the province!

Here is my presentation titled, "If I had a younger sibling in highschool...." which tells some of my personal struggle with an eating disorder, how I am today, and the things I would say if I had a younger sibling in highschool.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Guest Post: Losing Mia/Ana, Finding Me/Allie

The relationship status on my Facebook profile would most accurately read “in a relationship with recovery, and it’s complicated”. At a certain point fifteen years ago, I made a commitment to myself that I would live, because in those darker times, that seemed the very best I could hope for. Since then, I have learned living is just the beginning, that there is also room to blossom and thrive.  I lost important pieces of me, and recovery is the ongoing, difficult, but ultimately necessary process of setting intentions to reclaim them. After losing Mia and Ana, I needed to find me (Allie).

Finding my why was the first step. I attended a workshop on care planning for people with disabilities, and the message was that if you want to support someone to do something that is important for them, they need to be able to connect it to why it is important to them. It was important for me to get better. To do so, I had to remind myself regularly why it is important to me. That reason changed over time. In the beginning, it was about going to college and falling in love one day. Later, it was about maintaining my career and participating in my marriage.  These days, it’s about being a healthy single parent and setting a good example for my young son about loving oneself. Visual reminders can be helpful, like a photograph in a prominent location, a word on a whiteboard, whatever cue that is meaningful to keep that reason handy if you need to shine a light on your path. When setting out on a journey, it is easier to plan how you will get there if you have an understanding of why you are going in the first place.

Something that fuelled me on my journey was the creation of new rituals. Self-destructive behaviour can be habitual, finding new things to replace those patterns of behaviour was important in order to develop a sustainable plan.  Reclaiming my life was a big undertaking, but building these rituals were the baby steps I needed to be able to run one day.  A cup of herbal tea and a bubble bath before bed every night might not seem like much to the casual observer, but in recovery, they are part of a strategy to manage stress in a healthy way and new rituals that form the foundation of a new life. 

Learning to self-soothe is a big part of stress management. I remember thinking “How do I make myself feel better now?” Eating disorders can be mal-adaptive coping strategies. Change can bring unpleasant feelings or even numbness. Feeling good can seem a long way off. Consider it part of the mission to find the things that make the body feel good. Maybe it’s the peace of yoga, the power of strength training, sand between toes at the beach, the creativity and beauty of dance or the healing touch of massage.  I had to find the things that make my heart sing and add them to my “feeling better” toolkit to be well equipped for the rainiest of days.

 I found my why, lovingly selected rituals to adorn my new life, and discovered ways to make my body feel good again. These are key strategies to support my recovery that I re-evaluate on a regular basis.  My relationship with recovery might be complicated, and it is not an easy road, but it is what I need to blossom, thrive and live. It is through this commitment that I have been able to lose Mia and Ana, and find me (Allie). 

Author bio:
My name is Alison Tedford. I was Anorexic and Bulimic for five years and have been in recovery for fifteen years. I am a single mom, a data analyst and a pole fitness instructor. I write about my passions on my personal blog (www.sparklyshoesandsweatdrops.blogspot.ca).

Monday, June 2, 2014

Guest Post: 5 Tools For Re-Building Body Trust, by Ali Washington

In my counseling I have noticed that there is a huge epidemic of people who are struggling with being out of tune and out of touch with their bodies. What I mean by this is that I notice that it is very common for people to have no idea what their bodies are asking them for in terms of food, exercise, rest, play and don’t know how to tune into the storehouse of knowledge that their body contains. This is as common in people who have had eating disorders as it is with those who have not. Most of us grow up never being taught how to listen to our bodies.

Here are some common symptoms of body disconnection I have witnessed both in myself, and in those with whom I have worked:

   The feeling that your body constantly “craves” foods that are seemingly unhealthy.
   Feeling that your that your body is working against you, either in that it is not the size or shape you want it to be, or that it cannot perform the tasks you would like it to.
   Having trouble regulating your eating or sleeping cycles.
   Not having the ability to tap into your body awareness to let you know if a situation is right for you or not.
   Having difficulty finding a lifestyle that works for you, and are constantly jumping from one diet to another.

These are all basically signs that you have fallen out of trust and out of sync with your body. When you are in sync with your body finding a diet and lifestyle that really works for you, and ability to love and respect your body will all become much easier. So if you are feeling that you have lost touch with your body, I have 5 tools for you to start using today to help bring you back in touch with your most precious gift here on earth.

