When Healthy Eating Becomes Harmful

Orthorexia is a condition in which an individual systematically avoids certain foods in the belief they are harmful. While this might seem like a logical mindset for someone concerned with healthy eating, an individual with Orthorexia has an obsession with eating only healthy foods, which can result in devastating consequences in all aspects of one’s life, including medical, social, and psychological.

There is a pervasive focus in the media on physical appearance and health trends, with a strong value on thinness and the promotion of fad diets. Vegetarian diets have become increasingly popular along with these trends. Because society tends to value healthy eating, it can be difficult to understand how this can become harmful. One study (Bardone-Cone, et al, 2012) found that 61% of those with an Eating Disorder who also identified as vegetarian saw a relationship between their vegetarian diet and Eating Disorder. While many who choose some form of vegetarian diet do so for other reasons, those with an Eating Disorder are more likely to follow a vegetarian diet for the purpose of weight loss. In a 2012 U.S. Gallup Poll, close to 5% of Americans followed a vegetarian diet, compared with 50% of those in treatment for Anorexia Nervosa.1

While a vegetarian diet alone does not cause or define an Eating Disorder, a person with Orthorexia is preoccupied with healthy eating to the extent that it has a negative impact on the person’s ability to function in other areas. What starts as an attempt to eat a healthier diet becomes an unhealthy obsession with what is being eaten and how much. The persons’ identity and self-worth become defined by and dependent on eating habits. Rigidity in food choices, specifically avoiding food items that are considered unhealthy, can become a way to gain a feeling of superiority over others. This obsessive and disordered relationship with food is disguised as a false sense of control over one’s behavior. The obsessive thoughts and rigidity in eating habits take up too much of the person’s time and focus. Straying from restrictive diet rules results in feelings of guilt, anxiety, and negative self-image. Orthorexia will eventually lead to isolation from others, difficulty focusing on other aspects of living, and medical complications as the result of a restriction in variety of foods eaten and inadequate caloric intake.

Unlike Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder, Orthorexia is not a separate Psychiatric Diagnosis classified by the DSM-V. The term was first used by Steven Bratman, MD in 1996, and literally translates to ‘fixation on righteous eating.’ The behaviors associated with Orthorexia can be found in individuals with both Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa diagnoses. Treatment for Orthorexia will include a focus on challenging the underlying beliefs about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods, with the ultimate goal of developing a normalized, healthy relationship with all foods as part of a meaningful life.

Orthorexia is often difficult to recognize as a problem, because the behaviors can be justified as part of a ‘healthy’ diet, and correlate with values of thinness and weight loss. However, if you recognize some of these disordered thoughts and behaviors in yourself or someone you know, there is help available.

For more information, call 248-336-2868 or visit our website at www.innerdoorcenter.com

Written by Laura Gross, LMSW

“A Doctor Prescribed It, So It Must Be Safe.”

These words are uttered by our nation’s youth at an alarming rate. After marijuana and alcohol, prescription drugs are the most commonly abused substances by Americans age 14 and older. Teens most commonly abuse pain relievers such as OxyCotin, Vicodin, simulants such as Ritlan or Adderall, and sedatives and tranquilizers such as Valium or Xanax. Prescription drug abuse is when someone takes a medication for someone else, or takes their own prescription medication in a way not intended by a doctor, or for a different reason such as getting “high” or “numbing out,” or to help improved focus on schoolwork. It has become a growing issues as the dangers associated with abusing prescription medications, particularly pain medication are severe. When prescription drugs are taken as directed from a physician, they are usually safe. It requires a health care professional, such as a doctor or psychiatrist, to determine if the benefits of the medication outweigh any risk of side effects. However, when taken in different amount or abused, and for purposes other than prescribed, the medication affects the brain and body in ways similar to illicit drugs.

Prescription drugs can be habit forming and addictive and put a person at risk for harmful health issues, such as overdose, especially when taken with other drugs or mixed with alcohol. Mixing different kinds of prescription drugs can be particularly dangerous, for example benzodiazepines interact with opioids and dramatically increase the risk of overdose. More than half the deaths in the United States each year are caused by prescription drug abuse. In the last decade, the number of deaths from abused prescription drugs has amplified. Prescription drugs are easier to obtain that street drugs, and most youth get prescriptions drugs they abuse from friends or relatives.

