Article Inspiration


Join us in reading soulful articles we have cultivated from across the web. If you have found an article you feel is inspirational, explores current research, or is a knowledgeable piece of literature and would like to share with us please send an e-mail here.


5 Ways to Create a Safe Space for Those Struggling This Holiday Season NEDA Blog

Tips for Surviving the Holidays in Eating Disorder Recovery Psychology Today

Supporting a Loved One in Eating Disorder Recovery During the Holidays ED Recovery Specialists

Facing the Fear of the Unknown in Eating Disorder Recovery Eating Disorder Hope

To Tell or Not to Tell: Therapists With a Personal History of an Eating Disorder ED Catalogue


For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

8 Keys Series: It’s Not Just About Food

Monte NidoKeesha - Circle Vice President of Clinical Programming Keesha Amezcua, MA, LMFT, CEDS continues her series this week on the 8 Keys book by Gwen Grabb, LMFT and Monte Nido Founder Carolyn Costin with the 3rd key. In her writing, Keesha explains how this key stresses that the eating disorder is not just about the food, and the ways this is put into practice in treatment at Monte Nido.

Almost every person who has struggled with an eating disorder has been berated by a, often well-meaning, loved one to “just eat a cheeseburger already”. Key 3, which stresses that eating disorders are not just about the food, is the antidote to those comments. This is what makes healing from an eating disorder so complex. Key 3 can help create discussions that explore the range of complex multi-faceted meanings of eating, food, weight and shape.

This is the key where therapists get to pull out all the knowledge they used in graduate school; digging deeper into the underlying issues that result in food and exercise behaviors. In the absence of healthier, more adaptive coping skills, an eating disorder can develop as a way to manage stress, anxiety or depression, family dynamics, cultural pressures and traumatic experiences, among other things. There can also be biological factors contributing to a person’s eating disorder. Therefore, we can’t assume that just reestablishing someone’s relationship with food can heal his or her eating disorder completely. This is why there continues to be such debate in the field about evidence-based therapies and best practices for treating these disorders. If there was one right way, one clear winner in how someone can without-a-doubt get well, every treatment program would look the same and there would be less need for research and conferences. There are obviously some treatment modalities that have proven to work better with certain demographics and diagnoses; but still, those do not give us absolute certainty that a person will recover. Therefore, we continue to utilize an eclectic group of therapies to get at these underlying issues.

Key 3 is not intended to negate the importance of nutritional stabilization; this is addressed in another key. It does make clear that solely addressing the food, in the absence of exploring other psychological issues misses the mark. We can talk about food all day, every day, for a year and not see someone truly progress toward recovery. Someone can restore his or her weight, but if he or she hasn’t explored what was underneath the restricting and weight loss there is a good chance recovery will be short-lived. We need to understand what function or set of functions a person’s eating disorder has served. As clinicians, we have to identify these functions in order to help our clients get their needs met in more adaptive ways. A conversation about kale will only get you so far. Only discussing donuts can be a dead end.

One assignment that Carolyn and Gwen discuss in the 8 Keys book, which Carolyn had initially written about in her first edition of Your Dieting Daughter, is the “Real Issues” assignment. There is a list of 13 proposed issues to provide a jumping off point for clients to delve into what’s really going on underneath their fear of food or their over-attachment to it. This list covers the basic categories and can help a therapist determine what therapeutic modality might best address what’s going on. Is there a need for more psychodynamic work? Family systems? Existential? Feminist theory? Narrative therapy? ACT? DBT? Perhaps some specific trauma work needs to happen via CPT or EMDR? All the while we continue to utilize the CBT techniques as I’ve previously discussed.

It’s not just about the food. This makes this work exciting, ever changing, always challenging and forever interesting. It is also what makes an individual’s recovery unique and lasting.


For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

The Fairy Dust

kate-funkMonte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Philadelphia Primary Therapist Kate Funk, MS, MFT joined the Monte Nido team six months ago when the program first opened. In her writing, Kate shares the journey she and her team have gone on starting as co-workers and now becoming a family, and just how important this relationship is in providing eating disorder treatment services.

In early June I joined the team that would open Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Philadelphia. During our training, we were promised that we would create a family and enjoy life long relationships with one another. I thought nothing of it at the time, figuring this was something people say when trying to build camaraderie among new staff members. Theoretically a nice concept, sure, but how could they ensure that our site would have that experience? As we learned about the “fairy dust” that sets Monte Nido apart, I hoped that we could give clients the same specialized treatment provided by the staff at the original six-bed facility.

Flash forward six months… Our staff, accompanied by the Chief Clinical Officer and Chief Experiential Officer, shared desserts over a family meal in a local restaurant. As we laughed and dined together, I looked around the table and had a moment, a soul moment. A table of individuals from different corners of the world, various backgrounds and values, experts in our field, strangers just a few months prior, now people I consider family. This was the fairy dust we learned about in training. We had it. A dinner with my coworkers and the heads of the company and I was completely myself; even better, they were all being their true selves. That was a night I’ll never forget.

