…Eating disorders are now one of the top mental illnesses with the highest mortality rate. One person will die from an eating disorder every 62 minutes.
As part of my interview series with public figures who struggled with and coped with an eating disorder, I had the pleasure to interview Erin Reiland. Erin Reiland is a Certified Disordered Eating/Anxiety, Breathwork, and NLP Trauma Coach. She helps women who struggle with these issues, as well as past trauma so that they no longer have to suffer and begin to live a purposeful life with lasting recovery.
After recovering from her own eating disorder, she founded InBody_Love Coaching and has coached hundreds of women to live a life that they are seeking, without the destructive behaviors that have kept them in a place of pain.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally?
Hello! I am so grateful to be able to share my story and how much my life has changed since recovering from my eating disorder fully, and now be able to be in a place to support and coach others struggling with eating disorders and mental health. I am a Certified Disordered Eating/Anxiety and NLP Trauma Coach. As well as a Certified Breathwork Practitioner.
Thank you for your bravery and strength in being so open with us. I personally understand how hard this is. Are you able to tell our readers the story of how you struggled with an eating disorder?
So, my eating disorder began around 15 years old while I was a competitive swimmer on the National level. Things began to spiral and along with my restriction, anxiety and depression I ended up being hospitalized for malnutrition and medical instability. The next 20 years was a revolving door of being in treatment, hospitals and residential treatment centers. I truly never thought full recovery was even possible. My eating disorder was all encompassing and I struggled with every type of disordered eating throughout the 20 years. Along with the eating disorder I experienced childhood sexual trauma for about 4 years, severe anxiety, depression, self-harm and PTSD. I used drugs to numb out the emotions that felt too much to even think about. The pain, guilt (that was not mine to have), shame, sadness and confusion with my life experiences and then what ensued, paralyzed me to where I thought life was not worth feeling all of that.
What was the final straw that made you decide that you were going to do all you can to get better?
The final experience was when I had to go into another residential eating disorder program, halfway across the country for over 3 months. I remember sitting there, in a place of being so sick that I did not even remember the first 2 weeks. My mind and body were giving up. The toll of the amount of years and abuse were at that point of if I did not recover, I knew I would die. I have a 12-year-old son, who at the time was 6 years old and beginning to realize that I was sick. And when he asked me if I was going to die and leave him, my world and life just spun inside of me. I knew that I wanted to live for him, but I began to see that I wanted to live for myself as well. I chose to get a feeding tube to restore my weight and I would have NEVER done that in the past. That is also where I saw that I could actually have a life without my eating disorder.
And how are things going for you today?
My life is 100% different than where I was. I stayed in therapy, step down programs for a year after my last treatment center and then I had this gut feeling that I had a purpose in life- I was going to help others who struggled with what I did and had the same mental health and past experiences to support them in recovery. I left my job of over 10 years at a University to follow my dream. And that is where I am now and what I am doing.
Based on your own experience are you able to share 5 things with our readers about how to support a loved one who is struggling with an eating disorder? If you can, can you share an example from your own experience?
Is there a message you would like to tell someone who may be reading this, who is currently struggling with an eating disorder?
That you are worthy and deserving of recovery. You are not your past and the eating disorder does not have to define who you are or who you can be. Recovery takes even the smallest desire of a different way of living. If you have had past trauma, experience anxiety or depression-it is ok. You will be ok. Working through what has kept you scared, sad and unsure of how life may be without your eating disorder is a major part of getting better. It is hard at times but knowing that once you feel these emotions and go through it, not around it, lasting recovery is 100% possible.
According to this study cited by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, at least 30 million people in the U.S. of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder. Can you suggest 3–5 reasons why this has become such a critical issue recently?
The rise of eating disorders has unfortunately continued in an upward trend. I am glad that it is being reported and so it can be addressed more openly. I believe it has become more of a critical matter because:
1. The incidents in ages being dramatically younger has risen so much in the last 5 years even. Girls as young as 7 or 8 years old are in residential treatment programs for the disorder.
2. Eating disorders are now one of the top mental illnesses with the highest mortality rate. One person will die from an eating disorder every 62 minutes.
3. Treatment for eating disorders is also not proportionality less able to access than say receiving treatment for depression. Without treatment or receiving therapy, coaching etc. the disorder continues on in silence.
4. With Covid, the last year or so has made it so those who could get treatment have not been able to do so. Due to restrictions, there is an even longer waiting lists for treatment centers and step down in person treatment that goes along with residential is generally not available as it was pre Covid.
5. I also believe it has been a big issue for a while, it is just that more people are hearing about it.
Based on your insight, what can concrete steps can a) individuals, b) corporations, c) communities and d) leaders do to address the core issues that are leading to this problem?
I feel that all of the above-mentioned people/corporations/communities/leaders can do to shift the trajectory of eating disorders is to BE INFORMED and get that information out to people in their sectors. What I mean by this is the more you know, the more you can help. There needs to be a major reform and overhaul within the insurance companies. I have dealt with many personally and professionally when helping clients who need to go to an inpatient/residential setting. It is a never-ending run around that if you do not know HOW to navigate the system, and not go with what is initially told a lot of the times by the insurance companies (because so much of the time, the insurance companies make it so difficult even for someone like myself who know what what is, to actually get inpatient/residential treatment approved). Insurance companies do not want to pay for the cost of treatment because inpatient/residential on average costs 30,000 dollars for 1 month! If you are lucky enough to get them to pay, they find any way to get the person out of treatment asap. Where really when someone needs that level of care 3 months has been my experience/opinion, that a person needs to be there for a chance to keep that recovery process going. There is very little outside assistance or scholarships for those who do not have insurance either.
