Victoria’s Secret Promotes Diet Culture

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Talia Lusterman

Project HEAL Russell Sage Chapter Leader

Victoria’s Secret Promotes Diet Culture

My visit to Victoria’s Secret justifies the exact reason I was at the mall to shop. My friends and I took a trip to the Galleria mall to pick up professional clothing to prepare for our upcoming presentation at Liberty High School. My friend Katie, the vice president of Project HEAL Russell Sage Chapter, and I will be giving a presentation to health classes at Liberty High School this week on the seriousness and importance of eating disorder awareness and recovery. After we picked up what we needed, we took a quick look in Victoria’s Secret.

Now don’t get me wrong, I always loved Victoria’s Secret and yoga pants are my first choice of attire. While looking around, I saw a pair of pants that said “shopping burns calories”. It’s time I say it out loud. I am over the diet culture being thrown at me from every direction. Shopping should be a fun time for us to buy clothing that we can feel comfortable in, love our bodies, and express ourselves. The last thing I am thinking about when I am shopping is how many calories I am burning. Unfortunately, that’s not something I could have said a few years ago.

While struggling with an eating disorder, you become so consumed by the thought of calories. You start to lose joy in things you once loved, things like… shopping. I remember participating in activities that I once loved only to find myself miserable and counting how many calories I was consuming and burning.

By printing this statement on pants, Victoria’s Secret is forcing people to consciously think about the fact that they are burning calories, which is exactly what someone recovering is trying not to think about. It’s not as if I walked into a weight watchers or a diet supplement store, I went to buy clothing. I did not ask to be informed about what could be triggering material for many people struggling.

This country has become obsessed with dieting. Yes, for most people it is important to exercise and have a well balanced diet, but it is not healthy for anyone to become obsessed with counting calories. These obsessive thoughts begin to consume you and it is all you can think about. It becomes significantly worse when everything around you is reminding you of what you’re trying to move past. Please, enjoy shopping because it is fun, not because it burns calories. Thanks for the obvious fact that moving around uses energy, but it’s distasteful to print it on your clothing. I don’t care that shopping burns calories.

Victorias Secret
Victorias Secret

Thank-you Instagram Giveaway Winner

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@ProjectHEAL Thank-you Giveaway

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Project HEAL’s presence on Instagram has grown tremendously.

To give you a bit of an idea, when Social Media + Instagram Manager Julia joined Project HEAL in January of 2014, @projectheal had around 400 followers. Currently, we have over 3,250 followers!

As a thank-you to our supporters, we are hosting our first Thank-you Giveaway, where entrants will have the opportunity to win one of our originally designed t-shirts and our signature bracelet. We want to thank every person who has supported us along the way, has helped us raise awareness about eating disorders, and has stood by us as we strive for our mission to provide treatment grants to deserving recipients.

Project HEAL Giveaway

Entry is simple. Use our Rafflecopter App to enter the giveaway from 12:00 am October 26th through 12:00am October 31st. A winner will be announced on all of our social media outlets afterwards.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Perfectly Imperfect bracelet
Life is Short, Eat Dessert First tshirt

Red Band Society Glamorizes Anorexia

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By: Liana Rosenman, Co-Founder of Project HEAL

I first want to stress that I do not believe that eating disorders, and in particular, anorexia, are caused by the media and society. Eating disorders are complex psychological and physical illnesses that have a myriad of causes. However, the media and society do not make things any better, and can make things worse for some people struggling with eating disorders.

As much as I would love to say that “Red Band Society” is this season’s must-watch show, I cannot recommend it. Upon seeing the previews for the show, I was excited to see the premiere but was disappointed with what I saw. “Red Band Society “centers around the lives of a group of teenagers in the pediatric ward of a hospital, who all form a strong bond through their fair share of experiences. Leo and Jordi are in various stages of cancer treatment, Dash has cystic fibrosis, Kara needs a heart transplant, Charlie is in a coma, and Emma has anorexia.

“Red Band Society,” is similar to “thinspiration,” dispensing tips and tricks to lose weight. Basically, the show has come out and said that a very dangerous illness is a good idea, here’s how to do it, and more specifically, here is how you can hide it. One of the scenes during the second episode titled, “Sole Searching” was appalling. During Emma’s weekly weigh in, she announces that she wants to gain 10 pounds so she can go to the Yale summer physics program. To achieve her goal weight, she gulps down water and stuffs her bra with coins. In another scene, patient Kara says, “I have cigarettes and diet pills if you get hungry.”

