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Eating Disorders


Eating disorders are serious, potentially deadly illnesses. They lead to a disconnection between the head and the rest of the body, to the point where your body doesn’t feel like your own. Eating disorders can disconnect you from your life, your family and your values. Healing and recovery means finding wholeness, not only reconnecting the signals between your mind and your body, but also reconnecting with your loved ones, your community and your purpose.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, you are not in this alone. At Reconnect, Ozark Center’s eating disorder clinic, we take this work seriously. Our providers have each received specialized training in evidenced-based practices from industry-recognized experts. Treatment at Reconnect relies on a multidisciplinary team, and every member of your team is vital to taking your recovery into the real world:

  • You. You are the expert in your own life.
  • A psychologist or therapist. Our providers will work to help you and your family identify your strengths, barriers and areas for continued growth to choose the best treatment for you.
  • A registered dietitian. Rather than teaching what to eat and when, our dietitians will help you transform your relationship with food and find balance in your health.
  • A psychiatric provider. These providers strengthen your recovery and you through psychiatric medication management in a supportive environment.
  • Your primary care physician. Our team will collaborate directly with your primary care provider. Your health is paramount in treatment, and your provider will help us closely monitor your medical stability to ensure you are safe.
  • Medical support. These members of our team not only ease communication among your providers, they also watch over your health as you work toward recovery, and empower you to manage this sometimes difficult task as you are able.
  • Reconnect Coach. Your coach will help advocate for you and help you learn to advocate for yourself. They will help make your recovery a reality by providing support in difficult moments and encouraging you in the daily work of healing. They are here to help you bring your recovery into the real world, working through barriers and returning you to your life and purpose.

About Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are not a choice – they are dangerous and devastating illnesses. Someone does not choose to have an eating disorder any more than they would choose to have cancer. Girls as young as 6 years old may express concerns about their weight and appearance. More than 80 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat, and nearly half of girls between the ages of 9 and 11 often diet to lose weight. These behaviors can and often do pave the way for eating disorders at a young age.

Nearly 30 million people in the United States will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime. Girls between the ages of 15 and 24 are 12 times more likely to die from this illness than any other cause of death. Normal blood work and lab results may be found in some patients, and those who suffer may fiercely believe “it’s not that bad.” However, their health is in danger now and for the rest of their life. Medical complications include multi-organ failure, infertility, decaying teeth, heart attack and stroke.

The roots of eating disorders begin in biology and genetics. They grow in a culture that assigns a higher value to certain bodies and inevitably considers someone not good enough. The media teaches we must be thin and young to be considered beautiful. Life happens at the same time, bringing events that may trigger an eating disorder, from traumatic events to medical emergencies to bullying. We know eating disorders often occur alongside depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, alcohol and substance use, or other mental illness.

Recovery from an eating disorder is a difficult roller coaster, but it is possible. Remember this – with effective treatment, 60 percent of those with eating disorders reach full recovery. The truth is your strength knows no bounds. Know that whether your body is large or small (or anything in between) or if it doesn't seem "that bad," you deserve treatment. Know that even if you aren't sure you can afford it, help is available here.


National Eating Disorders Association. Get the facts on eating disorders.

The Emily Program Foundation. Eating disorders statistics.


Eating Disorders & Body Image

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” – Marianne Williamson

How often have you held back in your life because you felt not good enough or that your worth was less than those around you? Maybe you skipped dipping your toes in the ocean this summer because your swimsuit did not fit quite right. Perhaps you kept your ideas to yourself for fear of what others might think. Maybe you are even avoiding mirrors because you cannot stand to face your own reflection. Our body image – or perception of our physical self – often dictates the tone of our day and our ability to engage with it.

Often our body becomes a scapegoat for our deepest fears and vulnerabilities. And who can blame us? We were raised to believe our bodies are problems to be solved. Over time, our bodies have been made commodities and hatred of them has become a selling point. We have been taught that our value as individuals is equivalent to our jean size and our ability to attract a partner. Men learn to value their physical strength and are shamed if they do not meet certain standards of physical prowess. Did we even have a chance at a positive body image? 

The truth is body image involves much more than our appearance or our bodies. It is the embodiment of the messages we receive from the world around us, whether from society in general or our families. These in turn become self-limiting beliefs that keep us from achieving our true potential in life. We focus on what we have come to know as our worst attributes in an endless game of smoke and mirrors. In spite of its dangers, this is a comfortable way to go about our lives. It is simpler, easier even, to focus on all that is “bad” or “wrong” about us rather than risk the uncharted territory of realizing our strength and potential.

