Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Straight from the source: former patient recalls her struggle with an eating disorder

Katie Seal, a former McCallum Place patient, was recently featured in a St. Louis Post Dispatch article about her struggle with an eating disorder. We commend Katie for bravely discussing her road to recovery, and hope that her story inspires others to do the same.

To read the article in its entirety, click here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

10 tips to enjoy a recovery-focused holiday

It’s that time of year again. Pitfalls to your eating disorder lurk around every corner, whether it's a plethora of holiday parties, cookies at the office, eggnog at the neighbors or grandma’s homemade fudge. Below are some tips to have a happy and healthy holiday season: 
  1. Eat regularly throughout the day.  Avoid “saving” or “banking” your calories in order to indulge at holiday parties. Arriving famished to an event pretty much guarantees an evening of poor choices.
  2. Practice mindful eating habits. Eat slowly and take breaks. Remember, it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to let your brain know it’s full. 
  3. Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep increases cravings for sugary “fixes”.  In addition, adequate rest enables you to manage holiday stressors and avoid emotional eating.    
  4. Use portion control. Portioning your food can be a helpful strategy when faced with an abundance of foods.
  5. Control your environment. You are more likely to overeat or feel overwhelmed if you are socializing near the appetizer and treats. Involve a supportive person to help you manage stress at holiday gatherings.
  6. Allow yourself to say “no thank you”. It is perfectly reasonable to politely refuse food. Don’t let “food pushers” sabotage your efforts to make positive choices during the holiday season. 
  7. Bring a dish you feel comfortable eating to your holiday parties. Your family and friends will likely welcome another option. 
  8. Make an effort to maintain exercise routines. Regular exercise will help manage holiday stress and it may promote positive body image.
  9. Limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol stimulates your appetite and decreases your ability to practice mindful eating habits.
  10. Divert your attention. Focus on catching up with family and friends, rather than the food.  Holiday activities, games, and dancing are nice alternatives to focusing on food.      
This article was contributed by Kate Evett, RD, LD, lead dietitian at McCallum Place Eating Disorder Treatment Programs. Visit us online at

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    How “the talking cure” helped Diane Keaton overcome her struggle with bulimia

    Legendary actress Diane Keaton has been getting a lot of press recently after she opened up about her struggle with bulimia in her 20’s. In her new memoir, Keaton admits that when she started out in show business her poor self-image drove her to bulimia. Her weight loss started a five-year battle with this serious eating disorder. 

    Keaton sat down with Ellen Degeneres last week and opened up about her struggle with bulimia. After undergoing psychotherapy – what she called the 'talking cure' – Keaton said she one day realized that she did not want to binge any more. When asked to elaborate on how this therapy helped her, she explained, “Because I talked. I spoke it out. I said my thoughts and feelings. And I feel like, once you do that, you own it as opposed to, if you don`t talk about it, it becomes very abstract. To keep secrets doesn’t help you at all,” she said. “I think I'm a sister to all the rest of the women -- and I'm sure men as well -- who have had some kind of eating disorder, and I'm a part of the team.”

    From a clinical perspective, the effectiveness of psychotherapy resides in its process - that of unveiling and making sense of motives, thoughts, behaviors, emotions, experiences and perceptions via talking with a psychotherapist.  This is what Keaton refers to as the ‘talking cure.’ The ‘cure’ comes in part through awareness but also through using newfound awareness to change old patterns and explore healthy ways of expressing oneself and getting one’s needs met.

    At McCallumPace, a St. Louis eating disorder treatment center, psychotherapy is one of many tools used to effectively help those who struggle with emotional overeating, binge eating disorder, anorexia, and bulimia.  For those seeking help but do not feel they need an intensive treatment program, weekly psychotherapy sessions with one of Webster Wellness’s highly skilled psychotherapists is another option. Visit to schedule an appointment today.