In episode four, “There’s No Place Like Homecoming.” Emma, Leo and Nurse Brittany attend Kara’s homecoming. Two high school girls are in awe at how skinny Emma is, stating, “I have never seen a triple zero in the flesh” and “I just don’t have the discipline for that (anorexia).” Eating disorders are not just about food and weight. People begin to use food as a coping mechanism to deal with uncomfortable or painful emotions or to help them feel more in control when feelings or situations seem over-whelming.

“Red Band Society” is often misleading and uses drama to make it interesting. The show does not capture the reality of being hospitalized for an eating disorder. Emma is the love interest, the smart girl, the nice girl, the one who solves other people’s problems. And that would be fine, if we weren’t seeing her actively reject food every week. Anorexia not only has physical consequences (which I will get to next) but psychological ones as well. You become isolated, withdrawn and socially anxious, none of which has seem to have affected Emma.

“Red Band Society” also fails to show the devastating effects that anorexia nervosa has on the body. Throughout anorexia nervosa’s cycle of self-starvation, the body is denied the essential nutrients it needs to function normally. Thus, the body is forced to slow down all of its processes to conserve energy, resulting in:

  • Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, which means the heart muscle is changing. The risk for heart failure rises as the heart rate and blood pressure levels sink lower and lower. 
Reduction of bone density (osteoporosis), which results in dry, brittle bones.
  • Muscle loss and weakness.
  • Severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure.
  • Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness. 
Dry hair and skin; hair loss is common. 
Growth of a downy layer of hair—called lanugo—all over the body, including the face, in an effort to keep the body warm.

Emma’s character is presented exactly like those high schoolers from the homecoming dance see her: an inspiration. There are no visible signs of her eating disorder, no indication that it’s taking a toll on her body. Anorexia is more than just marking calories in a notebook and pushing your meals away. Anorexia is usually tied with various mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression, and so far Emma seems to be a charming, happy girl who just wants to be skinny. Eating disorders are not a “phase,” a diet, or a lifestyle choice. They are serious mental and medical illnesses that need to be treated by professionals. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. It’s time to BE A VOICE and let people know that eating disorders are not a joke or a phase–they are life-threatening diseases.

Project HEAL Collaborates with UC San Diego Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research to Offer an Innovative Treatment Scholarship for Patients and their Families Struggling with Anorexia Nervosa

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October 6, 2014: Kristina Saffran, 22, and Liana Rosenman, 23, the founders of Project HEAL, are pleased to announce a new collaboration with The UC San Diego Eating Disorder Center for Treatment and Research, furthering the mission of both organizations to provide life-saving treatment to people with eating disorders and show people that full recovery is possible.

The UCSD Intensive Family Therapy program is a unique treatment for adolescents and adults andtheir families struggling with Anorexia Nervosa. The program was designed to provide an immersion into Family Based Treatment, the gold standard of treatment for adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa. The program is based on the philosophy and supporting research that family member are critical for sustained recovery from Anorexia Nervosa –when family members are organized to support the individual and battle the illness in the most effective way, individuals are more likely to successfully recover. Since traditional Family Based Treatment can be a long and costly process, and very few mental health professionals in the country are trained to deliver it, the Intensive Family Therapy Program was designed to be a week-long, multi-family program, involving 35-40 hours of treatment (approximately 8 hours per day). The intensive nature of program allows for immense change to take place in a relatively short period of time and provides unparalleled opportunities for in-vivo intervention, continued therapeutic observation, and supported/sustained practice of skills.

“I am thrilled about this collaboration for so many reasons,” said Kristina. “The Family Based Treatment approach is what ultimately enabled me to reach a full recovery from anorexia nervosa, but it can require a tremendous amount of time and money from the family, making it unfeasible for some. I am so happy that Project HEAL can have a role in helping more families to receive this wonderful treatment.

“Our team at the UCSD Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research is looking forward to partnering with Project HEAL,” says Program Director Walter Kaye, M.D. We are grateful for the opportunity to expand our evidence-based treatments to individuals who may not have the means necessary to seek treatment without the support of organizations like Project HEAL,”

The UCSD Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research is an international leader in employing new treatments based on science and research into the neurobiology of AN and BN. Our program helps people develop more effective strategies to cope with the altered appetite, reward, anxiety, obsessionality, and impulse control alterations that contribute to a vulnerability to develop an eating disorder and the difficulties in sustaining recovery. Each individual receives a comprehensive evaluation to determine appropriate treatment needs and collaborate with you to create an individualized treatment plan.