1.  Rest When You Are Tired: This is my number one tool for re-establishing a loving connection with your body because rest is often not as emotionally charged as changing your eating habits, but is still vital to your health and wellbeing. It is also a way to demonstrate to yourself that you honor your need for nourishment. Rest can be incredibly nourishing and by taking the time to rest when you need rest you are communicating to yourself and to your body that you value you. If you are used to pushing yourself to within and inch of your breaking point, or past your breaking point before you rest, this tip is for you. This does not mean that you have to take a 3 hour nap every time you are sleepy. A quick fifteen minute break where you close your eyes, do something you enjoy doing that does not require a tone of focus like reading a light book, or just sitting and breathing at your desk all count and will all start to bridge the gap between you and your body.

2.   Notice How You Feel Before, During, and After a Meal: It can be so helpful to cultivate awareness around your eating, without the intention of changing anything about the way that you are eating. Simply by taking a moment or two to notice how you are feeling before you eat, noticing how you are feeling during your meal, and then again taking pause after your meal to take note of how you are feeling will begin to set a pattern where you actively check in with your body 2-3 times a day. (or more if you are a snacker :) ) This regular checking in will again start to build that bond and that recognition of signals from your body to your mind and spirit and because eating is something you do several times a day it will be easy to set this new pattern. You may also notice that you start to crave different foods as you progress with this practice, or notice that there are correlations to how you are feeling before you eat and what you choose to eat, or how that food digests.

3.  Journal For 5 Minutes Every Day: Journaling is seriously one of the best tools you have when it comes to connecting with yourself. I recommend that you sit with a pen or pencil and paper at night before you go to bed, and write without lifting your writing tool off of the paper for 5 minutes straight. This is called stream of consciousness writing, and it is very helpful in cases where you are feeling disconnected from yourself. In this practice, if you do it repeatedly you may find that you uncover unconscious thought patterns that are keeping you from being able to trust your body. By bringing them to light in this way you will be better able to move past and heal those thoughts.

4.  Connect Patterns In Life With Eating Patters: This tip is a little more on the advanced side, but it can be very useful if you are ready to do some deeper work. The way I recommend you set this up is in a journal create 3 Columbus like this:

              Situation        How I felt After The Situation        My Food Cravings After

In the Situation column list anything that was emotionally charged for you that day. This could be a stressful meeting with your boss, an exam at school, or a fight with your boyfriend. You may also want to note situations that were more positive like getting a promotion or acing an exam. In the How I Felt After The Situation column record how the emotionally charged situation made you feel, for instance maybe the meeting with your boss made you feel scared and insecure, perhaps your test made you feel inadequate, and maybe the promotion made you feel elated and proud of yourself. Finally, list any food cravings or food related associations that came about after your event in the My Food Cravings After column. Perhaps you will notice that you always want some chocolate after situations that make you feel small and powerless, or that you always crave wine when you accomplish something.  You may also note that certain situations and emotional states make you feel like avoiding food, and that should also be noted. Again this is not necessarily about changing anything, just about cultivating awareness and connection.

5.  Ditch Killer Workouts and Go For Fun: This is my last and favorite tip in the area of becoming more connected with your body, because it is the one that really turned things around for me. The right kind of workout can help boost your mood, help you to think through things that may be going on in your life, and help you to discover the joy of your body through movement. The wrong kind of workout can make you feel depressed, tired and out of connection. I used to push myself through rigorous workouts every day because I thought that is what I needed to do if I wanted to be lean, toned and healthy. But the truth was that I hated these workouts, they stressed me out, stressed my body out, did not deliver to me the body that I wanted and ultimately left me feeling more disconnected from my body than connected to it. When I finally started to honor the fact that I wanted to do more gentle workouts like yoga, dance and pilates I was able to find joy in movement again, and I was able to develop a deeper trust that my body knew what it wanted, and if I was to listen I felt a lot better. And as a bonus I actually began to see favorable changes in the way my body looked and felt.  I am not saying you should give up marathon training or serious weight workouts at the gym if you love doing those things, the key is to do what you love, and only what you love.

I really hope that this article has given you some practical tools you can use in your life to re-establish a deep and loving connection with your body. It is there for you as a gift and a tool and should make you feel good.