Prescription drugs are usually common medications family members or friends may be prescribed to deal with a variety of mental or physical health symptoms. Due to the commonality, availability, and thought that prescription drugs come from a doctor, youth have a mistaken belief that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs because they “know where they’re coming from.”images (3)

One way to take action and protect your children and their friends is to secure your medications in a locked cabinet or lock-box. Keeping track of how many pills are in each prescription or pack of medication will allow for accountability of what should remain in the bottle. Also, keeping tabs on how many refills on each medication are left, including your youth’s medications, will ensure for proper distribution of medications. Discussion with family, friends and your children about prescription drug safety and abuse can be a powerful tool to keeping everyone safe. Inner Door Center is a Michigan licensed substance abuse treatment center. We are here to help you and/or your loved one who may be struggling with prescription drug abuse. For more information, call 248-336-2868 or visit our website at www.innerdoorcenter.com

To learn more on this topic or to find tips on how to start hard conversations please visit:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA):


National Institute Health on Drug Abuse (NIH)- Treating Prescription drug addiction:


Oakland County Health Division: Teen Prescription Drug Abuse:



Article by Alexandra Crosson, LLMSW

Staff Spotlight: Elizabeth Cotter, MPH, RDN

Elizabeth Cotter, MPH, RDN joined Inner Door Center in June as a Registered Dietitian.  Beth is a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Public Health with a Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Notre Dame.

3e70eadWhen asked what made Beth want to work at Inner Door Center, she explained how she fell in love with the center during her dietetic internship three weeks before she graduated.  She never thought she wanted to work at an eating disorder and substance abuse clinic but Inner Door Center’s unique philosophy of incorporating yoga and mindfulness into eating disorder and substance abuse recovery drew her in.

Beth’s typical day is being present during our Partial Hospitalization Program, specifically mealtime to answer questions, follow up with clients and be a person for support for the patients.  She has recently become a part of Inner Door Center’s new Binge Eating Disorder Intensive Outpatient Program.

Beth’s favorite part of her job is hearing the one on one testimonial’s with patients about where they started and their struggles and how much they’ve grown since starting the program at Inner Door Center.

Beth and her sister who is a nurse practitioner have been working on a mobile app for mental health that they want to release on the app store soon. Beth is very thankful for the opportunity to grow and learn at Inner Door Center and has fellow colleagues like Beverly Price, CEO and Founder of Inner Door Center’s who have inspired her in her to grow in her profession and become a better dietitian.

If you would like to learn more about our staff at the Inner Door Center, please visit our website athttp://www.innerdoorcenter.com. For more information on Inner Door Center and our treatment programs, please contact us at 248-336-2868.

Staff Spotlight: Valerie Luxon

imageValerie Luxon, Psy.D joined Inner Door Center in March of 2015 as the Clinical Program Director. Valerie graduated from Illinois School of Professional Psychology and as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist has worked with children, adolescents, adults and families since 2003.

When asked about why she chose to be a psychologist, Valerie explained that she has always been intrigued by the multiple layers and complexity of mental health. She wants to be able to help other people back those layers and create a better quality of life.

Originally from Michigan, Valerie moved back home from Chicago, IL where she previously worked at Alexian Brothers Health System, for the opportunity to work at Inner Door Center. Although she enjoyed her time at Alexian Brothers Health System, she spoke about how much she enjoys working at Inner Door Center because of the flexibility and creativity the center gives that makes it more beneficial for the staff and the clients.

Inner Door Center’s yoga based center and Valerie’s long going passion for working with eating disorders is what made the choice of wanting to work at Inner Door Center an easy one.  Every day at her job is different; Valerie sees patients, works with administrative development, conducts assessments with clients and develops new programs and trainings.  Her favorite part of the job would be interacting with the clients, seeing the progress they are making and creating new ideas for programs Inner Door Center.

Valerie is right where she wants to be with her career. She really enjoys her job and everything she does and her focus now is to keep moving forward with community outreach programs, workshops and new trainings.  The last thing that Valerie was asked in her interview was who inspires you the most and she stated beautifully “Watching the clients I work with persevere through difficult life challenges to find inner acceptance and knowing that they have allowed me to be a part of that journey is really inspiring.  I gain so much strength from so many of the clients I work with.  It truly is just as beneficial to me.”

