Campus and city organizations offer resources for eating disorders

Anusha Lalani

For National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, several campus and city organizations highlighted their resources to help students cope with eating disorders.

Last week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, a week designed to help people understand various eating disorders and their causes, dangers and treatments.

The University’s “Love Your Body” campaign and Mindful Eating Program offered through University Health Services both provide support for students dealing with eating disorders, said Sherry Bell, UHS senior program coordinator. The Mindful Eating program offers counseling to help students deal with food, weight and body image concerns, according to the Counseling and Mental Health Center website.

William Mupo, UHS health promotions coordinator, said the Love Your Body campaign encourages students to see their bodies in a positive way.
“[This campaign] is an initiative that integrates positive body image, physical activity and nutrition to encourage students to practice healthy habits,” Mupo said in an email. “Research indicates that the practicing of healthy habits together (restful sleep, nutrition, physical activity) and having a positive self-esteem improve body satisfaction.”

There is a stigma around eating disorders in college, and people don’t understand the challenges many mental illnesses pose, said Allison Chase, executive director for the Eating Recovery Center in Austin, a health-care system specializing in the treatment of eating disorders.

“Those that suffer with eating disorders should not be looked at as being ‘weird,’ ‘messed up,’ or otherwise,” Chase said. “Often, these individuals are excellent students and engage in community and social activities. However, they are dealing with a significant amount of emotional distress and physical symptoms that they are attempting to hide in order to appear ‘healthy.’”
Chase said the pressure of having a ‘perfect body’ can start early in a person’s life but is more persistent in adulthood.
“In college, for many young adults, they are on their own for the first time, which can increase anxiety and also challenge their sense of themselves,” Chase said.