Project HEAL: Help to Eat, Accept and Live ( is a not-for-profit organization that raises funds to provide scholarships for those with eating disorders who are not able to afford treatment, and promotes healthy body image and self esteem in hopes of preventing future eating disorders. Liana and Kristina met while undergoing treatment for anorexia nervosa when they were just 15 years old. The two young women helped each other to reach full recovery and then wanted to help others achieve it, as well. Since it’s founding in 2008, Project HEAL has sent fourteen applicants to treatment.

For more information, please visit or email the Executive Director, Sara A. Brody at

Project HEAL Announces First Life-Saving Eating Disorder Treatment Grant Given to Male Applicant

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NEW YORK, NY- June 1, 2014: Project HEAL (Help to Eat, Accept and Live) announces that it has funded its first eating disorder treatment grant to a male, as the organization’s 2014 second-quarter grant recipient.

“With Project HEAL’s signature financial assistance program we work to provide treatment for both men and women. We advocate for a more accepting and just mental healthcare system, so that together, we can truly save lives,” comments Project HEAL Co-Founders, Liana Rosenman and Kristina Saffran. Men and women who suffer from an eating disorder can recover if they are able to receive comprehensive treatment. Project HEAL knows this through the first-hand experience of its founders, supporters and volunteers, as well as through the testimonials and success stories of the organization’s grant recipients.

Project HEAL spreads eating disorder awareness, advocacy and provides hope that with proper treatment, full recovery is possible. Over 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States suffer from an eating disorder, but access to proper eating disorder treatment can cost upwards of $30,000 per month, and is rarely covered by insurance. Project HEAL strives to raise eating disorder awareness and provide applicants with the treatment they so desperately need. The organization encourages individuals to unite to end the misconceptions linked with eating disorders by providing a source of awareness, recovery and hope.

To be considered for a Project HEAL grant, an applicant is asked to indicate his or her desired level of treatment, preference for place of treatment, and describe motivation for wanting treatment. Applications are open to the public and international applicants are accepted. There are four application periods a year: the third application period runs July 1 through August 31, and the fourth application period runs September 1 through October 31 of this year. Project HEAL’s Clinical Advisory Board, a multidisciplinary group of experts who specialize in the treatment of eating disorders, will review all applications shortly after the application deadline. The financial assistance grants are awarded approximately 30 days after the application deadline date.

Project HEAL: Help to Eat, Accept and Live is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that raises funds to provide financial assistance grants for those with eating disorders who are unable to afford treatment. Project HEAL founders, Liana Rosenman, 23, and Kristina Saffran, 22, met while undergoing their own treatment for anorexia nervosa when they were 15 years old. The two young women helped each other to reach full recovery and were inspired to help others do the same. Since the organization’s founding in 2008, Project HEAL has raised over $350,000, and has provided full treatment for several grant recipients. For more information, visit

Project HEAL Members in the News this Week

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Suicide Awareness: Not Just a Depression Problem

An eye-opening piece by Dr. Evelyn Attia, who is the Director of the Columbia Center for Eating Disorders (one of Project HEAL’s Treatment Center Partners) and a member of our Clinical Advisory Board.



University of Maryland’s Project HEAL Chapter Responds to Diner’s Offensive Table Sign

Campus chapter co-founders Meghna Balakumar and Alicia McElhaney speak out against unhealthy messages about food, exercise, and body image:

Volunteers for Project HEAL Denver

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BALANCE Program for Adolescents

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BALANCE eating disorder treatment center™

is pleased to announce


    6 week highly customizable program  


Uniquely designed to meet the developmental needs of adolescents before eating disorder patterns become habituated and ingrained


  • Scheduling intake appointments now for adolescent girls age 12-17
  • Flexible schedule to accommodate students including after-school weekday & Saturday options
  • Individualized outpatient care in a small, intimate group setting
  • Integrative therapeutic programming includes: nutrition counseling, exposure therapy, group & individual therapy, mindfulness training, drama therapy and experiential modalities
  • Multi-family groups and support for parents
  • Snack provided daily with mealtime support
  • Ongoing collaboration with schools and primary treatment team
Our mission at BALANCE is to provide the best clinical treatment possible for those struggling with an eating disorder. All programs have an individualized holistic approach that emphasizes self esteem and intuitive eating. We value active collaboration with all outpatient treatment teams. The team works closely with all referring professionals and encourages clients to continue working with their primary treatment team while attending the core program.


We are dedicated to working with those who suffer from eating disorders and helping them to live healthier, happier, more balanced lives.


For further information or to schedule an intake appointment, please call us at 212-645-6903 or email us at:



BALANCE eating disorder treatment center™
112 west 27th street, suite 700, 7th floor
new york, ny  10001
p: 212-645-6903