This is what Monte Nido is all about. We work to wean our clients off their eating disorders and onto healthy relationships with others, but, even more importantly, with themselves. We model this skill with our staff. Monte Nido offers the space for staff to be authentically themselves; modeling this journey of self-exploration invites clients to explore who they are as well. We share with each other our experiences. We share meals and emotions, the good and the bad. We celebrate and we mourn together. We don’t hide who we are we. We don’t turn away from the dark parts. We take the time to go in. Hand in hand. Together.

This is the fairy dust. This is what matters. This allows us to stand apart. Six months ago I wasn’t sure we could recreate the magic that Monte Nido Founder Carolyn Costin originally created, and luckily – magically – we’ve been able to. This is my new family, and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of our team.


For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.



Selfish or Self-saving?

beth-hartman-mcgilleyMonte Nido & Affiliates Expert Advisory Council Member and Associate Professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita Beth Hartman McGilley, PhD, FAED, CEDS is a psychologist in private practice, specializing in the treatment of eating and related disorders, body image, athletes, trauma, and grief. In her writing, Dr. Hartman McGilley speaks to the stress and pressure many of us experience in our every day lives in an effort to be all things to everyone, and reminds us of the importance of saying “no”.

As the holidays near, most of us are in some form of panic about “what needs to be done before.…” Before the relatives come; before the office Xmas party; before taking finals; before the turkey is done; before the year is over. In truth, for too many, this mad rush to “make our lists and check them twice” is a year round ordeal—a revolving door of self-imposed demands that daily dumps us on the threshold of our self-esteem with nagging feelings of deficiency. It drives some to distraction and others to destruction. Either way, it diminishes our precious capacity to be wholly present, and intra- and interpersonally attuned. What good is a completed list with a depleted list maker? One version of this is the “be all things to everyone” persona. Recognize yourself anyone?

Given that we tend to become what we focus on, I prefer to turn this dilemma inside out and explore what it looks like to “be some things, to someone, some of the time!” One tool I offer my clients, to enliven and embody the qualities they admire in others, is to become shameless spies! I ask them to think of a few people who carry themselves and conduct their lives with the character and integrity to which they aspire. And then set out on spying missions to bear careful witness to how those people inhabit their bodies, how they hold others in their gaze, how they negotiate daily demands, how they communicate in simple matters as well as the profound. Once we have a living template for how those cherished qualities manifest in others, we can try them on and in ourselves. Over time, we can develop our own versions, and they become part of our internal and interpersonal fabric.

One of my most spy-worthy friends is Dr. Margo Maine. A prolific writer and passionate advocate, activist and therapist in the field of eating disorders, Margo wastes no time in revolving doors! She has mastered the fine art of living exceedingly productively with what I once heard called “joyful stress.” She is equally facile hitting the gas pedal as she is in using the brakes. “Yes” and “no” are equal opportunity answers depending on the question, and more importantly, how it impacts her in the moment and the longer term. While some may hear that as being self-centered, it’s quite the opposite. I liken it to the metaphor of putting your own oxygen mask on first if a plane is going down. We are only as effective as we are well sourced. If we aren’t connected to self, our relationship with the Divine is compromised (and vice versa). It’s an act of respect and regard for another to manage ourselves—our time, our energies, our money, our hearts. Our word counts, and when asked to do something we’re unlikely to complete, it’s a LOT easier to say no and then yes, than it is to say yes and back pedal our way back to no! Memorize this people pleasers!

Margo was recently distinguished as a recipient of the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame Women’s Wellness Honorees. All honorees were challenged to answer, in 20 seconds, the following question: What is the single most important thing a woman can do to increase her well-being? She answered: “The most important relationship in a woman’s life is her relationship with herself. Our self-talk can diminish or empower us. In a culture so demanding and dismissive of women, we need to rebel and stop apologizing for not being perfect, and start telling ourselves we are good enough as we are—simply good enough!” Simply. Good. Enough. See how that mantra could burst you out of the revolving door? How would you answer the question for yourselves?

There’s a seriousness to this dilemma that can’t be made pretty, and I offer this to the healers and wholers of the world—no advanced degree required. You, who keep the porch light ever blazing for those in need, who foster and serve the young skin- and fur-clad lost souls, who bathe the feet of the old and dying, who are woke and speak up to indignities. You, who are Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese, walking “on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting,” whose nature is so given to giving, it becomes “your place in the family of things.” Your heart doesn’t operate on the clock and the wellspring of your spirit has no depth gauge. You answer the calls, you welcome the tears, you speak truth to power. For you to say “no,” or “not now,” or “not again,” will feel like bending your fingernails backwards. Do it anyways. Give what you give to the person who sometimes needs it the most—yourself. It’s not selfish. It’s self-saving.