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Dr. Randy Flanery weighs in on Vogue magazine's decision to pull model's photo

    St. Louis Model Karlie Kloss is the current "it" girl in the fashion world. The 19 year old beauty is in magazines and on runways all over the world. But she is also making headlines for a particular photo. The black and white image of Karlie in which her hip bones are protruding appeared in Vogue Italia which is considered the bible of fashion. The publishers have now pulled the photo from their website because websites promoting anorexia are using it for "Thinspiration".

    Click the link below to view the video:,0,6319139.story

    Randy Flanery Ph.D., is the director of Webster Wellness Professionals, which is the outpatient clinic for McCallum Place.

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    The Role of Trauma-Based Therapies for the Treatment of Eating Disorders: What Does Safe and Ethical Treatment Consist Of?

    Recent allegations of a treatment center therapist implanting false memories during clinical hypnosis has many people asking, “When it comes to  clinics and treatment centers dealing with trauma-based therapies, what is the standard of care?”

    The use of hypnosis in medical practice has long been controversial. Through hypnosis, the therapist helps patients learn to control their own state of awareness, which can help them change their own actions and thoughts from negative ones to positive ones. However, because patients are in a state of deep relaxation they are highly receptive to ideas, images, and suggestions, thereby making patients vulnerable to suggestive ideas or memories, as in the alleged case mentioned above.
    PTSD and dissociation are relatively common in patients seeking treatment for their eating disorders.  In general, trauma is a significant stress which can precipitate psychiatric symptoms, including the core symptoms of an eating disorder.  Most 24 hour treatment centers – including McCallum Place –focus on resolving the dissociation, managing PTSD symptoms with medication, and building resources prior to any work aimed at uncovering new memories.  When the eating disorder is severe, most patients do not have the internal resources to effectively cope with overwhelming situations. When a patient is malnourished, they are vulnerable and cognitive functioning can be compromised; anorexia is associated with trouble seeing the “big picture”, a process important for putting information in context.   It is also important to recognize the possibility of inadvertently introducing false memories and take precautions against this potentially devastating outcome. In sum, whenever possible, active uncovering work is deferred until the eating disorder is more stable.  When a patient has intrusive memories, dissociation, flashbacks, or avoidance related to a previous trauma, the therapist will focus on resolving symptoms, building self compassion and establishing safety.  Supported exposures may be necessary to target avoidance, which is a barrier to recovery.  The goal is always to reduce suffering by challenging cognitive distortions surrounding the event.

    The McCallum Place treatment planning process reviews benefits and side effects of all aspects of treatment. Our treatment goals involve helping individuals build the confidence and skills necessary to let go of their patterns of restrictive eating, purging, and compulsive exercise. We integrate medical care, meal therapy group/individual dietitian support, and personalized treatment with intensive group, individual, and family psychotherapies.
    Our staff includes psychiatrists, a medical doctor, an advanced practiced nurse, personal trainer/exercise physiologist, dietitians, and many licensed therapists. Group therapies include psychodrama, art, dance, cognitive therapy, skills building, process groups, multifamily group, body image, spirituality, yoga, fitness, and goal setting. For more information about McCallum Place, visit us online at

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Dr. McCallum on Dr. Oz!

    Dr. McCallum will be on the Dr. Oz show today to talk about children and binge eating. We will be posting more about the show after it airs. Check your local listings!

    Why do so many people struggle with weight, body image and eating disorders?

    Our world has changed faster than our bodies have been able to adapt.  Our brains and body cues naturally encourage us to eat high fat, easy access, salty and sweet foods as if the supply will run out.  But for most of us, it doesn’t. Artificial food additives trick our senses and may contribute to addictive feeding behavior.  Other biologic and environmental factors make some individuals especially prone to overeat.  Blaming the individual does not address the complexity of the problem.  
    In fact, Stigma can contribute to shaming, teasing and isolation of those who struggle with obesity.  
    This can have grave consequences in children leading to dangerous dieting, low self-esteem, depression and eating disorders. Those struggling with weight gain need support.  It’s important to fight hate speech and confront shaming behavior.