Eating Disorders are Prevalent but Solvable, with Sonia Kumar, co-founder of Body Brave and the Body Peace Collaborative
Source: Social Impact Advisors
“As someone with lived experience, and as a person of mixed colour, Sonia brings a unique perspective to addressing eating disorders as a mental health issue, raising up the voices of people with lived experience and seeking more equitable access and support.”
The Working Mind Features Sonia Kumar-Seguin
Source: Mental Health Commission of Canada, The Working Mind, 2019
Sonia co-founded Body Brave with her mother Dr. Karen Trollope. It was a response to Sonia’s difficulties navigating the healthcare system in search of support during an 8-year battle living with an eating disorder. “Karen and Sonia quickly discovered the immense barriers that exist for those navigating the healthcare system in search of help. Everything from stigma, long-waitlists, lack of healthcare provider support and training as well as a lack of eating disorder awareness or funding. The families of those who suffer are also often left in the dark, without coping tools or concrete information”
With a focus on lived experience, capacity building and training, community care, innovation and unique scaling—Body Brave is set apart from other eating disorder services because it puts the person with lived experience (the client) first. Little did Sonia know, that she would be accepted in the SPARK 2019 Cohort a few years later.
Hamilton doctor inspired by daughter’s struggle with eating disorder launches Body Peace conference
"Running Oct. 4 through Oct. 6, the eating disorders and body image-focused conference is hosted by Hamilton's Body Brave organization — run by Trollope-Kumar and her daughter, Sonia Kumar-Seguin — in partnership with the National Initiative for Eating Disorders."
Made-in-Hamilton event celebrates success of local women
Posted by Amy Kouniakis, insauga.com
A made-in-Hamilton event commemorating International Women’s Day (Sunday, March 8, 2020) will celebrate the successes and entrepreneurial spirit of women in our city.
Another first-time panelist, Sonia Kumar-Seguin, hopes women will leave the event knowing that we’re all in this together.
“There are ways to support each other,” Kumar-Seguin, who is the executive director of Body Brave. “This type of event helps spread that awareness.”
Wellness and success can sometimes seem contradictory in a business setting but Kumar-Seguin says the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive — in fact, they go hand in hand.
“It’s really important for strong, successful women to be aware of their mental health,” she said. “Take care of yourself. It can only be good for your business.”
Brave Letters campaign calls for greater recognition and resources for the treatment of eating disorders
by Nick Fearns, Niagara This Week – Niagara Falls
Thursday, July 16, 2020
“To help shine a light on eating disorders and the negative impact they can have on people, Body Brave is encouraging community members to engage in its letter-writing campaign. Dubbed Brave Letters, people are encouraged to write to Canadian politicians and demand support for community based treatments so people can access the help they need.”
“One of the toughest parts, Pinelli said, is that was their disorder progressed, people would say how much better they looked. Then after a certain point, people began to ask if they were sick or unwell. They started to avoid those people and avoided their hometown.”
Eating disorders are spiking during the pandemic
By Dr. Karen Trollope, Chief Clinical Officer, Body Brave
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a serious public health crisis for people with eating disorders. In a recent article published by The Canadian Press (Jan 20, 2021), specialists from across Canada sounded the alarm about a dramatic increase in the number of adolescents seeking treatment. Many of these young people are very ill, at risk for dangerous medical complications of their eating disorder.”
“We need to strengthen community-based care, a key part of early intervention for eating disorders. Recently, the Australian government committed over $110 million for community-based care for eating disorders. But in Canada, most government funding for eating disorders goes into hospital-based treatment, which is expensive and inaccessible for most people. Canada is failing people with eating disorders.”
Saying No To Diet Culture
Source: The Hamilton Spectator, By Karen Trollope-Kumar, July 23, 2020
“As soon as this pandemic is over, I am going on a diet. Got to get rid of the Covid 15!” How many of us have heard or read words like these? In our diet-obsessed culture, we are bombarded with images of the “before” and “after” bodies, usually linked with an ad for the latest diet.
Our world is steeped in diet culture. Magazine racks are filled with images of Hollywood stars touting the latest diet; shelves of grocery stores contain an array of diet products; weight-loss businesses promise foolproof methods of achieving a thin body. All genders are affected by diet culture. For women, the thin body is idealized in the media; whereas for men it is the “lean and buff” body that is promoted. Transgender folks also feel pressure to alter their physical bodies, either by weight loss or through strength training.
