By Judy Krasna, F.E.A.S.T. Board Member
I have been privileged to attend the International Conference on Eating Disorders (ICED) for 5 years running. This year will make 6, and it will be my 4th consecutive year presenting, which as a non-professional, is another privilege that I don’t take for granted.
There are many things that I love about that conference. First and foremost are the educational sessions. I practically inhale the plenaries and workshops presented by top-notch clinicians and researchers who are at the cutting edge of the eating disorders field. It is a phenomenal opportunity for me to learn from the giants, and to then share my newly gained knowledge with the global parent community.
My next favorite thing about ICED is the access that I have to premier eating disorder professionals from all over the world. These people are the crème de la crème, the absolute best clinicians and researchers known to mankind. They are brilliant, and their wealth of knowledge about eating disorders is staggering. In addition, and this is huge–they are kind and gracious. They share their downtime at conferences with moms like me, who want to pick their very capable brains to whatever degree time allows.
For example, years ago, Dr. Walt Kaye offered me the opportunity of a lifetime, allowing me to fire away all of my burning questions about how eating disorders affect the brain while we grabbed a few quiet moments in the lobby of a NY hotel. Dr. Lucene Wisniewski sat with me in Chicago and discussed which DBT skills would be most helpful for me to learn as a parent in order to keep my daughter safe and to help her tolerate the distress of her illness. Dr. Carolyn Becker met me in a beautifully appointed hotel lobby in Prague and addressed my cynical views of eating disorder prevention, taking the time to explain her approach and her thoughts, and ultimately clarifying things which were previously a little muddled in my mind.
Each of these meetings enhanced my knowledge about eating disorders exponentially. Even more than that, it gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling to know that there were scientists and clinicians out there who care about parents, and who respect and value them. This means the world to me, because it is not always the feeling that I get as a parent in my own country.
That warm and fuzzy feeling within me positively explodes when it comes to Feast of Knowledge. Highly regarded eating disorder professionals not only give of their time, knowledge, and expertise by presenting at the event, but they are there to connect with parents as well. They are approachable, answering questions and dispensing advice to parents and caregivers. They respect F.E.A.S.T and its principles.
It’s just a beautiful thing to me; it brings me such hope that the day will come when the lived experience of parents will be integrated into research and treatment, and that collaboration between stakeholders will be the norm and not the exception.
In my eyes, F.E.A.S.T. has done something remarkable in creating Feast of Knowledge. They have incorporated my favorite parts of ICED into an exceptional, educational F.E.A.S.T. event for families—AND, they have actually enhanced the experience by allowing for the connection between caregivers as well.
F.E.A.S.T. is all about connection. The forums, the parent support lines, and the Global Task Force are just a few examples of how F.E.A.S.T. connects those who need help with those who offer it, and connects those who advocate in different countries around the world so that they can share ideas and motivate one another.
It’s amazing how deep the connections are that we develop online through F.E.A.S.T., but it’s even more incredible when you can see the people who you interact with on the parent forums and through the live chat feature on the website and on the volunteer group in Workplace and via the parent support email channels in person at Feast of Knowledge, even if “in person” means through video this year, when Feast of Knowledge is virtual. Just putting a face to a name and sharing a smile face to face deepens and strengthens those critical connections.
Feast of Knowledge 2020 has a terrific educational program. Absolute giants in the eating disorders field will be presenting on topics that are particularly relevant to families, sharing knowledge that will help us care for our loved ones and better understand their illness. There is zero travel involved since the event is online, it only costs $50, there are scholarships available for families who can’t afford the registration, and the program is split to accommodate multiple time zones.
If you haven’t yet registered for Feast of Knowledge, there’s no time like the present! I look forward to “seeing” all of you on June 14.