If you would like to learn more about our staff at the Inner Door Center, please visit our website at www.innerdoorcenter.com. For more information on Inner Door Center and our treatment programs, please contact us at 248-336-2868.

Yoga and Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is characterized by symptoms such as eating large quantities of food in a short period of time; feelings of lack of control; eating rapidly; and eating until uncomfortably full.  BED is associated with low self-esteem, poor self-acceptance and increased stress levels.   BED is a relatively new disorder, appearing as a separate disorder for the first time in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-V (2015), however it is not a new phenomenon.  It is suggested that 20-30% of individuals seeking treatment for obesity may have moderate to severe symptoms of BED.  Individuals with BED use binge eating as a way to avoid negative affect, including depression and anxiety.  This leads to a lack of awareness of the internal processes, sensations and experiences, disconnecting the individual’s internal state and bodily experience.  This disconnect is then generalizes to the way one experiences, perceives and reacts to others and the world around them.

viewTreatment for BED has typically centered on cognitive behavioral therapies, weight loss therapies and interpersonal therapies. Many of these therapies have shown some success their effects are often short term.  Mindfulness based treatment approaches are quickly gaining recognition as providing value in treating dysregulatory disorders.   Mindfulness based approaches have shown success in improving awareness of the internal experience, interrupting maladaptive patterns, decreasing stress related reactions, and increasing a sense of control and self-acceptance.  Such processes are congruent with the struggles of individuals with BED.

Yoga has been shown to be an effective mindfulness based experience.  Yoga is a beneficial treatment modality for individuals with BED for several reasons.  Yoga focuses on mindfulness, increasing one’s awareness of their internal experience while reconnecting one with their body.  Yoga has been beneficial in shifting from feeling distracted and physically disconnected to focused and physically present.  Several research studies have found a reduction in disordered eating patterns and food consumption, as well as increases in body awareness, satisfaction with physical appearance and an overall improvement in connectedness to physical well-being.

Mindfulness-based yoga therapy is an effective treatment for Binge Eating Disorder.  While individuals with BED may initially be uncomfortable with yoga, due to a disconnect with the body, multiple studies have shown significant improvement in BED symptoms through yoga.  Yoga allows the opportunity for individuals with BED to reconnect with their unfamiliar bodily and emotional experiences, thus reducing negative BED symptoms and improving awareness, satisfaction and overall quality of life.

Valerie Luxon, Psy.D.Fully-Licensed Clinical Psychologist and  Director of Clinical Training and Program Development at Inner Door Center.

Do you struggle with?

Regularly eating far more food in a limited time period?
Feeling that your eating is out of control?
Eating extremely fast?
Eating beyond feeling full?
Eating large amounts of food when not hungry?
Feeling terrible and disgusted with yourself after a binge?
If you experience three or more of the above on a weekly basis for three months, you may be struggling with Binge Eating Disorder (BED)



Staff Feature: Marina Belfiore

Inner Door Center® is headed for a busy summer in Metro Detroit with clients, events, presentations and outreach work. What a perfect time to bring on an intern to help support us through our eventful summer!

Marina Belfiore is a student at West Virginia University studying Public Relations and Business Administration. She is highly involved on campus being on the board of WVU’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and being a member of Chi Omega.10568910_10203512982958145_4458189973615865053_n

She chose to major in Public Relations because she likes that it can be fast paced and it’s not just sitting at a desk every day. There’s a variety of work to be done in Public Relations. It’s also something every company uses so there’s a wide variety of options as to what someone can do. When it comes to the future, Marina would love to work in the health industry and work in crisis communications.

When she came across our internship posting, it immediately struck interest.

“I have had a lot of friends go through eating disorders, I was there to help them through it, so I’m very passionate about it. And I’m very passionate about PR and Marketing so it seemed like a good fit.”

This isn’t Marina’s first time working in a health setting. She has worked with the Boys & Girls Club, World Medical Relief, NFL Day-Of-Play and Make A Wish planning events and fundraisers for these non-profits.

We are very excited for Marina to join the Inner Door® Center team for the summer. With her past experience in event planning, fundraising and PR, we know she’ll add tremendous value to our marketing efforts!