For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.


3 Rules to Maintain Recovery During the Holidays

jennifer_yoga-9076Jennifer Kreatsoulas, PhD, E-RYT 200, RYT 500, is a yoga teacher and yoga therapist specializing in eating disorders and body image. Recovered herself, Jennifer is extremely passionate about helping others reconnect with their bodies and be empowered in their lives. She teaches yoga at the Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Philadelphia and is a partner with the Yoga and Body Image Coalition. She leads trauma-sensitive yoga classes and teaches weekly flow yoga classes. In this week’s blog post, Jennifer offers some tips to help maintain recovery during the holidays.

The holidays can be a season of conflicting emotions and desires. For me personally, I feel joy and overwhelm, excitement and anxiety, carefree and out of control, happy and unsettled. After years of persevering to make my recovery a priority during the holidays, I’ve observed that emotional collisions can significantly affect hunger and fullness cues.

So not only are feelings at odds with one another, but the natural sensations that we in recovery work so tirelessly to understand and honor, can also become confusing to decipher. If all this goes unchecked, we may find ourselves on a downward spiral of eating disorder thoughts and behaviors before we ring in the New Year.

Trust me, this is not to diminish the sheer guts, courage, and perseverance it takes to maintain recovery during the holidays. We are bombarded in ways that may be very uncomfortable, overwhelming, and outright triggering. All those external factors can flood our minds and emotions, which is exactly when we want to take refuge in the eating disorder. Disconnect. Numb. Distract. Sound familiar?

Years ago, my therapist told me that recovery is about having choices. When we are ruled by “ED head,” we do not have choices; everything is off limits or has a consequence associated with it, which seriously limits our range of choices. Her words have stuck with me and made a big difference in my relationship with my recovery, including during the holidays when it may be enticing to numb out.

But, I have a choice, and YOU have a choice: We can get pulled under or commit to doing our best to not let that happen.

Here’s 3 rules that I live by to help me choose recovery when I want to check out, like during the holidays. Pick the one that resonates with you to help you maintain recovery during the holiday season and beyond.

No. 1. Have a safety net to keep you honest. I have a pact with myself that, unless I am actively continuing forward in my own healing, I cannot work with others in recovery. In this way, my work keeps me honest. It’s my safety net. It’s the thing that keeps me in check from getting off my recovery path. When old fears show up and tempt me to starve, my work keeps me honest. When the urge to drop weight or obsessively body check comes on strong, my work keeps me honest. I think of my passion for my work and the trust I am asking of my clients, and know that, if I do not choose recovery, all that goes away.

What keeps you honest? Who or what is vitally important to you and can be your safety net? It’s ok to use external motivators to get us through intense times. Continue to ask yourself this question until you find the answer. Hold that answer in your mind and heart, and look to it to help you stay on course. You will be thankful for that safety net, and you will feel renewed by a sound sense of purpose. I promise.

No. 2. Recognize struggle, but don’t settle. There’s no shame in struggling. In my opinion, the struggle is work not failure. It’s just as worthy of an experience as a struggle-free day. The important thing about struggle is not settle in or for struggle.

We can get caught up in telling ourselves a narrative about how hard we are struggling and literally get sucked in so deep that struggle turns into a downward spiral. Sometimes a relapse is what we need to ignite the healing process, but other times, maybe even most times, this is not the case. Keep yourself honest about the struggle and don’t settle to let it take over you or your holidays. This is the time to rally and call on your supports, do activities that are empowering, carve out quiet time, or see friends who are uplifting. We all have our tricks for pulling ourselves out of a funk. You deserve to take the time to do those things, no matter how hectic the holiday season is. You deserve to not settle.

No. 3. Resolve to evolve. Just because the holidays were difficult last year or the past 15 years, that does not mean that this year will be or must be the same. We have the choice to do the holidays differently this time. We can resolve to evolve.

Reflect on what’s been hard in the past for you. What’s made the holidays challenging? How did you use the eating disorder? Look hard at your choice, patterns, and habits this time of year. What small shift can you make in how you respond to a triggering person, place or thing? What are some ways you can respond that don’t involve taking it out on food or your body? This is about playing offense instead of defense. In other words, the holidays can leave us feeing out of control, but we can flip that thinking by taking charge. When we are in charge, when we remember we have choices, when we resolve to evolve, we empower ourselves and make recovery a priority.

I recognize that these rules ask a lot. They require we work hard and stay connected to present moments that are uncomfortable and maybe even painful. But these rules also inspire a proactive attitude and a committed effort to incorporate recovery into our lives, not keep it off to the side or treat it as another “job.” We must remember that we have choices, and this holiday season, let’s all do our truest best at maintaining recovery by staying honest, not settling, and resolving to evolve.


For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.