Laura Collins

Adversity: 14-year-old daughter diagnosed with anorexia nervosa

Advocacy: Founded a nonprofit for others with loved ones with eating disorders

“We can learn from one another, and we can stand together internationally and make a difference in caring for those with eating disorders. We can save them.”

In 2002, Laura Collins’ 14 year old daughter Olympia was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. She and her husband took Olympia to therapy — and were advised to stay out of her recovery. Collins says they were fired by the therapist for insubordination, but as they managed their daughter’s care themselves, Olympia improved. Collins is a believer in evidence-based treatment, a science she says is being ignored. “When I heard that my daughter had a one-in-10 chance of dying from this strange behavior that she had developed, I was paralyzed,” she says. “When I learned that it was treatable and that she could regain a normal life, but that I was going to have to do some hard work, I didn’t mind the hard work.”

Six years after her daughter was diagnosed, Collins founded F.E.A.S.T. (Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders) to assist parents caring for loved ones who have a biologically based brain disorder. “The first thing I would say to a parent in similar circumstances is ‘This is not your fault. This is not your child’s fault.’ This is important, as this is not the message they are going to automatically hear.” A beacon of hope, Collins believes full recovery from eating disorders is not only possible, but should be expected. Collins is the Executive Director of F.E.A.S.T., the author of “Eating With Your Anorexic,” and is a featured speaker at international eating disorder conferences.

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