Caregivers and patients in the Eating Disorder Program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital are enjoying a new home. Still housed within the hospital, on the 28 acre wooded campus, the program has moved to a new area, designed specifically for the patients attending the eating disorder program.
The United States, as a whole, is obsessed with weight. The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) reports that, on any given day, almost half of American women are on a diet and a quarter of men are also trying to lose weight. But for five to 10 million females and an additional one million males each year, the desire to be thin will turn into a more serious eating disorder where eating is no longer about feeding a physical hunger, but becomes about satisfying a psychological need.
The Eating Disorder Services at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital approaches an individual’s eating disorder from a biological, psychosocial and psychological focus. Understanding the complexity of the illness, theAuroraPsychiatric Hospital’s program helps individuals develop the skills to take better care of themselves from a nutritional, emotional and social perspective. One of the initial steps is to address the physical needs of a patient. “When someone enters the program, they are experiencing a lot of anxiety regarding food,” explains Anne Sprenger, RD, registered dietician withAuroraPsychiatric Hospital. “A dietician meets with them at the very beginning of their treatment to initiate the process of re-feeding them. We set nutritional goals and help them develop personalized steps to work toward those goals.” The program is customized to each individual. Food allergies, and religious and cultural preferences are taken into consideration. Initially the meals are planned for them, but as individuals progress they become actively involved in understanding how to select healthy choices. “Education is a vital component of our nutritional services,” continues Anne. “We need to get our patients the correct information regarding nutrition, explain how they can take care of themselves from a nutritional perspective and give them the support they need to get back on track with eating healthy, balanced meals.” As clinically indicated, patients can participate anywhere in the full continuum of inpatient, partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient programs. An individual’s needs are taken into consideration when trying to find the most cost-effective approach to deal with an oftentimes lengthy process. All options include psychiatric treatment, group and individual therapy with a general emphasis on cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy; education groups; family involvement; relapse prevention, in addition to the nutrition program. “Despite the outward physical appearance of some eating disorder sufferers, the toll taken on the inside is far more devastating,” explains Sandra Blaies, LCSW, supervisor of Eating Disorder Services atAuroraPsychiatric Hospital. “The Eating Disorders Program offers a wide variety of complementary therapies ranging from art therapy, mindful yoga and food challenge experiences to help patients learn how to identify and express their feelings or emotions.” In addition, family involvement is an integral part of a patient’s care. Family education and support groups for the family and friends of patients provides both the education they need to support their loved one, as well as gives them a channel through which they can address their own fears and frustrations. “In our program, families and friends are considered a valuable resource in the recovery program,” addsSandy. Indications that someone may have an eating disorder range from binge eating or food restriction, to self-induced vomiting, abusing laxatives or diet pills, a preoccupation with food, calories, nutrition and/or cooking, crash dieting, denial of hunger, perfectionism, extreme weight loss or low body weight.
If you have questions about our services or suspect someone has an eating disorder, please call 414-454-6694 or visit our website. If you would like to schedule an appointment for an assessment, please call 414-773-4312.