Corporations can help change this by offering reasonable health insurance cost of plans that have a better mental health plan. As well as offering some sort of mental health in their own business for people needing it.
Communities can help by again being informed and then acting on it when they may see someone who is having an issue with eating. I am in the midst of reaching out to local school districts to be able to go in and speak at a meeting with all teachers, administrators and school workers to give them that information. If they are given it, and then have the awareness to know what to look for, I believe many of these incidents of younger school aged children having eating disorders will be lowered.
Leaders need to really understand that when legislation that is brought forward through Eating Disorder Associations etc. be seen as a “must”, not put on the back burner. They have the ability to make insurance companies cover eating disorder treatment.
I also think it has been a great asset for actors, singers, influencers in the public eye come forward and share if they have or had struggled with eating. It brings more attention to it on a larger scale and shows that everyone struggles with something. Even them.
As you know, one of the challenges of an eating disorder is the harmful,and dismissive sentiment of “why can’t you just control yourself”. What do you think needs to be done to make it apparent that an eating disorder is an illness just like heart disease or schizophrenia?
This is definitely one of the more prominent issues facing those with an eating disorder to have people make comments like that or ones that shame the person for having one, do not believe they have one or that it is a choice….I could go on with many more harmful and challenging things that people with eating disorders have to face.
The irony is the eating disorder has the control and the person suffering is trying to control their life through their eating disorder. It is a cycle that is really out of control on all levels.
I do think the recent and information being put out there to others to know how dangerous eating disorders are has been a good thing. It allows for real facts and statistics. It still needs to have more of a reach to the masses for eating disorders to be truly understood and known on how to help or what to do. Just hearing one or two statics that an actual medical/science fact states will start the awareness. (For example: A child is 242 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than they are to have type 2 Diabetes. And Diabetes is a serious medical condition that if not treated they will die. Period. And people know that, and I am pretty sure no one is going to ignore that fact or not get the child the medical attention they need for it. And so, eating disorders should be seen in the same way).
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have helped you with your struggle? Can you explain why you like them?
I love any book written by Brene Brown. She is someone who is able to explain and actually give a true understanding and hope for emotional struggles. I highly recommend picking up one of her books.
I love listening to “Hungry for Happiness” podcast hosted by Samantha Skelly. She talks openly, honestly about her own past with disordered eating and now being recovered, personal development, the power of breathwork and in a way that is light and pretty funny at times. (She is such an amazing person. She founded “Hungry for Happiness” where the main goal is to help women live their best life without eating/body image taking that life away from them. Their 11-month Certification Program for coaches to continue the mission of helping those with disordered eating by addressing the underlying causes. She also founded “PAUSE Breathwork”, a Certification program for those wanting to use breathwork in their profession. (Both of these programs I graduated from and they have changed my life and also how I coach and support women). She has been one of the most guiding and empowering mentors and people I have had the pleasure of having in my life.
Both of these women are REAL, do not sugar coat life and also are caring, funny and inspire me in my day-to-day life.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
A quote that helped me so much during recovery is:
“If you are searching for that one person that will change your life, take a look in the mirror” (~Unknown source).
During my life I felt that if I could just find someone to be with me or “fix” all that I had been through, then I would be able to (somehow) recover. The thought of me actually being that person never once entered my mind. But as I did recover, I understood that I was the ONLY person in the end that would be able to keep fighting for my recovery. No one else could do it for me. It gave me a sense of strength that I did not know I had. But also knowing that I COULD and WOULD recover because I was worthy and deserving of all I wanted in life.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
YES!!!! After becoming Certified recently as a Breathwork Practitioner I am incorporating, as well as a stand-alone service for clients using different breathwork modalities. It is a powerful way to really release stuck emotional energy that does not serve us. The body holds onto memories and emotions way longer than our minds do. By doing facilitated guided meditative sessions the person begins to release these things. The power your breath has is unbelievable!
I am also creating a few online self-paced courses for those wishing to get support on topics like anxiety, trauma and mindset work. These shorter/self-paced courses that I have combined meditations and worksheets allow the person to go at their own pace and still have the intimate feeling of receiving support from me.
The projects and things I create for people I use my own experiences and what helped me during recovery and put it into a course or practice that does yield positive results. I want people to actually have lasting results and learn why they may have been “stuck” or feeling a certain way and that they are not alone in this!!! That is what matters so much to me is to let others know that they may feel alone or scared or not heard-but they ARE!!!
And of course, my 1:1 coaching that continues to evolve. I love being able to connect with a client in a safe, understanding environment and for them to be able to finally feel, see and know that recovery is obtainable.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the largest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My mission and purpose in what I do is, every day to make a difference in someone’s life. Even a post I may do could give someone hope and to know that their past does not define their future. It is really about that one person at a time outlook that builds upon itself. Then inspiring 10 people, 100 people and then thousands. I know this disorder can be devastating and feel hopeless at times. But I also know once you feel and own your truth and work through things, a totally different person emerges. I want there to be open dialogue and less stigma around mental health. If we can talk about it like we do about other things in our lives the change will make a radical difference in people’s lives.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I am on Instagram daily as well as Twitter.
My IG is: @ erin_reiland_love
My Twitter is: @ Food_Body_Coach
They can also go to my website for more information and I have a blog there.
FB Group: InBodyLove Community with Erin Reiland
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!
Thank you so much for allowing me to share some insights, my story and recovery journey!!!