Eating Disorder Resources for Vancouver Island

An eating disorder is more than just about food. It is a type of mental illness that involves unhealthy thoughts and behaviours towards food, weight, and your body shape. If you have an eating disorder, you might worry so much about food that you aren’t able to work, go to school, or enjoy time with friends.

Why are eating disorders dangerous?

Medical Complications
Eating disorders can do a lot of damage to your health. People with eating disorders often don’t get the nutrients their bodies need to stay healthy and work properly. For example, people with eating disorders are at risk of heart or kidney failure leading to death if they are not treated.

“The harder I held on to the food, or lack of it, the faster I lost myself. I could see nothing but ED. I knew nothing but ED and I just couldn’t stop. As my body began to fail…as I began to fail…I believed with all of my being I was a failure.” ~ Melanie

Some symptoms of anorexia nervosa are:

  • thin, weak bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
  • hair and nails that break easily
  • dry and yellowish skin
  • fine hair growing all over the body (lanugo)
  • low iron levels and weak muscles
  • constipation
  • low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse
  • drop in body temperature, feel cold all the time
  • lack of energy
  • (for girls and women) not having periods

Some symptoms of bulimia nervosa are:

  • sore throat
  • swollen glands in the neck and under the jaw
  • decay in tooth enamel and very sensitive teeth
  • heartburn
  • pain in the stomach and intestine
  • kidney failure
  • dehydrated

People who try to get rid of calories after they eat by throwing up (or other forms of purging) will have many of these symptoms.

People with binge-eating disorder (BED) often binge on foods that are high in sugar, fat or salt. This kind of diet can lead to weight gain, and some people with BED are overweight or obese. As a result, people with BED are at risk of developing:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • digestive problems
  • heart problems

Some of these complications can also be caused by an unhealthy eating pattern —for example, frequent dieting.

“I was no longer Amy. I was an eating disorder, a lying, destructive, conniving eating disorder. It was an out of body experience, a loss of control so intense that I can’t even imagine behaving that way now.” ~Amy

Resource List

  • Helping Someone with an Eating Disorder  English )
  • How to help a friend with eating and body image issues  English )
  • Parent Toolkit: Supporting a loved one with an Eating Disorder  English )
  • Coach and Athletic Trainer Toolkit  English )
  • What Should I Say? Tips for Talking to a Friend Who May Be Struggling with an Eating Disorder ( English )
  • Guidelines for School Staff: Helping a Student with a Suspected Eating Disorder  ( English )
  • Eating Disorders Information for Carers ( English )

Treatment in BC 101

In BC, there are many different options for individuals looking for help or treatment for an eating disorder. If you haven’t already, a good first step is to visit your family doctor (if you do not have a family doctor, you can access a doctor through a walk-in clinic). The doctor can do an initial assessment, and will be able to refer you to appropriate supports based on that assessment.

In the Treatment Options section of the site, a number of different treatment possibilities are discussed. Note that depending on where you live in BC and the results of your initial assessment, treatment options may vary. If your doctor feels that referral to treatment is warranted, you would typically be referred to an eating disorders program within your community. To see a list of Eating Disorders programs by community, visit our Program Locator.

The Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre is available to explain these options to you, and what you can expect if you are entering treatment. Whatever stage of the journey you are at, if you have questions about treatment in BC, contact the Kelty Centre to speak to someone about your options.

Resource List

  • Eating Disorders Toolkit for BC Practitioners  ( English )
  • BC Clinical Practice Guidelines  ( English )
  • Referral Guidelines and Referral Form Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Programs  ( English )
  • Inventory of Eating Disorders Treatment Programs in BC  ( English )
  • Free/Low Cost listing of Eating Disorder Support Groups in BC  ( English )
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Staying Healthy during Winter

Winter is approaching, and our bodies respond to shifts in seasons by adapting. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda, both Eastern Medicine faculties, support the flux of adaptations by suggesting lifestyle changes we can make to create ease in the shift.

As the temperature drops, and brings with it feelings of dampness, especially in our moist ocean flowing air, the theory supports our intuitive knowledge to practice ways of internal warmth and grounding. The recognized darkness of SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, is the shift in mood as the daylight hours decrease, as we fall into more susceptibility towards anxiety, depression, low energy and sleep disturbances.

To balance these emotions, there are habits around eating, movement and mindful self-awareness practices to stay grounded and healthy.

TCM explains that this seasonal shift affects our Qi and blood in our bodies. From this stems all connections for the foundation of health. A good maintenance of Qi is required to prevent illness, to facilitate healing, to adapt to stress and age gracefully. It is especially important to be aware of our Qi levels as it is highly susceptible to depletion. Therefore, the following habits will help to stay well rested and repleted:

Foods for Winter:

  • In winter, internal heating foods are to be focused on:
  • soups and stews
  • root vegetables
  • beans and cooked whole grains (oatmeal, barley, rice)
  • wholesome meats, eggs
  • warming spices: cinnamon, ginger
  • Immune boosting foods: garlic, onion, turmeric

Foods to avoid:

  • raw or cold foods
  • cold drinks, smoothies
  • overly oily/sugar ladden foods
  • frozen foods

Mindfulness Habits:
Winter is a time for reflection, and more stillness. Cozy up by a fireplace with a warm cup of tea, nourish your family and interpersonal relationships and get plenty of sleep. It is easy to drain our resources when they are already low due to the seasonal shift. By being aware, we can avoid falling ill to the cold or flu, headaches, and other forms of dis-ease.

Incorporating a meditation practice is another good way to tune into our body’s needs. As we wane out of the season and warm up, this energy preservation will allow us to approach spring with gusta being fully repleted.

Practices like yoga, counselling, and simple relaxation self-habits like a warm bath might help reduce the likelihood of falling out of touch with your needs (especially when the gift-buying tendencies of Christmas approach, and we busy ourselves thinking of others and forget that we also need to refill our own cups!).

Winter Exercise:
As we shift, it is important to also maintain movement in the body to avoid excessive and mindless weight gain, with keeping in tune the need to replenish. Therefore, staying balanced by practicing outdoor sports, yoga, and going to the gym is a good idea. The focus in this season is more on building muscle strength as opposed to aerobic exercise:

  • skiing/snowboarding
  • weight training
  • yoga
  • moderate outdoor sports (running, XC skiing, moderate biking)

Recover well with good foods, stretching and stillness.

Staying in tune with these practices is a lovely way to ground ourselves, and if we really listen in, we’ll find that we already had this intuition all along. These guides are a great reminder to practice self-care and that we are human after all, and therefore allowed to practice self-care.

We remember that seasonal shifts truly do require us to treat ourselves compassionately – we’re not superhuman! Everyone is affected by the winter shift.

Take good care,

Melanie Sakowski

 

Sources:
https://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/Chinese+Medicine+and+Winter+Season
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasonal_affective_disorder
https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/seasonal-guides/winter-guide/

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