Does it surprise you that a culinary experience can help you heal from an eating disorder? Maybe it’s not that simple, but the emotions you associate with food change when you walk through the front doors of an Aster Springs facility. Their culinary program marries intuitive eating principles with learning that all foods fit.
However, there is so much more. Come! Walk through a day in the life of an IOP and meet the therapists, nutritionists, and other team members. And don’t forget the chef! But first, what the heck is an IOP?
What Does IOP Stand For?
Are you wondering what IOP stands for and how being an IOP can make a difference in your life? IOP stands for intensive outpatient program. Let me answer your next question. What is an intensive outpatient program?
An intensive outpatient program bridges the gap between your discharge from the full-time residential program and going home. It offers a supportive environment to continue working on your skills and recovery goals as you transition to living independently. Aster Springs has IOPs in several cities and states.
What Exactly Is an Aster Springs Facility?
Aster Springs functions under the auspices of the Odyssey Outpatient Network, which treats various mental health illnesses. The facilities center on eating disorders and other accompanying mental health issues. Their home-like facilities in several states make you feel comfortable during therapy sessions and in the kitchen.
The staff is empathetic and non-judgmental and helps you to identify underlying issues. They collaborate with you to create a treatment plan and recovery goals. So, what is the first step to participating in an IOP?
Admission and Assessment
You begin the process by calling and speaking with a member of the admissions team. They will ask you for your personal information, medical history, and insurance benefits to determine if Aster Springs is a good fit. Once your insurance and payment plan are verified, you will complete a phone assessment and receive an admission date.
Expect a warm welcome from the staff when you arrive at Aster Springs. A nurse will conduct an in-person assessment, take your vital signs, ask about current symptoms, and ensure your health is stable. Once admitted to the program, someone will give you a tour of the building.
What Happens Next?
Aster Springs will tailor your recovery to your specific needs. Three-hour day and evening programs are held three to five days a week. According to your recovery plan, different therapies, ranging from cognitive behavioral therapy to art and yoga, are available based on your needs.
A Culinary Experience
The kitchens in the Aster Springs facilities ring with laughter and chatter as cooking and food transform into a healing event. The lessons learned become part of the fabric of long-term recovery. The culinary program is founded on two premises. The first one is that everyone is born to eat intuitively. Your body gives cues about what to eat and when. The second premise is that all foods fit into your meals and snacks. Food is not moral, and one choice isn’t better than another.
So, if all food is fit to eat and our bodies are designed to cue us into a healthy eating pattern, what happened? The simple answer is life happened. Nutritional regimens learned in childhood and punitive food experiences have affected the innate knowledge and enjoyment of food consumption. These factors have culminated in many suffering from eating disorders.
However, the culinary therapy program in the IOP at Aster Springs brings a chance to embrace a new perspective. They make food a healthy and happy experience once again. The program helps clients to:
- Shop, plan, and cook healthy balanced meals
- Make cooking and eating a community experience
- Receive support from the staff
- Enjoy a fun and therapeutic environment to overcome fear and enable healing and change
What Does a Day or Evening Program Look Like in an IOP at Aster Springs?
Each day or evening is divided into three blocks with a wrap-up at the end. Come early to say hello and calm your mind. Nothing is worse than being flustered from being late. You will go directly into your first one-hour session, which might include therapy or a cooking group. The next session is dinner, and the final session will be another therapy session, such as expressive therapy or an educational session on nutrition or meal planning. The informal wrap-up allows clients and staff to connect.
The IOP gives you vision to walk out the door, secure in the knowledge that you can have the tools to handle the eating disorder that has been weighing you down. Find the location nearest you. We hope to see you soon.
Alice Blackmore, MN, RN, Content Writer
Alice Blackmore is a freelance writer, registered nurse, and owner of Insightfulnursing.com. She has expertise in pediatrics, maternal health, critical care, and long-term care. She now shares her years of experience through writing.