About Ali:
Ali Washington is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Yoga Instructor, Trained Life Coach, Reiki Master and author of The Perception Diet. http://perceptiondiet.com/ She has fully healed herself from anorexia, which she dealt with for about 10 years, and now has dedicated her life to assisting those who are still struggling in finding freedom. She fully believes that there is life after an ED, and she hopes that through her words or through her one on one coaching she can help support as many recovery success stories as she can. You can reach her on her facebook page www.facebook.com/perceptiontrainers or through e-mail at unitycoaching(at)gmail.com

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Reblogged: Happy International No Diet Day!

Reblogged from our friends at the National Eating Disorders Information Centre (NEDIC). For more information about NEDIC and the wonderful work they do, go to www.nedic.ca .

May 6: Celebrate International 

No Diet Day!

Billions of dollars are spent every year on the latest diet programs, diet pills and diet books, yet most dieters regain all of, if not more of their weight within one to five years . On May 6th, International No Diet Day, the National Eating Disorder Information Centre is encouraging Canadians to break free of dieting with four alternatives that will help lead to a healthier outlook and relationship with food and with oneself.
“Many people go on a diet to lose weight in order to gain acceptance,” says Merryl Bear, Director of NEDIC. “They believe that thinness is the recipe for health and happiness.”
Children are watching and modeling this behaviour. In fact, 30 percent of girls and 24 percent of boys between 10 and 14 years old have been on a diet, despite being within a healthy weight range. 
“Dieting has become a rite of passage for girls as young as 8 years old,” continues Merryl. “This is concerning, because dieting can be a precursor to developing an eating disorder. We need to break this cycle and teach our children to respect and appreciate the diversity of body shapes and sizes, including their own.”
Instead, NEDIC promotes Health At Every Size (HAES). The HAES model emphasizes size and self-acceptance, as well as healthy day-to-day behaviours, without focusing on weight.
To help break these detrimental dieting deeds, Registered Dietitian Kori Kostka offers these four alternatives:

  1. Tap Into Your Own Intuition – As babies, we cried when we were hungry and stopped eating when we felt full. Most of us were taught from a young age to eat what was on our plate and not to nourish our tastes and needs. Re-becoming intuitive can take time to rebuild trust with food and your body, but it is possible!
  2. Be Mindful When Eating – Don’t eat in front of the TV. Chew thoroughly and enjoy the taste of your food. Listen to your internal cues of hunger and fullness and allow your body to guide your food choices.
  3. Recognize and Respect Your Set Point – Your body has its own natural set point - the weight it naturally wants to be in order to be healthy. Gaining and losing weight can wreak havoc on your natural set point. This cycle of yo-yo dieting confuses the body and the brain between binging and starving.
  4. Measures of Health and Happiness – The number on the scale does not determine how healthy you are. Wellbeing can be measured in other ways. Laughter, learning, rest, play, reflection, socializing, volunteerism, these are just some of the other ways that people can begin to feel good about themselves and their bodies.

“The body is built to store and survive, not lose,” Kostka says. “When you diet, you starve yourself of energy, nutrients, as well as pleasure. That’s no way to live.”
Instead, Kostka suggests, “Balance eating for health and eating for enjoyment, while rediscovering the joy of physical activity.”
If someone you know is a frequent dieter, he or she may have an unhealthy preoccupation with food and weight, and may need help. Encourage them to celebrate International No Diet Day on May 6th!

Monday, April 14, 2014


You’re invited to participate in our 

Brought to you by the Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness (PEDAW) campaign together with the Vancouver Graffiti Management Team

This unique contest invites BC amateur artists to paint or draw 2 dimensional artwork that reflects the question: “What does ‘love our bodies, love ourselves’ mean to you?”


PURPOSE: To brighten up the streets of Vancouver by showing everyone we can ‘love our bodies, love ourselves’ and promote positive body image through public art!

WHO CAN ENTER: Amateur artists of all ages across BC.

1st Place:
•Your art painted on a container mural in Vancouver by a professional lead artist
•An invitation to paint with the lead artist
•Original artwork displayed at the 2014 Eating Disorders Association of Canada (EDAC) Conference in Vancouver
•Free admission to EDAC Pre-conference, October 5th
2nd & 3rd:
•Original artwork displayed at the 2014 Eating Disorders Association of Canada (EDAC) Conference in Vancouver
•Free admission to EDAC Pre-conference, October 5th

SUBMISSIONS: Submit photos of your 2D artwork to pedaw@familyservices.bc.ca by June 30th, 2014, 12:00am PST. Maximum 3 images per person.
Optional: A 100-200 word written description of how your art relates to the theme.

