On Friday, March 2, Melissa Smith, director of ASCEND Clinic and registered dietitian, visited Uni to talk to students about eating disorders. Through a Jeopardy game and infographic handouts, students learned why eating disorders happen, how to identify them, and possible recovery techniques and resources.
Throughout the presentation, Smith reminded students that discussing eating disorders helps “break the stigma” surrounding them and “get real” about the facts. Smith went over some misconceptions regarding weight loss, such as “skipping meals is an effective way to lose weight.” Smith also explained that eating disorders are both mental and biological. The diagnostic process involves determining if there is an excessive amount of emotion attached to the person’s eating habits.
Students then brainstormed signs of eating disorders. Their list included inability to improve athletically, talking excessively about food or calories, compulsive exercise, exhaustion, and bad hair/skin/nail condition.
During the discussion, students asked about the demographics of eating disorders and other mental health issues that go along with them. Smith said that there is an increased risk for people involved in activities that emphasize aesthetics, such as gymnastics and bodybuilding, but eating disorders can occur among all populations. Eating disorders often accompany other mental illnesses, such as OCD, anxiety, and depression.
ASCEND Clinic is located on South Gregory St across from Kofusion. The clinic provides services such as meal support, mindfulness yoga, stress/anxiety support, and an Intensive Outpatient Program. Anyone can seek help from ASCEND Clinic, and no formal diagnosis is needed. More information at www.ASCENDchc.com.
DISCLAIMER: Eating disorders are considered the “extreme” cases of unhealthy eating habits and poor body image. However, a formal diagnosis is not the only indication that you need help. Consider consulting a doctor or counselor if you feel any of these issues apply to you.