People often assume it is normal to not like your body and want to change it. This comes from a media and culture that teaches us we could never be good enough. You may have a negative body image if you:

  • Set goals to lose weight or change your appearance to feel less anxious or depressed.
  • Take a long time to get ready in the morning after changing clothes because nothing “fits right.”
  • Compare yourself to other people as soon you walk into a room
  • Avoid taking pictures or selfies with friends.
  • Put off life, fun or vacations until you are able to lose weight.
  • Have a difficult time taking compliments.
  • Avoid looking in the mirror.
  • Feel anxious about how you look in public.
  • Check your weight on the scale multiple times per day.

Imagine for a moment the amount of time and energy consumed by every negative thing you think, say or feel about your body and yourself each day. Now imagine what you could do with each of those moments. Whether it is finally taking on that hobby or finding a way to be of service to others, what could happen if you let go of those self-limiting beliefs?

You owe it to no one to be pretty or attractive. Your obligation is only to yourself – to nourish your body and your heart.

By Dr. Jenny Copeland, Ozark Center Clinical Psychologist

Warning Signs & Treatment

    Recovery from eating disorders begins with early intervention. The earlier these illnesses are identified and treated, the more likely it is to find lasting recovery.

    Being educated about the signs and symptoms of eating disorders is crucial. Here is a list of common warning signs of an eating disorder to watch for in loved ones and yourself.

    • Talking about dieting
    • Odd or unsual eating habits, such as cutting food into small pieces, very slow eating or chewing a large number of times
    • New eating habits, such as vegetarianism/veganism, cutting out entire food groups or clean eating
    • Wearing bulky or loose fitting clothing
    • Fear of eating around others
    • Disappearing after meals – often to the bathroom
    • Making excuses for not eating: "I'm not hungry," "I'm too depressed to eat" or not eating because of stressful events
    • Unable to sit still or frequent pacing
    • Extreme anxiety when behaviors or routines are interrupted
    • Exercising when ill or injured or exercising only to burn calories
    • Fluctuations in weight, up or down
    • Vague or nonspecific gastrointestinal complaints, such as stomach cramps, constipation or reflux
    • Menstrual irregularities
    • Cuts and calluses along top of finger joints
    • Thinning hair or hair loss
    • Poor wound healing
    • Frequent illness and impaired immune functioning

    Note: This is not a screening or checklist for an eating disorder.

    As the first and only eating disorders treatment team in the area, Reconnect uses every available tool to help you find healing.

    • Family-based Treatment (FBT): in FBT, the focus is first on re-establishing adequate nutrition. Your family is the heart of this treatment, with your therapist providing education, coaching and guidance.
    • Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT): IPT holds that eating disorders do not happen in a vacuum. IPT targets interpersonal issues that  may have contributed to the development of your illness.
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on the connection between your emotions, thoughts and actions to build a foundation for recovery.
    • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT focuses on building mindfulness skills, becoming more effective in interpersonal relationships and improving emotional regulation.

    Eating Disorder Educational Videos

    About Eating Disorders

    About Eating Disorders - Dr. Jenny Copeland, Ozark Center Psychologist


    How to Talk to Someone Who Has an Eating Disorder

    How to Talk to Someone Who Has an Eating Disorder - Kate Mays, Ozark Center Community Support Specialist Supervisor


    Warning Signs of Eating Disorders

    Warning Signs of Eating Disorders - Lori Mitchell, Ozark Center Healthcare Home


    Fad Diets and Eating Disorders

    Fad Diets and Eating Disorders - Susan Pittman, Freeman Nutritionist


    Screening for Eating Disorders

    Screening for Eating Disorders - Aubrey Doss, Ozark Center Counselor


    Recovery from Eating Disorders

    Recovery from Eating Disorders - Dr. Charles Bentlage, Ozark Center Healthcare Home Physician


    Addressing Medical Needs in Eating Disorder Treatment

    Addressing Medical Needs in Eating Disorder Treatment - Karen Vandiver, Ozark Center Healthcare Home Director


    The Role of a Case Manager

    The Role of a Case Manager - Crystal Stewart and Joni Powers, Ozark Center Case Managers


    The Role of a Community Support Specialist

    The Role of a Community Support Specialist - Sarah Green, Ozark Center Community Support Specialist


    Financial Assistance for Eating Disorder Treatment

    Financial Assistance for Eating Disorder Treatment - Del Camp, Ozark Center Chief Clinical Officer