JUDGING: Determined by votes from the PEDAW committee.

WINNERS ANNOUNCED: Winning entries will be posted on our blog July 7th, 2014.

PAINTING PROCESS: Our professional lead artist will replicate, taking theme and design concepts, from the winner’s piece onto a container in the City of Vancouver. Painting will take place Summer 2014 along with youth from the community!

MORE INFO: pedaw@familyservices.bc.ca

HURRY! Submit artwork to: 
by June 30, 2014!
*Mural in image painted by artist Karen Chan

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What is the Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness (PEDAW) campaign? A video

Have questions about the Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness (PEDAW) campaign? Then look no further! We recently created this video to help explain who we are, what we do, where we do it, and why! 

Creating this video not only allows more people to recognize who PEDAW is, but it also brings the Province of B.C.’s attention closer to eating disorder prevention and awareness, including getting involved in their own respective communities with PEDAW events and activities! 

Eating disorders are still an ongoing issue, and this video brings us one step closer to preventing the mental illness.

Check it out below!  Enjoy!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Remember to Love Yourself because "You Are Enough"

Remember to Love Yourself because "You Are Enough" 
By Amy Gill (Outreach Lead) & SFU Health Peers

As students we are constantly pushing our limits yet we still feel that we are not doing enough. The goal of the outreach organized and hosted by the SFU Health Peers at the Simon Fraser University (SFU) Burnaby campus was to raise awareness about the fact that as students, we must set our own values regarding success and happiness rather than try to achieve unattainable preconceived notions of what it means to be an efficacious student and individual. The outreach focused on the phrase “you are enough”. Many students asked what we meant by this phrase and we explained that true contentment comes from self-acceptance and appreciation. It is difficult to be happy with yourself if you constantly feel that you are not enough. That is why it is important to set your own realistic standards for success, which in most cases will lead to a greater sentiment of self-worth.

The Health Peers got students to write down something that they loved about themselves on post-it notes which were displayed for other students to see. With the post-its, the Health Peers noticed that students had to stop and reflect on what they loved and appreciated most about themselves. This process matched with writing it down seemed to have a powerful impact on the students who participated. There were some great responses from students. Some students focused on their personality traits and wrote down phrases such as, “I love my creativity” and “I love my work ethic”. Other students thought about the question on a deeper level and came up with phrases such as, “I love that I have stayed true to myself despite how people have judged me in the past” and “I love that I can overcome challenges and feel great at the end of the day”.

The students were also asked to sign a “Love Yourself” pledge. There were two pledges available and the students were more than welcome to sign whichever one they felt was most applicable to them. With the pledge, the Health Peers tried to reinforce the notion of self-love. By signing the pledge and taking it home, the students will constantly be reminded of the promise that they have made to themselves about loving and accepting their body, personality and abilities.

Towards the end of the event, the Health Peers decided to walk around the halls and hand out “Love Yourself” bracelets while telling the students “You are enough” and to “Remember to love yourself”. This was a huge success. Many of the students left with smiles on their faces. Some students told the Health Peers that they really needed to hear a positive phrase as they approach final exam time. Moving forward, in the future, the Health Peers hope to continue on with this outreach annually to help raise awareness about self-worth, self-love and accepting that we (the students) are enough.

About the Peer Health Educators:
The Peer Health Educators work within SFU Health and Counselling Services and under the supervision of SFU Health Promotion. The purpose of the Peer Health Educators is to promote well-being amongst SFU students through numerous outreaches that are held on campus. The organized outreaches focus on various dimensions of health and well-being such as sexual health, de-stressing, active living, social connectedness, nutritious eating and responsible partying.

To find out more about the peer health educators, visit: http://www.sfu.ca/students/health/volunteer/health-peers.html


Monday, March 24, 2014

From Survive to Thrive Guide

Why did I take on the project of creating a Guide for recovering from an eating disorder? And why did I want it written by those with lived experience? Because I know from personal experience that there are some pieces to an eating disorder that cannot be explained. There is an overwhelming sense of comfort and ease knowing that someone else out there has gone through the same struggle.

