Nourishing Connections: A Thanksgiving Practice Meal at Prosperity Norfolk

Nourishing Connections: A Thanksgiving Practice Meal at Prosperity Norfolk

Written By: Mary Dye, MPH, RDN, CEDS-S

The delightful aroma of freshly baked pies has filled Prosperity Norfolk all week! Our clients and nutrition team have been busy baking up a storm in anticipation of our practice round for a Thanksgiving meal.

This week, clients and the nutrition team have been busy in the kitchen, preparing for a special practice round of a Thanksgiving meal. At Prosperity Norfolk, this annual tradition serves a purpose beyond the joys of sharing and eating delightful food; it’s a compassionate initiative to support those dealing with eating disorders as they navigate the challenges of a food-centric holiday.

Creating a Safe Space

Thanksgiving can be a daunting day for individuals struggling with eating disorders. To ease this potential distress, Prosperity Norfolk hosts a practice meal, bringing together clients and staff to simulate the atmosphere of a festive gathering. Extra chairs are pulled up, and leaves adorn the tables, creating a communal space where the noise, stress, and stimulation (as well as laughter!) of a typical Thanksgiving can be experienced and managed. This inclusive approach aims to help our clients navigate these situations and create their own peace and calm, figuring out what boundaries and coping skills work best for each of them.

Crafting a Supportive Meal

Guiding the culinary experience is our chef, Savannah Dyer, whose thoughtful planning ensures the menu reflects the diverse array of foods clients might encounter on Thanksgiving Day. This practice meal becomes an opportunity for clients to practice choosing and portioning from a wide spread of dishes. The focus extends beyond just the culinary aspect; it becomes a platform for using and developing coping tools and skills that will prove beneficial on the actual holiday.

Developing Coping Skills

During the practice meal, clients are encouraged to explore various coping tools and skills. The aim is for each individual to identify what works best for them in navigating the complexities of a Thanksgiving gathering. From setting boundaries to employing mindfulness, the meal serves as a training ground for the real challenges they might face.

A Mindful Finishing Touch

The practice meal finishes with attention turning to the beautifully prepared pies. As clients savor each bite, they are guided in mindful eating, acknowledging not just the flavors and textures but also the emotions tied to the experience. This moment emphasizes the idea that food is more than just nutritional content; it’s a shared experience that fosters connection and support.

Food as Connection

This day and this meal remind us all that food is more than just nutritional content. It’s the experience of sharing in a way that is flexible and supportive, binding us to one another. Inviting and joining fellow humans at a table signals comfort, safety, and inclusion. At our table, all are welcome. Eating disorder behaviors are not! We are here to support each other in reconnecting to the joy, gratitude, and welcome that only the act of fully sharing a meal together can bring.

Virginia’s Boutique Eating Disorder Treatment Center


At Prosperity Eating Disorders & Wellness Center, we are dedicated to providing evidence-based, individualized treatment for eating disorders across all age groups, ethnic backgrounds, and genders.

Our approach addresses psychological, nutritional, emotional, and relational needs, guiding individuals toward a full recovery. We specialize in treating a range of disorders including Anorexia, Bulimia, EDNOS, Orthorexia, and Binge Eating Disorder.

Take the first step towards recovery with Prosperity Eating Disorders & Wellness Center today!

Five Eating Disorder Truths and Tips for Parents

Five Eating Disorder Truths and Tips for Parents

Written By: Adrianna Rodriguez, MS, MFT, CFBT

Coming to the realization that your child has an eating disorder can be overwhelming.

It’s daunting and scary. Learning how to navigate the ups and downs of an eating disorder requires a great deal of self-awareness and patience. I have found that parents most certainly have the power to help their child begin to heal – even if the child isn’t fully ready.

In family therapy, we explore not only the best ways to communicate with one another but also identify and practice the most effective ways to show up for and support your child.

In this blog post, I will highlight the top five things to focus on as you walk alongside your loved one on the path to full recovery from their eating disorder.

1. Recovery is Long and it is not a Linear Journey

Recovery comes in waves like a roller coaster, involving progress and setbacks – both of which are normal. It’s important to set realistic expectations for what recovery will look like. Parents are eager to see their child return to being their true selves. It’s important not to rush the process to avoid relapse.

2. Be Strong, Calm, and Consistent

Most importantly, do not negotiate during meals. The eating disorder is masterful at manipulation, so it’s imperative that parents are on the same page and show up as a united front against it. Eating disorders thrive off heightened emotions and overreactions, so remaining calm is crucial. Maintaining a sense of calm during mealtimes will help your child have the confidence to recover. Additionally, being consistent with meal expectations can help alleviate anxiety and fear.

3. Maintain Clear Mealtime Rules

One way to minimize stress is to keep your child out of the kitchen when cooking and serving meals. This can alleviate anticipatory anxiety around the upcoming meal. Incorporating distractions at mealtimes, such as games or watching television, can diffuse tension and shift the focus away from the food. Encourage the completion of meals and avoid engaging in power struggles. By providing firm and loving support, you are sending the message that you will not let the eating disorder take hold and that recovery is the only option. A non-shaming approach can be much more effective than a shaming one, so encourage meal completion in a non-judgmental and tempered manner.

4. Externalize the Disorder

Externalization of the disorder is a critical tool that allows the parent to temper their anger and frustration towards their child. It involves separating the child from the chaos and ravages of the eating disorder. This is most helpful when the eating disorder is driving disruptive behaviors, anger, abuse, etc. It helps prevent getting pulled into power struggles and reminds parents that the behaviors stem from the disorder itself. Your child has not consciously chosen this; rather, they want and deserve help.

5. Steer Clear of Blame, Guilt, and Shame

Blaming yourself or your child does not serve either of you. It is common for both parents and children to experience guilt. One thing is certain: guilt reduces your self-efficacy as a parent and your ability to remain grounded. It also poses challenges to your ability to help your child overcome the eating disorder. Just as it is unhelpful to place blame or guilt on yourself, it is also important not to blame or guilt your child. Just like you would not blame your child if they developed diabetes or any other physical illness, the most important thing to do is to be involved in your child’s recovery and offer them compassion and unconditional love.

Supporting your loved one with an eating disorder is a challenging task. At Prosperity Eating Disorders and Wellness Center, our team is committed to walking you through and providing you with all the tools you need to help your child successfully reach full recovery from their eating disorder!

Virginia’s Premier Day Treatment And Intensive Outpatient Treatment Centers

Prosperity Eating Disorders & Wellness Center specializes in the treatment of eating disorders while offering evidence-based, comprehensive, ethical, and individualized treatment to all ages, ethnicities, genders, and eating disorders. Our goal is to help sufferers find a full recovery by meeting their psychological, nutritional, emotional, and relational needs. We specialize in treating Anorexia, Bulimia, EDNOS, Orthorexia, and Binge Eating Disorder. With locations in Herndon and Norfolk, Prosperity is equipped to serve the needs of adolescents and adults throughout Virginia. 

Get started with Prosperity Eating Disorders & Wellness Center today!

Empowering Your Path: 10 Vital Reminders on the Road to Eating Disorder Recovery

Empowering Your Path: 10 Vital Reminders on the Road to Eating Disorder Recovery

Eating disorder recovery is a journey that encompasses physical and emotional healing. Each meal becomes a crucial step on the path to reclaiming your strength and nurturing self-love.

As you navigate this transformative journey, carry with you these 10 gentle reminders:

1. You Deserve Nourishment:

You deserve to honor the nourishment your body craves. All bodies, no matter their weight, shape, or size, deserve proper nourishment. There’s no need to postpone providing your body with what it needs. Don’t allow your eating disorder or societal pressures to persuade you otherwise. Embrace this essential truth!

2. Listen to Your Body:

Trust your body’s signals. It knows when it’s hungry, full, and what it craves. Tune in and honor these cues.

3. Release Judgement:

Food is not a moral compass. There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. Embrace variety and allow yourself to savor the flavors of life. Food is meant to serve two purposes: nourishment and enjoyment. That’s it. You are not “bad” because you had a dessert.

4. Progress, Not Perfection:

Recovery isn’t linear. There will be ups and downs, and that’s okay. Celebrate your victories, no matter how small.

5. Challenge Negative Thoughts:

Replace self-criticism with self-compassion. Remind yourself of your worthiness and the progress you’ve achieved.

6. Practice Mindful Eating:

Engage all your senses during meals. Appreciate the textures, flavors, and aromas. This deepens your connection to the nourishment you’re providing.

7. Set Realistic Goals:

Break down your recovery into manageable steps. Each day is a new opportunity to progress.

8. Patience is Key:

Recovery takes time. Be kind and patient with yourself. You are worth the effort.

9. Celebrate Non-Food Related Achievements:

Acknowledge and applaud your accomplishments outside of your relationship with food. Remember, you are a multi-faceted individual with talents, dreams, and unique qualities that extend far beyond your dietary choices. Celebrate your achievements in all aspects of your life. You are more than what you eat; you are a person of remarkable depth and potential.

10. Remember, You Are Enough:

Regardless of what you eat or how you look, you are inherently valuable, just as you are.

Remember, this journey to recovery from your eating disorder is about reclaiming your life, your joy, your relationship with your body and food, and your sense of self. You are not defined by your struggles. 


The Truth: Suffering With an Eating Disorder During Thanksgiving

Using our coping skills while suffering with an eating disorder can feel more difficult during the holidays, especially during Thanksgiving. This is the holiday that we envision in our minds that revolves around a lot of food and a lot of mentally tough choices we feel we have to make involving what and how much we eat. Thanksgiving is not easy while suffering with an eating disorder. The coping skills that we use daily can feel so much harder when we know we have so many people sitting around us. We feel that everyone is watching our every move; what we eat, how much we eat, and what our bodies look like in our Thanksgiving dinner outfits. Getting seconds could feel so easy to anyone else, but when you’re suffering with an eating disorder, you have a back-and-forth battle with the thoughts in your head. These thoughts want you to believe that you’re going to need to intensively work out for hours just to burn off the single plate you had at diner. These thoughts tell you that instead of getting up for seconds, you need to calm it down with how much you’re eating. These thoughts tell you that everyone around you is observing how your body looks in the outfit you chose to wear, so you probably shouldn’t fill up anymore on dessert. 

These thoughts are mentally draining and they are cruel.

This is the ugly truth about suffering with an eating disorder during the day we are supposed to be relaxed and grateful. We should be enjoying this time with our family, friends and loved ones, but instead, we are battling with the demons of our disordered eating thoughts.

We ask that you be patient with us. We ask that you please not pressure us. This is difficult for us. We ask that you love us for who we are. We are struggling, and we fear judgement. We fear this day. 

If you’re speaking to us, please remind us that you support us. If we look like we are struggling, please help us take a little breather. A 5 minute break away from the dinner table can feel like a minor part of your day, but this break could actually be the highlight of our day, allowing us to disregard any of our negative thoughts. Bringing our thoughts back into the present can feel impossible sometimes, but with your assistance, we can feel that we belong again. Going around the table and asking everyone what they are thankful for helps us remember to be mindful and thankful for all that we have and get to experience in life. It may sound simple to anyone else, but to us, this fuels our positive thoughts and helps us take this day in stride. 

Allow us to get through this day at our own pace. We are so thankful for your support, even if it may feel unnoticeable to you when we are struggling. We are brave warriors battling through recovery every single day.

5 Effective Coping Skills for Recovery

5 Effective Coping Skills for Recovery

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5 Effective Coping Skills to Assist Your Journey to Recovery

Recovery is a journey. Recovery takes time. Recovery is your journey that you live and control day to day. Throughout this time, life stressors that you may not be able to control come into play and you may feel as if they are acting as a halt in the direction you were headed throughout your recovery journey. Life stressors may include starting back up at school, starting a new job or leaving a current one, an increase in financial obligations, taking care of an elderly family member, moving to a new home, worrying about a touchy conversation you need to have with someone, or even relationship stress. Facing this stress, it feels quite easy to rely on disordered coping skills. However, these disordered coping skills can mentally and physically play a negative impact on recovery. With an eating disorder and partaking in disordered coping skills, one’s eating disorder symptoms could heighten. Practicing healthy coping skills with your eating disorder will aid to the longevity of your wellness and nourishment journey. 


Here are 5 effective and healthy coping skills to handle those stressful bumps in the road that life may present in your path while you are on the road to your recovery:


  1. Did someone say Self-Care? Make yourself your own priority! Wash your face, brush out your hair, put on a face mask, and hop in that bath tub! Light your favorite candle. Enjoy Mother-Earth and the sunshine she has to offer by taking a walk outside and enjoying some fresh air. Listen to the soothing sound of the rain hitting your windows and meditate for 10 minutes. Get cozy and read a new book. Tidy up your living space, rearrange your closet or organize your dresser. Cook yourself one of your favorite meals or bring out your favorite family relative’s cookie recipe! Allow yourself 7-8 hours of sleep, being well-rested will aid in avoiding triggers.

2. Start a new hobby or activity, or return to one you truly enjoyed in the past. Run to Michael’s, grab a canvas and paint something beautiful, get creative! Start a new DIY project for something that would look great in your home, or something you can give to someone as a gift! Inquire through social media or online for a local book club if you enjoy a great read with people that share the same passion as you. Gather friends and family for a once-a-week game night, such as bowling, roller skating. You could even form a kickball team! Find your passion!

3. Journal it out! Keep a journal handy to write about your day. Write about your daily thoughts, emotions, something encouraging someone said to you that day, three things that you are thankful for.

 4. Recognize the way that you speak to yourself. Whether it be about your body, the food that you eat, or your actions. Write down the negative thought, and for every negative thought, on a separate piece of paper (let’s say a sticky-note) write down three positive thoughts about yourself. Now, throw away that negative thought and remove it from your mind-space as it falls into the trash, crumbled up and left behind. Take that sticky note with your three positive thoughts about yourself and place that on your mirror. Leave it there! Look at yourself in the mirror and read these positive thoughts out loud. Remind yourself how awesome you are. Speak these thoughts into existence to yourself and they will become a part of you! Self doubt and self blame will not cure your eating disorder. Uplift yourself. 

5. Reach out and lean on the community you have built around yourself of friends, family, loved ones, and others going through their own road to recovery. Associate yourself with those that you can trust. These people can help carry you throughout your journey when times don’t feel as easy or fair as they should to you. Allow them and involve them in your healthy coping mechanisms. You will be able to rely on these people when you allow them in, giving them your trust and them giving you theirs!




3 tips for coping with triggers in Eating disorder recovery. National Eating Disorders Association. (2018, February 21). 

About eating disorders. Eating Disorder (n.d.). 

To cope with stress, Try Learning Something new. Harvard Business Review. (2019, November 26). 


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