BMI Victory at EDC Lobby Day

We are pleased to share an update from the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) Lobby Day held on October 1st; resulting in changes of BMI measurements in schools as per the recommendations of the advocates. Outreach Manager Katherine Swain McClayton writes about her first hand experience.  


On October 1st, I attended my fifth Lobby Day organized by the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC.) As a board member of the EDC, we work to carefully craft our efforts and initiatives to have maximum impact and change. The EDC has many irons in the fire, but at our most recent Lobby Day we asked Congressional offices to sign onto a Dear Colleague letter requesting the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) examine how BMI testing is administered in schools. The EDC also provided all members of Congress at their meetings a multi-organization fact sheet on the concerns with BMI collection. The ‘Dear Colleague’ letter was initiated by U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida and is addressed to CDC and the Department of Education.  

The goal of this letter is for guidelines to be put in place as to how to collect BMIs in schools with the concern of weight stigma and harm done inadvertently though this practice. BMI is proven to not be an ironclad indicator of health, and furthermore, the way in which this is currently carried out in schools has its share of horror stories. As one advocate told her story, students standing in a line in a gymnasium, and clapping for the person with the lowest BMI is misguided, irresponsible, and dangerous. The Academy of Eating Disorders (AED) issued suggested guidelines for childhood obesity prevention programs in order to avoid such situations in schools. 

On October 1st, EDC’s Lobby Day hosted the most advocates and meetings with Congressional offices in its history. The energy was even more palpable than usual. At the lunch hearing, four advocates told their stories as to why we need to alter legislation to change the way eating disorders are researched, seen in the public, and covered by insurance companies and received more standing ovations than ever.

Most importantly, we saw immediate action. The CDC agreed to immediately look at their recommendations for BMI measurements in schools. These updates by the CDC include making changes to the BMI measurement in schools information available on their Healthy Youth webpage; providing targeted webinars on this topic to school boards and other organizations, and adding cautionary, safeguard language to CDC’s BMI tool for school calculator webpage. 

Things in Washington, DC do not move at a very fast clip as of late. The Eating Disorders Coalition is proud and excited that the CDC is taking our voices seriously and looking at these changes in BMI screenings. Further victories lie ahead for eating disorders advocates. Yet, this immediate attention and action by our national government gives us hope, excitement, and strength that our work to help all those affected by eating disorders is being heard with louder voices and stronger tones. 

To find out what more you can do: visit the EDC’s website as well as this action alert.


For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers and newly introduced Embrace, a binge eating recovery program and Clementine, a residential program exclusively for adolescents girls please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram

Turning Down the “Noise” of Dieting

We are so pleased to feature a guest post on the importance of leaving the diet mentality behind from registered dietitian nutritionist Jenna Hollenstein. You can see her first guest post, Loving your perfect self before improving it, here. To read more from Jenna, visit her blog Eat to Love: redefining fullness, or join her on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. 


Letting go of the dieting mentality can feel like one of the hardest parts of embarking on the Intuitive Eating journey. Even as you learn to listen to your own internal signals of hunger, fullness, and satisfaction and to shift your allegiance in this direction, there is a lingering pull toward the seemingly never-ending barrage of eat this, not that; how to ensure that calories in are less than calories out; means of manipulating your metabolism; and whatever superfood or supplement will finally “fix” you.

Doing something that feels so far outside the mainstream can be disorienting at best, which is why one client’s straightforward approach to turning down the noise of dieting struck me as incredibly concrete and relatable. Here’s her 4-point plan with some commentary of my own:

1. “I choose not to consume”

One sure way to decrease the noise of dieting is to not engage with it. If you know that you are vulnerable to being drawn in by these things, reducing your exposure is important. This means not buying the diet books and dieting-focused magazines, not following weight-loss pins, Instagram accounts, Facebook pages, and tweets.

2. “I’m skeptical of what gets through”

No one can eliminate 100% of their exposure to the dieting and weight loss machine. But you can learn to recognize it when it gets through and to question its sources and intentions. Where do they get their information? Is it based in science or anecdote? What are their motives? To sell something? To create dependence on themselves, their program, or their product? To promote weight loss or to sustain health? Are they helping you to become the expert of you?

3. “I make decisions based on health, wellness, and pleasure rather than on what will make me skinny”

When you focus on your own internal signals of hunger, fullness, and satisfaction, you can start to make important connections. What works for you? What, when, and how much do you need to eat to feel content, vibrant, and sustained in your daily activities? What do you enjoy? And what makes you happy?

4. “I don’t participate in the dieting dialogue, food shaming, or fat shaming”

Not participating in diet speak in particular can make you feel like a salmon swimming upstream. At times it feels like everyone else is doing it! Many people, especially women, seem to bond over the commiseration about diet, weight, and their bodies. But taking the risk of doing something different will cut through these superficial connections and help to build real common ground: trust in yourself and a curiosity in others about this approach to true self-care!

