Eating Disorder Help in Portland, Oregon with Nurse Practitioner Julie Foster of Pohala Clinic

Many of you know how my daughter was over-trained as an gymnast and ended up grossly underweight (BMI 14.5). Within a few months already thin she grew 3′ and did not gain weight. This is called the Female Athlete Triad:

  1. No Menses
  2. Tiredness
  3. Less intake than expended

Over the years I have educated myself, treated and coordinated care as a primary care physician with local eating disordered clinics, nutritionists, mental health providers. How humbling that I would have it happen to me even as a thoughtful vigilant medical provider.

My daughter’s experience brought a very personal eating disorder awareness to my practice I would not have had otherwise. I would like to share my journey with you to let you know that I am here to help all members of the family who want to find balance around food and a healthy body.

Eating Disorder Behavior in My Family

I realized that disordered eating and thinking is not as overt as what I had thought in the past.  As a result, I painstakingly reviewed my relationship and family history with food throughout my life. I realized that both my mother and father had eating disorders as well as other members in my family.  In order to be present to the needs of my daughter, I also had to look at my own relationship with food. 

I was naturally skinny most of my life, often accused of being anorexic when I was a competitive runner. I became a nurse, health conscious, and have bordered on orthorexia (an obsession with healthy eating) with good intentions. I personally was frightened to have gained 80# with my 1st pregnancy and wondered if I would ever lose it. Four years ago as I grieved my grandfather’s death, I found myself severely iron deficient with heavy menses. I was so fatigued, I stopped running.

Simultaneously we worked to re-feed my daughter. Her stomach had shrunk so much it could take over an hour to finish a meal. I sat with her and ate more as I worried about her eating.  It was then that I realized I binge eat myself and had been covering it up with my running. I live with social or personal anxiety and without the running to deal with this as well, I turned to food and gained 15 pounds.

 I felt my thinking pulled on a track of craving food. There is a positive outcome here. With the help of my counselor, naturopath, mindfulness, & self kindness…. balance returned. Compassion for myself and our society for what we face in our times has helped me find compassion around my own eating. 

What I Have Learned

1. It is not simply the parents fault (old theories blamed the mother) when a child has an eating disorder. Epigenetics play a role, like a flipping of switch. 
2. Be suspicious of weight loss in any child. 
3. What we say to children about food and bodies can trigger an Eating Disorder such as binge eating disorder. Teachers should never make a chart of students weight and BMI for others to see. 
4. Once an Eating Disorder such as anorexia is in place it creates a state of mind that cannot change unless the person is re-fed with real food, correction of brain chemistry.
5. Striving to be healthy can lead to an extreme, as an illness.  This is called orthorexia and is often referred to as an obsession with clean eating. 
6. With the right help Eating Disorders can be HEALED.

Vera Vos family nurse practitioner and myself excel in recognizing and supporting patients with Eating Disorders, present and past. If you want a provider who is conscious with their approach in words and deeds,  we are here.

Visit our Pohala Clinic contact page to make an appointment.

Julie Foster

Family Nurse Practitioner Vera Vos in Portland, Oregon Shares her Journey

Vera Voss

We love the diversity of our practitioners at Pohala Clinic.  The goal is to provide a variety of integrative and functional medicine practitioners who offer specific talents in order to fit individual client needs.

In this post,  Vera Vos talks about her path to becoming a family nurse practitioner in Portland, Oregon, her medical philosophy and how she approaches her work with new clients.  The compassion and enthusiasm Vera shows with all of her clients shines through when she talks bout her practice.

A Journey from Research Biologist to Family Nurse Practitioner

Before becoming a nurse practitioner, I was a research biologist doing field biology to determine health of animal populations. I found that disease and decreasing populations of animal species was always related to the health of their environment. After becoming a mother and experiencing first hand how human infants are so much like any other infant in the wild, I had an epiphany. We are like all other animals in that our health is also very much related to our environment. At that point diabetes and heart disease were on the rise as well as mental health problems.

I was passionate about helping people understand how our human culture and environment in many ways sabotages health (bad food, lack of movement, distractions, etc) and how to change personal habits to overcome those obstacles.

How Dr. Vos Works with New Clients at Pohala Clinic 

The first time I see someone, I like to listen to what they have to tell me. Of course I ask about past medical history, medications, etc, but mostly I ask them what they value about their own health and what they would like to change. Beyond physical health we talk about challenges and rewards in their personal lives related to family, social group and work as well as what brings them pleasure and what is difficult. I really get to know clients that way and this helps me see the bigger picture besides just their pathophysiology.

Views on Western and Easter Medicine

I don’t think of it as one vs the other. There are things to be learned and appreciated in both. I think the problems in western medicine stem from the stranglehold of financial stakeholders, not from the science itself. It’s the stakeholders that have preempted everything except pharmaceuticals and surgery to solve dis-ease. Unfortunately, this bias has resulted in managing disease instead of targeting and eliminating causes. Eastern medicine offers more options, but the emphasis is still on medicinals, usually plant based.

I have learned that most of what ails us comes from the outside. There is nothing wrong with us as human organisms. In fact, the more I learn about human biology and physiology (and we are not even close to knowing everything) the more amazed I am at the perfection of us. My goal is to use the best that I know of both western and eastern medicine coupled with mindfulness to quiet the “monkey” mind to help clients structure their lives to promote health and happiness.

When it comes to patients, I like all kinds of people of all ages. That’s why I’m a Family Nurse Practitioner. I love seeing kids because there is so much potential there to support healthy growth. But I also really like adults, both men and women as we work through issues together over time.

Vera Vos Hours at Pohala Clinic 

Monday and Tuesday all day and specific Friday mornings by appointment.

Please visit our Pohala Clinic Contact page to book an apportionment with Dr. Vera Vos.