As we get ready to ring out 2011 and ring in 2012, here's a look back at what we've done this past year, and a look forward to new adventures.
Early in 2011, I edited the over 60 informational handouts that The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) makes available to the public, streamlining them and bringing them up to date with latest research findings. NEDA does a great job in providing help and hope to those fighting the disease and their loved ones. I attended NEDA's annual conference in Hollywood, Calif. in October, where I was struck by the growing profile and presence of relatives-many sisters and mothers, especially-of young people who had died from eating disorders.
Yet there was much new information and reasons for hope passed on at the conference, too: in the panel discussion with individuals and families who had triumphed over great adversity; in the words of Australian writer June Alexander, who recovered after a more than 30-year struggle with anorexia and bulimia; and a superb seminar on how families can more effectively do battle in the eternal struggle for medical insurance reimbursements. There was lots of medical talk too, about the need to balance advances in brain science (and the tendency to stress the neurobiological basis of eating disorders) with the influence of society and culture in triggering these deadly disorders. Finally, I was happy to see that more and more clinicians are starting to embrace Family Based Therapy (FBT) and involve the family and loved ones in the recovery process.
Marcia has been working ferociously, as usual, balancing her full-time nutritional counseling practice with a race against the clock to turn in her manuscript for the second edition of her much-lauded professional textbook, Nutrition Counseling in the Treatment of Eating Disorders. Due out from Routledge Press before the end of 2012, we can offer you this synopsis:
Unique to this second edition is the collaboration of two experienced nutritionists who specialize in the field of eating disorders, Marcia Herrin and Maria Larkin. They have completely reorganized the new edition with a revised section on nutrition counseling interventions derived from cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, family-based treatment and motivational interviewing techniques. In addition, the new book includes state-of-the-art nutrition assessment guidelines and food plans developed by the authors along with a careful review of research-based findings. New information regarding guidelines for appropriate levels of care in treatment of eating disordered patients is provided. The authors include practical clinical tools for nutrition-focused family-based treatment and for managing bingeing, purging, excessive exercise and weight restoration. Overall the new edition is a comprehensive overview of all food- and weight-related treatment approaches geared to help nutrition counselors, therapists, and medical providers effectively understand and address eating disorders.
In 2011, Marcia worked with clients ranging in age from 13 to 60 who struggle with every type of eating disorder. She says, "Eating disorders are not going away." In fact, the opposite is true. "I am struck by how pernicious eating disorders are," Marcia told me. "I'm having patients return to treatment after 10 years of struggle. These are patients that left treatment for a variety of reasons (usually going off to college), and then return asking for help." Marcia adds, "It's not just teenagers, but women in their 40s and 50s and 60s who are asking for help."
Yes, eating disorders are not going away, but the good news is that there have been great advancements in our understanding of eating disorders, and the complex interplay of genetics and environment that lead to their expression. Patients also benefit from better diagnosis now than there was 10 years ago, as well as from the many online resources, books and experts that to turn to for information. We recommend the Gürze website, NEDA and Something Fishy for starters.
Sending you our best wishes for a happy and healthy 20012,
Marcia and Nancy
Nutritionist Marcia Herrin and Nancy Matsumoto, co-authors of The Parent's Guide to Eating Disorders, Gūrze Books. Marcia is also author of Nutrition Counseling in the Treatment of Eating Disorders.