Today’s featured interview by Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C is with Lauren Bickford MS, RD, LDN LDN,
Jennifer: Tell me a little bit about yourself and what fueled your interest in helping people to recover from eating disorders?
Lauren: When I was younger, my math and science brain was constantly active. I decided to major in biology during college and learning about all the pathways in the body that require specific nutrients peaked my nutrition interest.
Slowly but surely, the relationship we all have with food became much more interesting than how the body uses the food. It seemed to me that as we got older, the food fight was less of a playful cafeteria fantasy and much more of an internal battle keeping people from living their lives to the fullest. Rather than fighting against food, I help my clients utilize a self-care approach when it comes to food and their body-in order to get to that “living life to the fullest” place.
Jennifer: What is your approach when it comes to helping your patients who are struggling with eating disorders?
Lauren: I meet my clients where they are, while also helping them to gradually challenge their eating disorder thoughts and behaviors. I practice from an “all foods fit” philosophy. My passion is helping people to find freedom from eating disorders and make peace with their bodies, allowing my clients to get back to the important things in life.
Jennifer: Tell me a little bit about your experience and approach to helping those in addiction recovery.
Lauren: During my time as a dietetic intern, I was able to train both at Boston Medical Center and South Boston Community Health Center. I would regularly provide nutrition care to clients with substance use disorder.
Early exposure to this work completely normalized the treatment of individuals in addiction recovery for me. I later had the opportunity to work as the registered dietitian for a residential treatment program. Clients from all over the country would seek treatment at this program and it reminded me of something important – just like eating disorders, addiction does not discriminate. Both affect all sizes, genders, races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
My approach now comes from a common theme I noticed while working in this field. The early stages of sobriety are often accompanied by an intense desire to confront many aspects of life head on. My approach acknowledges this motivation and desire for change and channels it into small, sustainable goals rather than going to an extreme.
My ultimate objective is to help individuals in recovery reach their health goals while incorporating relapse prevention strategies. By taking the slow and steady approach, we are able to address discomforts that arise that may have previously been addressed with addiction behaviors. Finding both sobriety and recovery is possible.
Jennifer: Do you utilize a health at every size approach?
Lauren: I absolutely work from a Health At Every Size informed perspective. I feel that this approach is crucial when it comes to helping people to heal their relationship to food, their bodies, and themselves.
I believe we’re so much more than the physical body we were born into. Yet somehow, that seems to be the primary concern for many health care providers. By taking the focus off of body size, true healing can begin.
Jennifer: What would you say are some common misconceptions when it comes to eating disorders?
Lauren: One of the most common misconceptions I hear about eating disorders is that they are all about the food. I like to say as much as they are about the food, they’re also not about the food. What I’ve found is so often the plate becomes a reflection of what’s going on in life. Eating disorders aren’t a choice and it’s important to help people find tools that will support those challenging aspects of life in a more beneficial way.
Jennifer: What would you say are some of the biggest challenges and most rewarding aspects of your job?
Lauren: Some of the work that we do can be challenging and is not always comfortable. It’s always important, though, to help clients to work through that discomfort in order to get to a better place. Often times this process leads to my favorite part of my job, the client having their “a-ha!” moment. It’s such an incredibly refreshing time during the work. Things start to make sense and the eating disorder starts to lose its power; recovery begins.
For more information, see Lauren at https://www.theeatingdisordercenter.com/