Our Program: Behavioral Therapy

Our Program: Behavioral Therapy

Donna Foster: Associated Eating Disorder Specialist

When it comes to helping treat those suffering from eating disorders, Donna Foster, RD,LD has an impressive breadth of experience and knowledge making her one of the region’s top specialists in the field.

For over 20 years, Donna Foster has been a practicing registered and licensed dietitian and nutrition therapist with extensive experience in the areas of compulsive eating, eating disorders, addictive eating and weight issues. She has also trained with some of the most highly regarded professionals in the field, making her extremely knowledgeable on how to treat these disorders.

That expertise has been manifested into the Kentucky Center for Eating and Weight Disorders. For the past 12 years, she has served as the director of this facility, which is the only eating disorder treatment center in Kentucky. By using a holistic approach to heal the relationship between food and the body, she has assisted a number of individuals suffering from anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorders.

Because there’s so much shame and embarrassment associated with eating disorders, Donna believes it’s important to first break the denial and admit there’s a problem in order for treatment to begin. “Eating disorders are a disease. It’s not their fault that they have it (the disorder), but it is their responsibility to do the work so they can recover,” she said.

According to Donna, at the root of eating disorders is often trauma and pain, which is manifested into denial and shame. Other contributing factors to these disorders are the images and videos that regularly bombard social media and the internet which subliminally convey that only certain body types are ideal. And because eating disorders are more prevalent in women than men with a ratio of 10 to 1, this can have a detrimental effect on the psyche of those who are battling with problems with self-esteem and body image. “We live in a toxic culture that places the focus on appearance and tells us there is only one size that is acceptable,” she said.

The following symptoms are indicators that healing is needed and that the relationship with food needs to be seriously addressed:

  • Feelings of hopelessness and despair and/or obsessive thoughts about eating and/or weight
  • Reaching for food as a source of comfort or companionship
  • Patterns of weight gain and/or regaining after several attempts at dieting
  • Unable to commit and/or follow through with weight loss even though the tools and information have been made available

Donna is committed to helping individuals develop their own program of recovery and in the process create healthier, happier lives. She emphasizes the importance of mindful eating and creating structured eating habits, specifically maintaining protein in the diet to help stabilize blood sugar, which will help improve health. In addition, she teaches self-care skills with an emphasis on the development of self-respect, self-empathy and self-love, all within a peaceful and comforting environment.

Donna finds it extremely rewarding to watch her clients get the help they need and transform their lives. One of her favorite quotes is by Carl Jung: “We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” So for those who are suffering, Donna says the first step is to accept that help is needed and then reach out for assistance.

Nan Ogger

At first glance of Nan Ogger’s résumé of her accomplished career in counseling, you would think this working wife and mother of three has it all together. But she’d be the first to tell you that she has often faced challenges with balancing it all, including making time for herself. As the Behavior Specialist at MBL, Nan is extremely excited to be working with patients on their own balancing of lifestyle challenges and barriers that often interfere with weight loss goals. Common challenges include stress eating, emotional eating, boredom eating, uncontrolled eating, self sabotage, lack of pre-planning, or inability to take time for self. She assists patients by developing healthier habits through behavioral modification techniques to help meet their goals. “Dr. Higgins (Formerly Swindler) is very caring, supportive and extremely knowledgeable, and I am excited to join this team and be able to get to know, and help ‘coach’ people to a healthier lifestyle.” Nan was born and raised in Western Kentucky. She attended Murray State University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work and a minor in Child Development. She moved to Lexington, where she was accepted into the Master in Social Work Program at the University of Kentucky. She later worked as a clinician at Bluegrass Community Health Center. During her 9 years there, she carried a case load of about 100 patients with a wide range of mental health and behavioral conditions and provided psycho-social work, discussing their care and ensuring their health needs were met. She also earned a Certified Social Work (CSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). She has done private counseling with a concentration in adolescent and family counseling and was a counselor/social worker at Fayette County Public Elementary Schools for about six years. She then accepted a social work / child guidance position and continued to work with Fayette County Public Schools until 2010. It was there that she saw first-hand the impact of obesity in the school system. “I’ve seen that about 75% of kids are overweight or obese. It’s the middle area or visceral fat which is the medically really dangerous fat. The healthy lifestyle that Medical Bariatrics of Lexington’s program endorses will be especially beneficial to students.” After this position, Nan continued to provide part-time private practice, working with women dealing with post-partum issues, young mothers, and adolescents. She took time to focus on raising her daughters, but missed counseling, and wanted to get back to what she truly loves: helping people achieve their goals. “It’s important to take time out for your relationship with your spouse, have special dates with your kids, but also to set aside the time for yourself; you just have to do it. You’re a better parent, spouse, employee, and friend … better everything when you take care of yourself.” In order to make a real change and have a lasting true weight reduction, Nan stands by the rules of five: 5 seconds, 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, 5 weeks, 5 months and 5 years. “I believe in the rules of five. It has longevity in it. It’s not something that you say, ‘Ok, I’m going to change something today.’ It takes dedication, regular and constant commitment.” She added, “The thing about weight loss is that it’s not just a diet, it has to be a lifestyle change. I think that’s where people run into issues. If you think of it as a diet, I don’t think you’re going to have the long-time changes that you want.” Nan, a wife and mother of 3, also enjoys learning to play golf, gardening, UK and U of L sports, and reading in her spare time. Her favorite motto: “I believe the worse thing anyone can have in their lives is regret,” she said. “Go for your dreams, go for your goals. Don’t regret not taking time for yourself, don’t regret not losing the extra weight so you feel better about yourself. Don’t regret. Try. Go for your dreams.” Nan is excited to help patients at MBL beat their lifestyle challenges through behavioral modification techniques to help achieve their goals and improve their health and overall happiness.