December 18, 2016

Episode 3: What if there were an expert parent at every table? - New Plates Podcast

Meet Belinda Caldwell, a Carer Consultant in Victoria, Australia. Learn about CEED, holiday tips for families facing eating disorders, update on news in the eating disorder world.

Full show notes at:

Check out this episode!

December 14, 2016

Reach out and Recover: new online tool in Australia

It always interests me how we talk about eating and weight concerns across cultures. I am in contact every day with Canadians and Australians and people in the UK and elsewhere and find the way we Americans think of and use the English language to describe them both differ and contrast.

Anyway, I am tickled to share a new website in Australia with you, and even if you are not in Australia and not an adult with weight or eating concerns, you will enjoy exploring the innovative ways this site approaches the questions and the information. The site was created by the Victorian Centre of Excellence in Eating Disorders (CEED).

Called ROAR, which stands for Reach Out And Recover, the site offers not only helpful tools but some really important messages that we ALL need to remind ourselves and say to others:
  • Dieting is risky (and doesn't change your weight)
  • Body dissatisfaction is common, but not trivial
  • Too much exercise can be harmful
And the site has marvelous and moving videos:

George's Story from on Vimeo.

Tara's Story from on Vimeo.

"I got my life back." That's the point.

December 9, 2016

Force-feeding, or life-saving?

It is a week of well earned congratulations and disappointment, and both around the law.

Congratulations are due each and every but especially a few for the passage of The 21st Century Cures and Mental Health Reform Package in the US Congress. Oh, the people, the work, the patience, the skill, the strategic wisdom, and the WORK that went into getting eating disorders included in that bill, and passed. I've been watching and at times involved with the work and anyone who cares about eating disorders owes an enormous debt to those who did not give up, did not lose sight of the goals. Those who suffered any number of setbacks and disappointments and KEPT GOING. And it matters. It really matters. Thank you to the organizations, especially the Eating Disorders Coalition, which itself represents organizations -- like F.E.A.S.T. -- who stood for all of us and got this done. It's a good week for mental health, and we needed it.

Another story which may seem to be about one person is actually important to countless others. A woman in New Jersey suffering from mental illness expressed the desire to stop being saved. It isn't uncommon to hear this, and countless families and treatment teams have been faced with the question of whether continuing to distress the patient is compassionate or irresponsible. So the decision by a judge to agree with the petition not to be "force-fed" is hitting many in the eating disorder world hard. Because we all know how agonizing treatment can be. And we all want to offer solace. And sometimes mental illness can seem so intractable and the medical effects so dire.

But many of us see this decision as a grave misunderstanding of what anorexia nervosa is, what treatment is, and what our role as loved ones as treatment providers can be. I wrote about this in a Huffington Post piece this week, and talk about it in the latest episode of New Plates. If you, too, care about this, make sure to be a voice saying so.

I hear many people say "no one cares about eating disorders." Well the success in the US Congress is a triumph for our voices being heard. The case in New Jersey is one where we can choose to speak or be part of the silent assent.

Listen now:

December 4, 2016

Episode 2: History of Including Parents in Treatment - New Plates Podcast

Why have parents been kept out of treatment, and how has it changed? Host Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh as she asks experts from around the world why including parents during eating disorder treatment was once controversial. Also: eating disorder news, and Laura’s favorite word of the week, “anosognosia.”
Details and show notes at:

Check out this episode!

November 21, 2016

Have you heard the NEW PLATES podcast episode 1 yet? "Why Include Parents During Eating Disorders Treatment?"

"Why include parents during eating disorder treatment?"

Some might say "why not?" I took the opportunity recently to ask leaders in the field, parents, and advocates this question and you can hear those answers on episode 1 of the NEW PLATES podcast, now available on the Circum Mensam website as well as on most podcast apps.