With over 200 responses from people who have struggled with body image and eating issues themselves, this Guide provides an abundance of insight and advice to those who are currently struggling with an eating disorder. In a sense, this Guide remembers what it was like to think that everything depends on weight and appearance. This Guide remembers what it was like to feel you could never be smart, attractive, or interesting enough. This Guide remembers what it was like to watch your friends and family feel completely powerless in how to help.

But more importantly, this Guide knows what it’s like to recover.

It can help you find a will to change, help build up a strong sense of self with a new, healthy way of coping that does not involve an eating disorder. By reading this, I want readers to feel empowered, confident, and understood.

You are not alone.


Here's a sneak peak of what you'll find inside the Guide! 
Available for FREE online here: http://bit.ly/1ehXnBO
***Also available in ebook format on iTunes and Indigo books!***

Monday, March 17, 2014

Reflection on my PEDAW Clothing Drive, by Julie Sweeney

My experience with the PEDAW clothing drive was fantastic. Even while shlepping bag after bag after bag into the building where the charity was, I felt joy. Running around collecting bags and bags of clothing from various VIBES FITNESS locations and then taking them to WEAR 2 START was the highlight of my week - a couple of times. There was so much donated that I had to make 3 trips! People were generous and willing to participate. The wonderful owners at each VIBES FITNESS location took in the clothes from their members, but they also wanted education on what PEDAW is and about the charity I chose to make the donation to. I was encouraged by both their willingness to help with the clothing drive and their desire to learn more about both PEDAW and WEAR 2 START.
I felt led to get the word out and to have a clothing drive because so many people keep clothing "just in case". Just in case they lose weight and finally reach their elusive "goal weight," or clothes that are too big for fear motivation. Having a closet or drawer full of clothing that doesn't fit just serves as a reminder that you are not worthy. You are not worthy dressing your body as is, right in this very moment. Clothing that serves no purpose other than to frustrate you has to go to a better home. 

This clothing drive also had a personal meaning to me. I spent many years prior to my own recovery with the desire for a leather jacket. I would tell myself when I hit a certain size that I would allow myself to buy a cute black leather jacket. This went on for many years. Now that I'm secure in my body and who I am, yet no different in size than all those years I waited, I have a RED leather jacket and 2 fabulous pleather jackets which I love just as much! 

There is no more waiting for the "perfect" size or weight. You deserve to be comfortable and feel your best every day - not a certain number of pounds from now.  There is only today. Today is what matters, and you are beautiful. 

Insight to Action Counselling Services
(250) 889-3444

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Emotion Focused Family Therapy for Eating Disorders (EFFT), by Natasha Files

Emotion Focused Family Therapy for Eating Disorders (EFFT)
EFFT seems to be the new buzzword in the BC eating disorders field, but let me assure you it is more than a trend. Initially hearing about it at the 2013 NEDIC conference, something about Dr. Adele Lafrance Robinson’s presentation caught my heart. Any therapy that believes in the healing power of parents as monumental for change wins my vote.

Developed as an adjunct to care and specifically for treatment resistant cases, EFFT views low self-efficacy and emotion avoidance as foundational culprits in the development and ongoing struggle with eating disorders. As presented in the below example, eating disorder symptoms are maintained as an attempt to quiet emotion, and individuals who lack the ability to fully express and have their emotional needs met, will continuously find themselves in a state of overwhelm. 

Imagine functioning in the realm of extreme emotion. Feeling another’s sadness, anger, fear or shame before they even express it. Believing you need to be the one to reduce the burden because tolerating it feels like too much. Each time someone looks at you the wrong way means they are thinking the worst – not to mention your whole existence is wrong; therefore, your actions are driven with a desire to avoid further shame. The sub-theme to your existence is about repaying a debt to humanity.

Now, imagine finding a way to dull that emotional intensity. Realizing that you can trade the discomfort and cocoon yourself behind a protective layer – much like the quieting of a busy city during the peaceful dark of a snowy night. You know the chaos still exists, but have found a refuge that feels unfaltering. Even if for a moment, hiding in this place promises a form of relief.

Then, imagine everyone in your life franticly demanding you come out from behind that protective fortress. People insisting your hiding space is bad. That you must stop, and change, and shatter the very thing that has promised you escape…

How do you convince someone to give up the one thing that helps them feel safe?
The short answer: you don’t. The long answer: you help them find a new definition for safety.

