On Friday, February 28, the Wellness Center held an Eating Disorder Awareness event during common hour, aligning with National Eating Disorder Week (February 23-29). Director of Counseling Shivani Bhakta and Counselor Megan Turner organized the event with a focus on body positivity.
“Eating disorders are becoming more prevalent in the college-age population,” said Turner. “It is no longer just overeating, purging or restricting food intake that constitutes an eating disorder. It can also be the opposite; an intense or excessive need to be health-conscious or need to ‘watch’ what you eat. It can also be excessive exercising.” According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), an estimated 90-95% of college students diagnosed with an eating disorder belong to a fitness facility.
The Wellness Center held its awareness event in the dining room. “It can be thought that most people dealing with eating disorders would avoid the cafeteria, but it is actually common to have people have the desire to not be ‘discovered’ in the sense of having an eating disorder. This means they will come to the cafeteria in attempts to hide their food relationship or not have others raise concern.”
The Wellness Center staff posed a question to students: “What do I like about myself?” This question was meant to ‘create awareness of positivities in individuals’ as well as demonstrate how hard it can be to [be] positive at times. Staff also provided resources to students including general information about various eating disorders, how to approach a loved one who may be one’s source of help and contact information to national hotlines.
“Our goal in the Wellness Center is to provide the best care possible for students, this includes bringing awareness to various concepts that college students face,” said Bhakta. “We want to identify that those dealing with eating disorders are not alone, and we have the resources to help.” Students are encouraged to utilize the free services provided by the Wellness Center, located beside Toolen Hall. Please call 251-380-2271 for more information or to schedule an appointment.