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FEAST of Knowledge March 2019: “All about the science and all about the family”

We did it in 2018 in Chicago. Last month in New York City. And we’ll do it again in Sydney in 2020!

The annual FEAST of Knowledge is our unique way of gathering parents, researchers, clinicians, and advocates. We hold it the day after the annual AED International Conference on Eating Disorders where ever ICED it is in the world that year. We invite a selection of those who have just presented at the ICED conference to come to our day to share the leading edge science, innovative practices, and the direction of research with our families.

It’s “a mix of a TEDx day, a reunion, and a traditional learning conference” according to our Executive Director, Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh. This year, Laura was joined by her husband, Mark Mensh, standup comic, as co-MC.

It was a fast-paced day: each of our presenters condensed their ICED presentation into a five minute overview, before fielding questions for another five minutes. Parents and all attendees were encouraged to  keep those conversations going: with those on the stage, during conversations in the room, and after the event.

As always with F.E.A.S.T., it was family style: we served ourselves, sat down to eat, and we all cleaned up together.

This year our venue was the Caveat Club, described as a “Science Entertainment” theater which fit us beautifully. As we hoped, the sciencey vibe and the library decor set the scene.

See below for the program, which was packed, and see our post earlier this month for some of the pictures.

We even had a letter from the Mayor of New York, to welcome us!

We want to extend special thanks to Elynn, our volunteer co-chair for the entire day. She arranged with local restaurants for us to be fed lunch, dinner, snacks. Thanks to Elynn and her husband, we not only had delicious New York pizza and an Italian feast for dinner, we had homemade dessert and salads. Elynn toured venues, sampled restaurants, coordinated people, attended meetings, and was in all ways our local host to show off New York hospitality and graciousness!

We’re grateful also to our Board Secretary, Daryl, who worked on the swag bag giveaways (with another board member, Lisa Burns and others) and appreciations, staffed registration and sign in as well as designing our gorgeous program.

Special mention to Lisa Epstein, who shopped for beverages and decorations and assisted the MCs all day, photographed the speakers, and assisted both co-chairs.

And Dan, who operated our live stream throughout the day, under pressure and beautifully.

A team of committee members around the world, some of whom couldn’t be there on the day, kept the project on track for the whole year.

We loved having some of you around the world following by live stream, and hope to have the full video available soon (long story, but there was a problem with the recording that we’re working on).

Our evening program, co-hosted by Project Heal, began with an appreciation of authors, including two young first-time book publishers: thank you all.

Then we had a special performance by the Drew University Flute Ensemble, under the direction of Elise Carter, which included our co-Chair, Elynn: thank you!!

Enormous thank to our keynote presenters, Laura Hill and Cynthia Bulik, offered riveting and unforgettable updates on genetics and neurobiology.

We are grateful for ALL 25 of our presenters, a dream team of thinkers and doers as well as speakers, who made the time to be there out of their busy schedules for no compensation, and most PAID registration to share the entire day with us.

But as always, it’s about those we support: those we care for who had or have eating disorders. Thank you to everyone who makes F.E.A.S.T. tick so that we can create events and materials to support families supporting our people! For them, before we cleaned up and left the building, we danced!


Thanks for all that you do for families in their time of need. Paying it forward. 🙂

JD Ouellette F.E.A.S.T. Board Member

The fact is this app takes a protocol that may have some efficacy in a specific, high-risk population and when used under strict medical supervision, and they've made it accessible and are marketing to children under very different circumstances. It's unconscionable and I believe it's unavoidable that it will lead to great suffering for most users (diets still don't work for most people, and weight cycling is unhealthy) and possibly even death for some children who are genetically vulnerable to eating disorders.

Concerned Mom, Canada

Our 10 year-old daughter began to gradually lose weight after deciding to “eat healthy” and “get fit” which lead to a full-blown case of Anorexia Nervosa by the time she was 11. Nobody saw it coming.

Dr. Lauren Muhlheim F.E.A.S.T. Advisor

"I cannot adequately express the guilt that parents feel from having allowed their teens to start these diets."

Sarah K. Ravin, Ph.D. F.E.A.S.T. Advisory Panel

As a psychologist specializing in child and adolescent eating disorders, I stand firmly against the Kurbo app, and any app or program that promotes weight loss in children or teenagers.  The best available scientific evidence demonstrates that dieting is, at best, ineffective, and at worst, blatantly harmful.  For many children and adolescents who develop eating disorders, their illness was initially triggered by a diet or an attempt at "eating healthy" (which is usually a diet in disguise).  For these reasons, I would never encourage a child or adolescent under my care, or any child or adolescent I know, to utilize this app or any other weight-loss product.

June Alexander, PhD . F.E.A.S.T. Advisor

As an 11 year old, developing a restrictive anorexia nervosa, if I’d had access to Kurbo, I would have been drawn to it with a magnetic force, and would have quickly become a star user – I would have lost more weight than others, because I would want to do my best (for the eating disorder). I dread to think that this App has appeared at a time when my grandchildren are aged seven to 12 years.

Not Shying Away From Tough Topics

"(FEAST is) powerful and vocal in the eating disorder community and they have taken on this issue headlong."

Facing Tough Topics

"They (F.E.A.S.T.) are powerful and vocal in the eating disorder community and they have taken on this issue headlong."

F.E.A.S.T. – Families Are Part of Healing

"F.E.A.S.T. is the first of its kind and a pioneer in ensuring families are intimately involved in healing and treatment of eating disorders. I couldn't have helped my daughter without FEAST. I was also able to forgive myself and learn more about my own experience of an eating disorder!"

Support Strength for Recovery

Thank you for being there for me when I needed it most. Not sure if recovery would have been achieved without this forum.

heard and valued

Being validated as a caregiver by professionals! Knowing that in that room, caregivers were heard and valued.

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