Super-feelers are highly sensitive to the emotions of others’, have an extreme degree of emotion perception, and experience their own emotions very intensely. Combine super-feeler status with the various known contributors to the development of eating disorders (genetics, cultural, social, life stressors, coping style) and you have the perfect storm. No wonder eating disorders develop.

Viewing the eating disorder as an adaptive way to manage emotion has transformed my clinical practice. I increasingly find myself saying, “that makes so much sense!” and no longer struggle to outwit or outsmart a seemingly relentless opponent.

This model values individuals as doing their absolute best, and challenges a deeper look whenever motivation is in question. Your child adamantly demands you stay out of her care? I can almost guarantee that she is really saying “I desperately want you involved, but am so worried it won’t go well, so I feel safer pushing you away.” Your client is convinced she is not ready to recover? I wonder if she is really admitting, “I am so scared and don’t know how to do this.”

The Role of Carers
So where do carers come in? EFFT teaches carers (any loved one who is in a caregiving role) to become their loved ones recovery coach and emotion coach, invites family members to participate in relationship repair, as well as offers an opportunity for carers to work through their own fears related to offering support.

Previously avoiding the word good in any therapeutic conversation, I have recently found myself saying good and very good more regularly. Why? Because each time we uncover the fear behind a behaviour – also known as speaking the unspoken – we have found a clue:

If I give her too much support she may never become independent.
Now we understand why you are not loving this approach. Good. We can work through that.

If I make her eat she may run away or kill herself.
 So now we know why you freeze each time she complains about meal support. Good. We can work through that.

Anyone can be taken hostage by emotion, especially fear, and EFFT invites carers (and therapists) to work through their fears in order to become more grounded in the recovery process. EFFT views care as “going back to get on track” and highly values a carers ability to soothe their child. How much more are we able to soothe when we don’t have the devil whispering core fears in our ear?

Recovery Coaching
Family members are taught how to support re-feeding and symptom interruption. Strategies for various situations are taught and practiced (including meal supervision, coaching phrases, asking direct questions, and even how to support someone through text message).

Emotion Coaching
Family members are also taught skills to support the processing of emotion, specifically around targeting bodily felt sense, emotional needs, and action tendencies.

Feels- heavy and slow
Needs- comfort
Action Tendency- reach out for a hug

Each emotion has a need, and it is by experiencing the full follow through of emotion that individuals come to rely less on the eating disorder symptoms. Emotion coaching supports the child to internalize emotion regulation skills and helps re-shape their experience of previously overwhelming feelings. It also enhances relationships.

Where to go from here?
EFFT balances empathy and compassion with firm limits that support symptom interruption, behavioural change, and an overall transformative experience of emotion. With preliminary data showing significant positive changes, this approach offers carers tangible skills in order to fully engage in and support their child’s recovery process.

1) Pay attention to how you and your child express and process emotion. Does it always feel safe to “go there”? Do you find yourself walking on eggshells for fear of something “worse” happening?

3) Consider attending the EFFT Carers Workshops in April. Carers, as well as clinicians (as observers) are invited to register:

About Natasha:
Natasha Files, MSW, RSW
Natasha holds a Master of Social Work (Clinical Specialization) from the University of Calgary, is a Registered Social Worker, and has specialized training in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Narrative Therapy, and more recently, Emotion Focused Family Therapy. Currently working in private practice, as well as being the Transitional Care Coordinator and an Individual and Family Therapist at Woodstone Residence, Natasha is passionate about facilitating a therapeutic experience that is both tangible and sustainable. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dear Anorexia, by Kim Ratcliffe

September 8, 1998

I have come a long way since the first day we met. I don't need you nearly as much as I did before, and that's a good thing. For so long I have hated you, and now the hate has lessened. I think I am beginning to understand you and why I needed you so much. I also feel that we are both trying to trust each other and believe me I know how difficult that is. That "TRUST" word does not come easily to me or should I say it didn't come easily to me. I am beginning to see that you can trust people in this world, have relationships where people don't abandon me, or leave me. I don't want you to be a part of my life anymore, but I don't know if that is possible. I will have to deal with that. I realize that for the past 20 years I really needed you. You never left me, you made me feel safe, I could always count on you, you gave me power and control when I needed it, but you did this in a very DESTRUCTIVE AND HARMFUL way to me. That's where the anger comes in and why I hated you so much. The arguments we would have in my head nearly killed me. I could no longer take them which is why I got help!! You made me do things that are DISGUSTING like, abuse laxatives, loose a lot of weight, lie to everyone (including myself, be secretive, isolate from everyone (and the one that hurts the most from isolation is my kids, they never had a mother for a long time), I was always angry and hungry, you made me starve myself, you made me have medical conditions from the eating disorder (some I still have), I felt worthless, had no self-esteem, and my recovery has been one of the most hardest things in my life to go through. I nearly lost everything because of you, including my life!! How could you do this to someone? ME or ANYONE for that matter. You take lives away and don't even care because you are still out there grabbing on to someone else. YOU should be ASHAMED of yourself, not "us" feeling guilt and shame.