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers and newly introduced Embrace, a binge eating recovery program and Clementine, a residential program exclusively for adolescents girls please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram

Introduction to Our IOP / TLP Team

Dr. Kelli Malkasian, PsyD introduces her team of therapists, dietitians, recovery coaches, and case manager within the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) / Transitional Living Program (TLP) at Oliver-Pyatt Centers. For additional information on our IOP and TLP programs, please scroll to the bottom of the post and visit our website


Meet our team:

Kelli Malkasian, Psy.D. IOP Program Director  I have been at Oliver-Pyatt Centers for over three years and have worked in the field of eating disorder treatment for 10 years. I am a licensed clinical psychologist; I earned my Bachelors of Science in psychology from Michigan State University and both Masters and Doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. I find working with women at the IOP / TLP level of care to be most inspirational because I get to see the women develop a sustainable identity that is both fulfilling and meaningful. 

Mary Dye, MPH, RD, CDN, LC/N Director of Nutrition Services  I received my Masters and R.D. training in Public Health Nutrition at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. I came to OPC two years ago from a private practice in New York City, where I was also the lead dietician at NYU’s student health center and consultant for NYU Abu Dhabi campus, with a focus in eating disorders. In addition to overseeing all nutrition services for OPC, I also work individually with all patients in the TLP program. I truly believe with the right treatment, length of stay, aftercare plan and a solid outpatient team, each client can have a strong chance for a meaningful and sustained recovery.

Alyssa Mitola, MS, RD, LD/N Registered Dietitian  I have been working as a Registered Dietitian at OPC since June 2014. I completed my dietetic internship and earned a Masters of Science in clinical nutrition from New York University. I received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Villanova University. I recently moved from NYC to Miami and am thrilled to be a part of the OPC team! As a nutritionist, my passion is to help individuals cultivate a healthy relationship with food. Each day I am inspired by the women as they strive to rebuild this relationship on their journey of recovery. 

Sage Rubinstein, M.A., RMHCI TLP Case Manager  After studying psychology and child and adolescent mental health at New York University, I went on to receive my Masters in mental health counseling at Yeshiva University and am currently a Registered Mental Health Counseling Intern. Prior to beginning my role as the Transitional Living Program Case Manager at Oliver-Pyatt Centers, I worked as an addiction counselor at Hazelden NY and as a therapist at the Training Institute for Mental Health. OPC allows me the unique opportunity to merge my interests of study through my role in the Co-Occurring Program while challenging myself through new and exciting areas of growth.

Leslee Gilbert, M.S., RMHCI Primary Therapist  I have worked at OPC for four years; starting as a Recovery Coach and after finishing my Masters degree in mental health counseling from Nova Southeastern University, began working as a Primary Therapist in the comprehensive program. For the past year, I have worked as a Primary Therapist in our Intensive Outpatient Program. What I love most about working in IOP and at OPC in general is the closeness of the team, the overall positivity in my work environment, and the passion we share with treating our women.

Amanda Strunin, Ph.D. Primary Therapist  I am a licensed psychologist. I received my Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Miami, and completed internship at the Durham VA Medical Center. I have been part of the Oliver-Pyatt Centers team as a Primary Therapist since 2012, and completed my post-doctoral residency in Casa Rosada. I am specialized in adolescent and young adult intervention and enjoy working with individuals and their families to help find long-term recovery. Eating disorder prevention is one of my passions and why I am interested in building awareness in schools and communities.

Annie Hoffman, LMHC, ATR-BC Primary Therapist  I have worked at OPC since January of 2014 as an Art Therapist and a Primary Therapist. I have a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Florida International University and a Masters in art therapy / counseling from Drexel University. I am a Board Certified and Registered Art Therapist and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. I also serve as President for the Florida Art Therapy Association. I find it is truly a privilege to be a part of one’s process of self-discovery and growth and to walk alongside them on their journey on the path of recovery. 

Josephine Wiseheart, M.S., RMHCI, RMFTI Primary Therapist  I have worked as a Primary Therapist at OPC since May of 2014. I received my B.A. in psychology from Florida International University and a dual Masters Degree in marriage and family therapy and mental health counseling. My dual degree equips me with the skill set to appreciate each of my clients’ perspectives while also helping them to navigate through various relationship issues. I believe therapy is a place where people should feel safe to understand and express their feelings and values without fear of judgment. I feel so fortunate to have found a profession that I am deeply passionate about and in which I have the honor and privilege to work with such strong and inspiring women.

Veronica Loman Head Recovery Coach  I became a Certified Health Coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2013. I have been working at OPC for over four years. I have had the pleasure of learning from and working in different programs and levels of care at OPC and have a better understanding of the recovery process. I love seeing our women embark on a journey of finding who they truly are; feeling stronger, confident, and empowered.


What we do:

We offer a comprehensive and multidisciplinary Intensive Outpatient (IOP) level of treatment for clients who are either stepping down from our comprehensive level of care or clients who need more support than outpatient level of care. We offer daily group therapy and supported meals, along with individual psychotherapy, family therapy, nutritional counseling, and case management. In conjunction with our IOP programming we also offer a Transitional Living Program (TLP) for patients who need a supported living environment to help them transition from the comprehensive level of care back into their lives or to help the client create a new life for themselves. Clients in the IOP and TLP programs focus on integrating recovery into a sustainable lifestyle while developing life skills, independence and responsibility for their recoveries, establishing an identity outside of the eating disorder or patient identities, and continuing to progress in their recoveries. These programs are uniquely tailored to create an individualized treatment plan and goals for each client to help them solidify their recoveries and to prevent relapse and/or readmission to a higher level of care.   

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers and newly introduced Embrace, a binge eating recovery program and Clementine, a residential program exclusively for adolescents girls please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram