Program Philosophy

Ai meaning “to eat, nourish” and Pono meaning “with ease, naturally, in perfect order and wholeness.”

At the ‘Ai Pono Eating Disorder Program, we recognize that eating disorders are complex problems with psychological, emotional, nutritional, and biochemical components, but we do not view women who struggle with these problems as irreparably damaged. Rather, we see them as highly intuitive, sensitive beings who have developed an obsession with food, fat, and dieting as a way of coping with social and psychological stress.

“When a woman enters the labyrinth of recovery, she follows a twisting, winding path to her center.  Finding a sense of who she is as a woman, she exits with a new way of being in the world.”

– Eating in the Light of the Moon

We see the recovery process as a journey towards self-awareness. Through this journey, a woman can learn to nourish herself physically, as well as emotionally, and restore a sense of balance to her life. We believe that eating disorders can be successfully treated and overcome. A life of struggle and conflict can become one that is rich, meaningful, and fulfilling.

We provide a serene, nurturing setting in which women can be given a temporary reprieve from the stressors of their everyday life that may hinder the discovery of the deeper meaning embedded in their eating disorder symptoms. We believe that recognizing and identifying the adaptive function of the eating disorder can point one towards the development of life-skills necessary for resolving the eating disorder.

Our program offers tools to help identify, accept, and express our needs and feelings directly, rather than through our relationship with food and eating.

“Don’t get stuck looking at the finger pointing towards the moon. Look at the moon.”

– Zen saying

At ‘Ai Pono, we strive to provide an essential connection to one’s inner wisdom, or internal guidance system. We believe that this connection can provide women with a lifelong solution to specific struggles with eating, rather than a temporary fix. We believe complete recovery is possible.

“An eating disorder is like a weed: if you cut it off at the top, given the right circumstances, it can grow back. But if you go down and clear out its roots, it can be eradicated.”

– Anita Johnston, Ph.D.

By developing better skills for dealing with their bodies, their feelings, and their relationships, women who suffer with eating disorders can reclaim their lives and health.

‘Ai Pono Programs were built upon a philosophical foundation that stems from a belief that there is deep meaning to be found in the struggle with an eating disorder. This meaning, however, remains a mystery — buried beneath a myriad of painful symptoms — until those who struggle choose to resolve their specific eating problems and embark on the journey to recovery.