But what actually happens when we diet? Research has shown that 95 per cent of people who go on a diet regain the weight they lost, and often end up heavier than before they started the dietary changes. For many people, this leads to a search for yet another diet, starting a cycle of yo-yo dieting that persists for years. For some people, their diet results in significant weight loss, yet they feel dissatisfied. In an elusive search to achieve the ideal weight, they strive for more and more weight loss — a dangerous quest that can lead to a serious eating disorder.
Diet culture permeates our daily life. If we decide to go to a gym to enjoy some exercise, we may be pressured to sign on to a “nutrition” program. Marketed as part of a healthy lifestyle change, these programs often turn out to be yet another diet. Personal trainers may focus on parts of the body that need changing, causing their clients to feel increasing body dissatisfaction.
Healthcare professionals also become entangled in diet culture. Dietitians often focus on weight loss regimens that ignore the complex factors that underlie weight gain. Doctors frequently advise weight loss, even for conditions where the link with body size is not well supported by scientific evidence. Naturopaths often prescribe rigid elimination diets to their clients as a way of addressing a host of different health concerns.
Diet culture is constantly shape-shifting – often under the guise of wellness, and sometimes under the guise of morality. The “Eat Clean” movement attributes moral weight to certain foods, which are considered “clean”. Other foods are to be avoided, resulting in a dangerous dichotomy of “good” foods versus “bad” foods. People who begin a regimen of “clean eating” often become more and more restricted in their food choices, which can spiral downwards until they are trapped in a full-blown eating disorder.
In the world of sports, diet culture manifests in particularly vicious ways. Athletes who compete in sports that promote a specific body aesthetic, such as ballet or gymnastics, are at high risk of developing an eating disorder. Competitive bodybuilders alter their diet drastically to build muscle and then deliberately dehydrate their bodies before a competition. Sports that involve competing in particular weight classes also involve risk for participants, who diet to be eligible for a lower weight class.
Body dissatisfaction starts early. We hear of children as young as eight restricting their food, perhaps because they have a parent who chronically diets. Some children are teased at school about their bodies, and these hurtful words can have a terrible impact on the child’s developing self-perception.
World Eating Disorders Action Day spreads message of support and awareness
Source: By Joanne Richard, Toronto Sun Published June 2, 2019
More than a million Canadians struggle with eating disorders yet there’s little help or support, report experts.
Today is World Eating Disorders Action Day, and advocates, health professionals, those affected and their families are highlighting why eating disorders can’t afford to wait.
Waiting is deadly: “Eating disorders kill more than any other psychological illness,” says action day co-founder Amy Cunningham, and the incidence of children with eating disorders is rising at an alarming rate.
They’re a devastating reality. According to Wendy Preskow, president of National Initiative for Eating Disorders at nied.ca, “There are over one million Canadians who meet the diagnostic criteria of eating disorders, plus the loved ones who care for them. That’s almost the entire population of Saskatchewan, like wiping an entire province off Canada’s map! The numbers are increasing daily and we can’t keep up.”
Worldwide more than 70 million people are impacted by eating disorders. “Awareness, treatment and support is severely lacking, particularly in Canada,” says eating disorder survivor and Body Brave founder Sonia Seguin. “We desperately need to take action.”
Seguin, 32, struggled with various eating disorders for eight years. “I came up against barrier after barrier when trying to access treatment and support including long waitlists and stigma. I came close to death many times during these years and my family suffered greatly.”
She was one of the lucky ones to finally access treatment and community support to “finally step out of the shame I had been living in for so long.”
Harmful stigmas abound. Seguin wants people to know that eating disorders are not a choice.
They’re not just about diet culture and caring too much about how you look. “Eating disorders have a strong genetic basis and are influenced by factors such as trauma, identity, life transitions, and systemic oppression.”
Two years ago, Seguin founded livingbodybrave.com with her mother, Dr. Karen Trollope-Kumar, a non-profit that fills a gap in eating disorder services. Body Brave is collaborating with NIED, researchers, and community-based organizations across Canada to drive the development of an innovative national e-learning platform aimed at caregivers, primary care providers and individuals recovering from eating disorders.