Dr. Anita Johnston

Eating Psychology Pioneer, Storyteller, Author of Eating in the Light of the Moon

Dr.
Anita
Johnston

Eating Psychology Pioneer, Storyteller, Author of Eating in the Light of the Moon

Why do so many girls and women struggle
with food, eating, and the way their bodies look?

Why is the struggle around food and body image?

And why is it that this struggle so pervasive for females today?

Have you ever wondered about that?

Well, I have…

 

This is something I have been curious about for as long as I can remember and I have made it my life’s work to find answers.

My Story

My Story

I grew up in a multi-ethnic household with a very strong mother-line on the island of Guam…

The women in my extended family were prominent leaders in the community and often used storytelling as a way to convey important messages.

I remember my grandmother repeatedly telling me, “Anita, we are not here on this planet just to take up space.” I knew by heart the stories of how she had created the first high school, the first Girl Scouts, and the first Red Cross on the island, and about her courageous acts as a leader of the underground resistance movement during a three year torturous Japanese occupation in World War II, so I understood what she meant.

If we noticed a problem, it was our job to try to solve it. If others were suffering, we needed to help as best we could.

In the early 1980’s while supervising a psychology doctoral student who was studying the incidence of eating disorders in Hawaii, it became apparent that there was a big problem in this area with no resources available whatsoever. Bulimia had just been diagnosed and Binge Eating Disorder had yet to be recognized.

So, along with two other women I founded the Anorexia & Bulimia Center of Hawaii and quickly discovered the truth in the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” Although no males showed up back then, females from all walks of life, all ages, all ethnicities, all sizes, with different sexual orientations and from different socioeconomic backgrounds came seeking help around many different kinds of struggles with eating, food, and their bodies.

In the early 1980’s while supervising a psychology doctoral student who was studying the incidence of eating disorders in Hawaii, it became apparent that there was a big problem in this area with no resources available whatsoever. Bulimia had just been diagnosed and Binge Eating Disorder had yet to be recognized.

So, along with two other women I founded the Anorexia & Bulimia Center of Hawaii and quickly discovered the truth in the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” Although no males showed up back then, females from all walks of life, all ages, all ethnicities, all sizes, with different sexual orientations and from different socioeconomic backgrounds came seeking help around many different kinds of struggles with eating, food, and their bodies.

ABC Hawaii launched me headlong into trying to answer these questions: What was the common denominator, here? What was the thread that connected these girls and women who were struggling with disordered eating patterns and negative body image?

Back then, a common theory was that trauma led to eating disorders. But while some of them definitely had experienced severe trauma, there were others who came from loving in-tact families and reported no trauma whatsoever.

As a clinical psychologist, I had been trained in story listening, and having been raised with indigenous methods of storytelling, it was natural for me to listen to their stories as carefully as I could, and with as much curiosity as I could muster, to find the hidden causes and meaning of this struggle.

What I discovered and wrote about in Eating in the Light of the Moon, was this…

As very young girls, these women were gifted with an exceptional ability to perceive subtle realities: they could read between the lines, see the bigger picture, notice hypocrisy, and sense when things weren’t right.

 

However, when they voiced the truth of their perceptions they were often dismissed as of being “too” sensitive and accused of over-reacting. Over time they came to believe that there was something wrong with them, something that could be fixed — if only they could lose weight.

Their obsession with food and fat became a way to dim their light, to diminish their ability to see what others around them couldn’t, in an attempt to fit-in and feel like they belonged.

The Log

Using the metaphor of “a log in a river” to understand the recovery process…

Biography

International speaker, Author,
Eating Disorder Professional

Anita Johnston, Ph.D., CEDS is a clinical psychologist and certified eating disorder specialist and supervisor, working in the field of women’s issues and eating disorders for over 35 years.

She is the author of the best selling book, Eating in the Light of the Moon and co-creator of the Light of the Moon Cafe, a series of online interactive courses and women’s support circles, and Soul Hunger workshops. She is currently the Clinical Director of Ai Pono Hawaii eating disorder programs with out-patient programs on Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii, and an ocean-front residential program on Maui.

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Work With Me

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