Open hearts. Honest conversations.

Episode 7: Living with an Eating Disorder – A Hopeful Journey

In this informative episode Val is joined by two guests, Vicky and Joanna, who are both experts on eating disorders and disordered eating. Together they talk about the ways in which people of all genders can be pulled into this difficult experience, the stages, characteristics, and myths, and how family and loved ones can provide support.

Vicky is a social justice practicum student working with Jessie’s Legacy, and generously shares her own lived experience with an eating disorder from which she is now in recovery. Joanna Zelichowska is a Registered Clinical Counsellor who has been working in the field of eating disorders for more than 10 years and is the manager of Jessie’s Legacy eating disorders awareness and prevention program. Joanna and team serve the province British Columbia by providing eating disorders prevention education, resources, and support for youth, families, educators, and professionals.

Show Notes:

  • Three common themes are explored as common characteristic of living with an eating disorder: disconnection, isolation, and stigma.
  • Through Vicky’s journey, elements of secrecy, loss, and shame are discussed, and how each can show up, intensify, and the role each plays progressively and overall.
  • We explore the difference between disordered eating and eating disorders.
  • Vicky talks about early signs in her journey, and how her eating disorder may have evolved.
  • Points of potential intervention are considered, and types of support are identified.
  • Advice for parents is offered by both Vicky and Joanna, and the importance of being curious about changes.
  • Often, we hear that one of the things that keep eating disorders in place is that people get praised for their weight loss. Vicky discusses the reality of this notion, and it’s impact.
  • On the outside Vicky appeared to be functioning at a very high level, she looked like a superstar. She discusses what was really going on inside for her during this stage.
  • It is often noted that eating disorders ‘work’ really well for people in the beginning. Vicky and Val discuss how Vicky realized it was no longer ‘working’ for her, and at what point she realized it was time to get help, and what that looked and felt like.
  • Vicky describes her experience with treatment, what was most helpful, and provides some insights and advice for people who may be contemplating treatment for themselves or a friend or loved one.
  • Recovery is discussed from the perspective of the characteristics and how you know you are there. Vicky shares how the eating disorder has changed her, and notion of (ever) being cured.
  • The ways in which eating disorders are different from other mental health issues and disorders is explained, and comorbidities are identified.
  • The understanding that eating disorders are about so much more than just food is discussed.
  • The team recognizes eating disorders have historically focused on the experiences of women and girls, but in reality, people of all genders experience eating disorders, and the importance of understanding and addressing this limited perspective.


  • To learn more about Jessie’s Legacy – the story behind the program and the range of resources available to you, click here to visit our website.
  • To access counselling for children, youth, and adults, email our intake counsellor
  • If you are interested in getting involved as a volunteer, click here to learn more.
  • If enjoyed the podcast and would like to support our work, click here to learn about becoming a donor.
  • In this episode we refer to the Eating Attitudes Screening Tool, click here to access the anonymous online screener.
  • We also refer to the Body Image Screening Tool, click here to use. This is also an anonymous online screener.
  • For more lived experience information, check out the Q&A Series the Jessie’s Legacy website, click here.
  • Anxiety Canada and Jessie’s Legacy Infographic on Anxiety and Eating Disorders is also a helpful tool click here to view.

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