ATCPCC 2013 – Lauren Anton on Dealing with the Food – Adult and Adolescent Eating Disorders

ATCPCC 2013 – Lauren Anton on Dealing with the Food – Adult and Adolescent Eating Disorders

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    Today we would like to share with you a video from our annual ATCPCC 2013, Addiction Treatment Centers and Professional Consortium.  Here in our guest lecture video series is Lauren Anton sharing about dealing with food.  We have a transcript of the lecture for you to follow:

    Hi.  My name is Lauren Anton and I’m one of the Registered Dieticians who works at A New Journey Eating Disorder Center in Santa Monica, California. 

    We treat adolescents and adults with eating disorders and we have several different programs that do that.  We have the extended partial day program and we call it EDT extended day program.  It’s 11 hours long.  We also have the partial day program which is six and a half hours long and we have the IOP program which is three and a half hours long.  In addition, that’s the adults; we have the adolescents who have a partial day and an IOP program.

    So we have a lot of different programs working and I wanted to come and speak today as someone who works directly with the clients.  We work very closely, the dietary staff, with the therapists.  Obviously, it’s eating disorders.  This is a psychological condition.  At the same time, we’re dealing with the food.  So we take that off the plate of the therapist.  Therapist does not need to deal with the food and we’re not dealing with the family relationship staff or trauma.  We’re dealing with the food.

    What we do is we essentially, with the extended day program, they have support all day long; breakfast all the way through dinner.  We have them do HS snack, which is evening snack on their own.  Sometimes they’ll be living in one of our two transitional facilities and so we actually – every day, I come in and I have reports from the two transitional facilities about the people who live there and regardless of what program they’re in, I get to see what they ate, any issues arising, any questions.  So we’re in constant communication with the house moms and the house managers.  I actually have a time in my day where I sit there and I check that thing out and it’s so invaluable. 

    So we have a variety of different things.  Because we’re a transitional facility and they come to us, sometimes from the community and sometimes from residential or hospitals, et cetera, but they come to us and our role is to transition them into real living.  We have – we serve them lunch and then the partial day gets dinner and we actually serve them on a plate.  The whole purpose of that is to say okay, here’s what a meal can look like.  We have a variety of things.  We have all the way from lasagna, all the way to salmon with key lime and steamed veg.  So it just really runs the gambit.  Get them used to different foods.  None of them are going to hurt you and all that sort of thing.  Just a lot of exposure, okay.

    Then we also have them – many of the different programs and especially IOP will bring in their own.  IOP is at night.  And so we do have a day version available.  Most of our IOPers come at night and they actually will get to bring their dinners, okay?  And we let the EDT people bring in their dinner once a week as well.  This gives them a chance, which is so important, to be able to make a meal, prepare it and then be like, “Hey, is this normal?” 

    We do brown bag Fridays where give them sort of a taste of like, okay, this is what you could actually, hopefully make yourself one day.  And we have them assemble it with all the ingredients and they’re making it there.  It’s something they can actually bring to work.

    We have outings.  So the adolescents have a dessert outing and the adults have a meal outing.  We also have a meal “in-ing” where we do take-out and we teach them how to do take-out.  Sometimes it’s like Thai, sometimes it’s like Italian, sometimes its pizza and it just varies from week to week.  And they learn how to navigate take-out.

    In our transitional living, the house moms will take them grocery shopping because again, that’s a skill for real-world.  We’ll give them challenges.  We’ll work closely with the house staff to, okay, so-and-so has a grocery list, they’re to have you sign it off and you guys are going to go Sunday.

    You were born knowing how to eat but somewhere along the lines, someone took that from you and you can get it back.  And that’s what we’re all about.  We’re all about normalizing the behaviors, normalizing food, normalizing eating, okay, and taking away all the, you don’t know how to eat, you don’t – you’ve got to count calories, you’ve got to do this.  We take that and we say you don’t need to.  You were born knowing how to eat.

    And so what we do is we start, ironically, with a meal plan and we tailor those meal plans.  So we work with them individually and the whole point of the meal plan for someone who is restricting is to start to eat, of course.  And we need to work on exchanges.  So they get to choose all the time; always a choice.  Slowly, we wean them off the meal plan.

    Now for someone who’s bulimic or a binge eater, that is kind of going to contain the chaos.  So what we do is we slowly wean them off those meal plans, like either through an array of, okay, pick your own snack.  Okay, now we’re going to do ranges.  You can have this many protein exchanges.  Okay, now, you know what?  Go out to dinner, just do your thing.  Very individual, seeing about their progress, but they really love that because it gives them, well how can I work this in the real world, am I going to be on a meal plan forever; no, you are not and it’s going to vary person to person.  We use the meal plan as a jumpstart to sort of very much individualize the care.

    A New Journey Eating Disorder Center is all about transitioning someone into real life.  My hope is that people will come to us ready to give up their eating disorder, ready to take a look at what’s underneath it, that it’s not about the food and the weight and that they can be fully in recovery and stay there.  So if you have any further questions, please contact us.  Our website is  Thank you so much for this opportunity to speak.


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