I was 16 when you came into my life, you had no right to! I was just a kid! Now, for the past 20 years of my life, I have done nothing but live with you, fight with you, and not even know who I am. You have taken 20 years of my life, and I had no choice about it. Now, for the past 4 years, I have been trying to get rid of you, so you can't hurt me anymore, (I have had enough hurt in my lifetime.) I would like to do this in a positive way, not a destructive way like you did. I can't say I forgive you completely, but I am trying to understand you and why I still need you at times. I am NOT a bad person (like you said I was), and if you would only let yourself see that, along with all the wonderful people I have met thru my recovery process. They really do care about ME, not what I look like or how much I weigh. It's "ME" they care about. The INSIDE stuff. And do you know what a wonderful feeling that is, to have someone care about me, for ME. I don't have to be THIN to be LOVED!! I don't need your protection anymore, nor, do I have to pretend to be someone else. I know in the 20 years you have been around, that through that time, I needed you to protect me, let me feel safe and worthy of myself, but I don't need that anymore from you. I can protect myself (in a healthy way), and I am beginning to love myself and find out who I am. I know I will continue NOT to need you as much, because even when you do come back in my life for a while, you don't stay around long enough to do any damage, a choice that is mine!! I won't give back to you all the hard work I have done in letting fo of you. You can't have it. It's mine. I guess this letter is GOOD-BYE!! Please leave me alone, I don't need you anymore or want you in my life! You have hurt me 20 years too much. This is now my life, not yours! One I have worked VERY HARD to build. I deserve a happy, healthy, ANOREXIA FREE LIFE!!

When I began writing this, I had no idea it would turn out to be a good-bye letter, but it did, and it was much needed for me to do.  I can see that now. I have done a lot of healing from writing this, one that's been a long time coming!!

For more information, please visit:

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Heart of the Matter, by Deborah Grimm

She leaned in eyes wild and body tense. “Tell me,” she said, her halting words revealing the desperation within. “Tell me what I need to do to prevent my child from having an eating disorder?”

Having met with so many mothers this was not an unfamiliar question. I sighed, for I knew how badly she wanted the “golden nugget” that was at the heart of the matter. Those magic words that would save her child from a life threatening experience.

She wanted to be a knowledgeable mother.
She wanted to be an informed mother.
She wanted to be any mother, other than me.

My daughter, despite my best efforts, had found herself lost in the grip of an eating disorder so, oddly, that made me an expert in how NOT to create one.

“Well,” I began and she sat straighter in her chair, “the first things to know would be the facts.”

“The facts. Yes,” she replied, scribbling notes on a mental note pad.

“The tell tale signs of skipped meals, oversized clothes, anxious outbreaks and isolated afternoons.
Of sunken cheeks and glazed over eyes.
The fact that there is a genetic predisposition.” At this she flinched much as I knew she would.

And then the truth came next.

“I don't know exactly how to prevent an eating disorder but I have some ideas. You ready?”

She nodded yes.

“An eating disorder is not a choice, but rather a coping mechanism that seeks to manage a hideous inner dialogue with a fella named Ed. A dialogue that promises wonders, but delivers only broken dreams and heartache.

It is a mental illness. It is not a whim or a phase ones goes through. It is most definitely not just an attempt to get attention.

And prevention? Well I have big ideas on that.

To me it means that, as a culture, we would need to create a dialogue of understanding. To tease out the truth from the fiction and fear about one another. To raise our young men to bear witness to beauty that comes from within and young women to know that they are perfectly imperfect, just like the rest of the human race. That magazines are just magazines and the players in them, well, they have been played because in reality they are meant to be background to the clothing rather than the main event. We need to ask who you are rather than what. To hold the space for hurt and sadness and joy for each other and to learn how to sit in the emotion of all of it.”

