CRC’s MEDA Conference Wrap-up

Written by: Jenn Burnell MS, RD/LDN CEDRD of Carolina House and CRC

I had the opportunity to attend my first MEDA conference this past week.  So many local and national experts shared their insight and knowledge on a variety of eating disorder topics.   What a wonderful experience to witness a local non-profit bring together so many wonderful resources!

So what can I share with you from this conference that may help you better understand eating disorders, or make you a better clinician?  Unfortunately I could not see all of the sessions, but here are three messages you can take with you even if you weren’t at the conference.

  1. Eating disorders do not discriminate and they are nothing to be shameful of.  Jillian Lampert and Mark Warren both shared their stories of recovery from an eating disorder and how that has shaped them in being clinicians working in the eating disorder field.  Many individuals in the eating disorder world have their own stories of their recovery, and it is great to see the culture in our field shifting to being open about everyone’s journey to where they are in life and how it can indeed help so many others.
  2. It’s hard to try new foods. In a presentation on autism and eating issues presented by Amy Gardner and Ashley Bade Cronin, the dietitians had the audience all try a food that was not something easily identified by its appearance in the paper cup.  Many people struggled with the idea of trying it, which helped us relate to how someone with autism experiences new foods.  It was interesting to separate the “picky” eater from the “problem?” eater, and how strategies to help these different types of feeding issues have different approaches.  Trying our own mini version of food desensitization really helped put things in perspective.
  3. Eating disorders and substance abuse go more onhealthy famvir hand in hand than you may think. Tom Britton and Lindsay Brady enlightened us on the alarming incidence of eating disorder and substance abuse issues:  Data show that up to two-thirds of people struggling with eating disorders also have some type of substance abuse issue and about one third of those with a substance abuse issue also have disordered eating issues.  Much of this overlap may go unnoticed if we’re not asking the right questions.  Also, treating these issues as two separate problems can create a “wack-a-mole” issue with one symptom increasing as the other is managed.  Looking as these issues together, alongside each other in treatment, may help prevent relapsing from one symptom to another.

The MEDA conference theme this year was, “Spring into Action: Infusing Creativity and Flexibility into the Eating Disorder Field”.   The conference reminded is that we all have different brains that are wired to make us who we are.   Some of these wires may cross in a way that can predispose one to an eating disorder, mood disorder, substance use disorder or any combination of these.  However, understanding how we all tick and learning the creative, flexible and innovative ways to help others (or ourselves) is key to being an effective practitioner.  Our role is to help individuals lead a rewarding and fulfilling life, knowing that everyone’s journey is different.

Working in the eating disorder field is such an amazing thing, and I am proud to have shared time with so many passionate individuals on cold and (dare I say it) snowy Boston days.  Looking forward to MEDA 2016 already!

The presentations from MEDA’s Conference are now posted online for those who attended the Conference. Visit https://www.medainc.org/events/national-conference/ to gain access to the presentations. Also, MEDA will be posting RFP’s soon for their 2016 National Annual Conference. Stay tuned and check www.medainc.org frequently.