Chances are you or somebody you know has struggled with disordered eating. The Nutrition and Dietetics Club here on campus is hosting a week of activities during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, February 24th- March 2st, in hopes of educating students on the facts of eating disorders and what they can do if they or someone they know is struggling with disordered eating.
Did you know that eating disorders are potentially life-threatening illnesses that have severe physical and psychological implications? Eating disorders may be perceived as a fad or lifestyle choice but they are much more complex and require immediate professional help (National Eating Disorder Association). There are four types of eating disorders, including: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (National Eating Disorder Association). Contributing factors of eating disorders go beyond an obsessive preoccupation with food and eating. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, some of the most common contributing factors of eating disorders include: low self-esteem, depression, history of physical or sexual abuse, bullying, cultural pressures to have a certain body type, and genetics. All types of eating disorders may result in serious health consequences.
Understanding what to look for in your own behavior, or the behaviors of your friends and peers, is the first step in getting the help and treatment needed to combat disordered eating. Some of the behavioral signs and symptoms you should look out for are: extreme weight loss in a short period of time, avoidance of certain foods or the labeling of some foods as bad or off-limits, intense fear of becoming fat, excessive exercising, refusal to eat, depression, low self-esteem, and extreme guilt after eating (Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota, 2011).
There is a vast range of things you can start doing today in order to prevent eating disorders among your peers and even yourself. Vow to stop using negative body talk and start speaking kindly about yourself and your peers. Refrain from labeling certain foods as “bad” or “off-limits” and start choosing foods that will nourish your body and uplift your spirit. Learn to weed out the negative media influences that center around a “thin ideal” or perfectionism. Remember that physical appearance does not determine self-worth. And lastly, spread these messages of empowerment and love!
If you suspect someone you know may have an eating disorder, help them by following these tips outlined by the National Eating Disorder Association. First, learn the facts regarding eating disorders. This information can be found on the National Eating Disorder Association’s website or at student health services here on campus. Second, talk to them and be honest. Showing that you care is much more helpful than avoiding the subject just because it may be uncomfortable to talk about. Be a good role model by avoiding negative body talk and dieting obsessions. Compliment those you know on their accomplishments and personality, rather than on their appearance. Lastly, tell someone who may be able to help your friend treat their eating disorder. There is an educated community of health professionals here on campus eager to help. To learn more about campus resources or to schedule an appointment with a physician, contact Student Health Services as (541) 737-9355.
To learn more about eating disorders and how you can help prevent them, and access campus resources, participate in one of the following activities hosted by the Nutrition and Dietetics Club during National
Eating Disorder Awareness Week:
Monday, February 25th
Join us at the MU Quad from 10am-2pm to access information on eating disorders and positive body image.
Tuesday, February 26th
Tune in to KBVR Nutrition Now Radio to learn about eating disorders from a local Registered Dietitian, Therese Waterhous, who specializes in eating disorders.
Wednesday, February 27th
You can find us in the MU Quad again from 10am-2pm, as well as all throughout campus as we execute “Operation Beautiful” by posting positive messages. Join us by posting your own positive messages, either in residence halls, restrooms, at your job, or anywhere else you can, to help spread messages of love, acceptance, and positivity.
Thursday, February 28th
Join us in the Snell International Forum from 11am-12pm for a viewing of Beyond Killing Us Softly: The Strength to Resist. We will have a Q&A session after the video with a panel of professionals from OSU that work together in treating eating disorders here on campus. If you have any questions about eating disorders, this is a great time to have them answered! Light refreshments will be provided.