I watched as she absorbed what I had said, coming to terms that there wasn’t an easy solution.

"And that ~ that’s what might help us get to the heart of the matter."

Friday, February 28, 2014

3 Tools that will Change Your Life, by Erin Treloar

We live in a world that enforces a message into every aspect of our being that we are not enough. We see it on the television, we read it in magazines, we live amongst stereotypes and have deeply embedded belief systems that strengthen the message. Sometimes the message can be helpful as it pushes us to reach our greatest potential but in other aspects of our life it can be very damaging. Learning to genuinely and unapologetically love yourself is not something that simply develops over time; it is something that you must fight for every day. We can fight for it together as a whole but at the end of the day the change must occur within each one of us as individuals. The idea of loving yourself may seem inconsequential but I know from personal experience that it will change your entire world and the experience of those around you.

After struggling with an eating disorder in high school and maintaining an unhealthy relationship with my body for years, I finally reached a point where I was ready to choose my happiness over a number on the scale. I’ve always been someone who sets goals and gets great satisfaction from achieving them and I started to realize that by focusing my time and energy on the superficial I was slowing myself down from accomplishing the things that truly mattered to me. Here are three tools I used to help me get from a place of negativity and self-loathing to the positive, kick-ass place I’m at today.

Shift the Focus
It’s time to stop focusing on your flaws and start looking at all of the incredible things that make you YOU! At what point did it become normal to pick ourselves apart and put ourselves down? When you look in the mirror what words come to mind? Are they loving, kind and generous or are they mean, hate-filled and sabotaging? Would you say the things you say about yourself to your best friend? If the answer is no, ask yourself why? If you lived with someone who was verbally abusive would you flourish or shut down? When you notice yourself speaking poorly about yourself, stop right away and immediately say one or two positive things about yourself. When you start looking for the good in yourself you’ll see it more clearly in others too and in an instant your world will become a more beautiful place.

Surround Yourself with Good
Good people. Good working environments. Good energy. We only have so much time in this world and can’t waste it surrounding ourselves with people, places and situations that drain us of energy or make us feel less versus more. Do an inventory of your life and make a list of anything that is subtracting from your happiness. Make another list of anything that makes you happy, fulfilled, joyful and whole. It seems so obvious that we should try to incorporate more of the later list into our lives but sometimes we get stuck in a rut and don’t even realize that a friend, family member, significant other, job or home situation is bringing us down. Once you are clear on what makes you happy you can make it a priority to schedule more time for it in your life. Whether it’s hanging out with a certain friend, drawing, reading, dancing, running, playing guitar, listening to music, life is all about finding moments of joy to keep your happy tank full!

Let Yourself Feel
We live in a society that is busy, plugged in and checked out when it comes to really understanding and listening to our bodies. We “push through”, yo-yo diet and go from one thing to the next without ever checking in with ourselves. Your body knows what it needs to be healthy and happy but if you don’t stop to listen to it you’ll never know what it’s asking for. Take a minimum of 5 minutes every day (I know you can find 5-minutes!) to check in with your body and actually feel it. Here’s an easy, no fail way to reconnect with yourself:

The 5-Minute Body Check-In
1. Find a space where no one will interrupt you for 5-minutes. (I often do this in my car before getting out to go to a meeting.)
2. Set an alarm so you know when 5-minutes is up. Don’t even think about checking your phone every minute….you’ll get distracted!
3. Close your eyes and start to do a body scan from your feet all the way to the top of your head.
4. Focus on each body part for a few seconds and breathe in and out. If you feel uncomfortable and notice yourself getting fidgety or wanting to get up just take note of the feelings and keep breathing. The more antsy you are, the more you need to sit. When I started this exercise I could barely sit for a minute and now I can last 10 minutes!
5. While you are doing the body scan keep your breath steady and notice where your mind goes. Can you stay focused on the body part you are scanning or do you start thinking about school, your kids, the never ending TO DO list, grocery shopping etc.? If you notice your thoughts moving away from your body slowly bring it back again.

Learning to love yourself doesn’t happen overnight and like anything it takes practice, patience and a few ups and downs. It is worth it though and once you come to a more peaceful place with yourself I can guarantee that all aspects of your life will start to come together in a way that is magical. You can visit my website at www.rawbeautytalks.com to hear the stories of other women on the journey to find their own confidence, happiness and self-love. XO – Erin