Quoted in episode 1, in order of appearance:
  • Dr. Mark Warren, Chief Medical Officer at the Emily Program (phone interview)
  • Dr. Lauren Muhlheim, Psychologist and Director of Eating Disorder Therapy LA
  • Professor Janet Treasure, Kings College London, South London and Maudsley Hospital
  • Dr. Craig Johnson, Chief Science Officer at the Eating Recovery Center
  • Dr. Julie K O'Toole, Chief Medical Officer, Kartini Clinic (phone interview)
  • Dr. Lucene Wisniewski, PhD, FAED  is Chief Clinical Integrity Officer of The Emily Program
  • Dr. James Lock, Director, Stanford Child and Adolescent Eating Disorder Program
  • Dr. Sarah K. Ravin, Licensed Psychologist (phone interview)
  • Jenni Schaefer, the Well-known author and motivational speaker
  • Lisa Conn (phone interview)
  • Katie, parent of daughter diagnosed at ten and now 16, in solid recovery (phone interview)
  • Belinda Caldwell, Executive Director of FEAST and Carer Consultant Victorian Centre of Excellence in Eating Disorders (phone interview)
Eating Disorders Recovery Podcast with Tabitha Farrar
Eating Disorder Research Society
National Eating Disorders Association
Dr. Walter Kaye, UCSD

Circum Mensam is a consulting firm that assists professionals and clinics in working with families successfully and toward better outcomes for eating disorder patients. If your program, event, literature, or training could benefit from expertise on parent involvement, contact us today.


You are welcome to contact me, Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh, MS at, the host of NEW PLATES.

Add YOUR voice to the podcast by leaving voice messages at the site as well!

November 14, 2016

Back, but with a new hat...

I took a break from eating disorder advocacy, but you know what? I don't know how to quit you. With our last child graduating and starting college it was time to reassess and figure out what I wanted to do now that I'm free to work full-time. I finished some projects and tried a few new things, and discovered:

It turns out I've still got some work to do and, I hope, something to contribute. So I told a few friends, and they told some friends, and I now have a new company, Circum Mensam. That's Latin for "around the table" which is a bit of a theme with me. I believe getting families and clinicians working together is a powerful tool for both eating disorder recovery but also relapse prevention.

I have informally, and on a volunteer basis, been doing consulting for some time now. I have, to tell the truth, so many requests for information and to collaborate on projects that it has felt like a full-time job for a long time. I truly enjoy working with both professionals and parents to improve treatment for families. And, in the past few years, the interest in ways to involve parents in treatment for better results has grown faster than the supply. The voices of parents are being heard and it shows in the changing policies, media, and training.

But still, in 2016, most patients with eating disorders are getting treatment that is not inclusive or friendly to their families -- if they are getting treatment at all. And, those who want to better involve families too often find institutional, cultural, and training barriers. Even providers who offer Family-Based Treatment, the gold standard of family inclusive care, often find their work undermined by untrained or FBT-skeptical colleagues.

Involving families isn't only about FBT, or family therapy, and Family Week. Involving families means looking at everything from first phone contact to billing and communication between teams. Involving families means skill with family work but also a view of a family's needs and strengths in the bigger picture.

I'm ready to get back to work. I already have started and it's time now to publicly announce it, and ask my friends and allies in the eating disorder world to:

Subscribe to the new podcast, called New Plates, starting in November. It will be about family-centered treatment and ways for families and clinicians to work together to help patients get well. It will include the voices of families and clinicians and researchers and advocates. In fact, I hope you'll consider being a guest on the show!
If your practice or clinic treats eating disorders, schedule a phone call with me to discuss your program and how you engage and work with families. If you are a parent or family member with experiences to share: call me!

Pass my name on to any clinics or organizations who might be looking to add or improve their family work, or are troubleshooting issues involving training or website content.

And parents, allow me to help other families by learning from you. What's working and what's not? What would help your family better support your loved one? What policies or roadblocks do you wish were changed?

For more information on Circum Mensam, and my new work, visit the website at

To catch me up on what is happening with YOU, dear friends, change my email to and update me!

January 10, 2016

Why you shouldn't listen to me about sex, but probably will anyway

If you needed a reason to wonder what on earth I am doing hosting a podcast about sex, this infographic should be a clue. 
  • I misspelled "benis."
  • The girl is shooting sperm back at the dude.
  • The sperm are the size of hamburgers.
  • It's sexist: why is "Boy" capitalized and not "girl?
  • You couldn't even catch the flu from this distance.
  • The girl has six limbs. Or two tails. 
I was probably seven years old at the time, but still. Some people have midlife crises: others start podcasts. Against all odds and good sense the first episode of Our Better Half is now available.

You can subscribe on iTunes
You can listen on the SoundCloud site
You can use the Stitcher app