Jennifer Kreatsoulas, PhD, RYT 500, is a yoga therapist specializing in eating disorders and body image. She is coauthor of the forthcoming book, Body Mindful Yoga: Create a Powerful and Affirming Relationship with Your Body (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018). In addition to her private yoga therapy practice, Jennifer leads yoga therapy groups at the Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Philadelphia and yoga workshops and retreats on eating disorder recovery and body image. She is a partner with the Yoga and Body Image Coalition and the Transformation Yoga Project. Her writing on the topics of yoga, body image, motherhood, and eating disorder recovery can be found on her blog as well as several influential online publications. Connect with Jennifer on her website.  In this week’s post, Jennifer shares her experience at NEDAcon Philadelphia.

On Saturday, May 12, 2018, eating disorder treatment professionals, researchers, individuals affected, family members, educators, and activists came together for NEDAcon Philadelphia at Drexel University. This wonderful conference focused on educating attendees about the diverse experiences of people recovering from eating disorders and inspired a vital call to action for inclusion of marginalized groups in the recovery community.

The conference presenters powerfully impressed how all connected to the recovery community play an important role in expanding the conversation and representation of who exactly suffers from eating disorders. Exceptional professionals, including Colleen Reichmann, PhD; Ivy Felicia; Samantha DeCaro, PsyD; Hallie Espel-Huynh, MS; and Rebecca Berman, LCSW-C, CEDS, MLSP, spoke on how and why the intersectionality of eating disorders and all body sizes, races, abilities, genders, socioeconomic statuses, sexual orientations, ages, and other behavioral and mental health conditions must be valued, respected, researched, and represented.*

A major takeaway for me from these presentations was the truth that we can’t for wait for the media to change these messages; rather, we, the recovery community, must empower ourselves to lead the way and educate others by using our voices and paving avenues for healthcare, research, and professional outlets to exponentially raise the bar for access to care and overall education about underrepresented groups in the eating disorder community. What a necessary and powerful call to action! And it was personally thrilling and humbling to be in the audience, learning from so many wise voices and feeling moved by others’ experiences that were so unlike my own, due to my many privileges.

I had the true honor of not only attending NEDAcon, but also moderating a recovery panel on self-care and maintenance. The three women on my panel were brilliantly brave and inspiring, each sharing stories of struggle and victory, pain and healing. Their backgrounds, eating disorders, and pathways to care were all very different. They shared how their marginalized or otherwise non-typically represented personal experiences affected their identity before, during, and after treatment. And they spoke with such courage and confidence about what self-care means to them and the daily steps they take to sustain and support their recoveries. Each offered a message of hope for attendees, including family members.

In their own unique ways, the women on my panel and the people who shared about their challenges in recovery on a panel moderated by Brian Pollack, LCSW, CEDS, are actively advocating for wider acceptance of eating disorders in their communities. They are also raising up their own voices and those of others to create awareness and prevention of eating disorders. They are out in the world every day, owning their recoveries and purposelfully helping others do the same through their example and steadfast commitment to gathering up all the bodies and voices of the eating disorder community, uniting them, and assuring them of their worth and worthiness of care, recovery, and humanity.

This article originally published on the Chime Yoga Therapy Blog.

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Oliver-Pyatt Centers is grounded in mindfulness and the belief that each person has the capacity for a mindful relationship with food and their body. Present in every aspect of our program, this philosophy encompasses nutrition and eating, as well as movement, with an emphasis on becoming free from negative habits, behaviors and rigidity. We work from a place of empathy and wisdom, using a medically grounded, psychologically gentle approach.

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