| 03.17.2018

The beauty of community – Eating disorders effect many, but students should know they”re not alone


College can be a tremendously stressful time, but one of the best parts about the University of Idaho is the strong sense of community felt throughout campus.

It”s important for students to know they are not alone, that no one in the Vandal family is. Despite this, the unfortunate reality is that many students think they have to deal with difficult times on their own, or that they have to pretend like everything is OK all of the time.

The stress and anxiety that can accompany college isn”t always dealt with in the best of ways, and not seeking help for negative emotions or reaching out to loved ones for support could lead to the development of unhealthy behaviors, like eating disorders.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 20 million females and 10 million males suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder in their lifetime. These numbers have been growing at an increasing rate over the past few decades.

Many others struggle with liking or accepting their bodies.

Eating disorders are often accompanied by anxiety or depression and can lead to multiple health issues including heart problems, organ failure and, in the most extreme cases, death.

While eating disorders do often center around body image, they can also be caused by not processing negative emotions in healthy, constructive ways.

For those who are feeling stressed, alone, anxious or anything else, turning to coping mechanisms like eating disorders is not the answer – seeking help is.

We are deeply connected to each other, more so than many might think. Those close to us often see us better than we see ourselves.

UI alumna Amy Pence-Brown has the simple message, “All bodies are good bodies.”

Pence-Brown stood in the middle of a busy farmers market in a bikini, encouraging people to draw hearts on her.

Her speech at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Bruce Pitman Center International Ballroom is one of the many events for UI”s upcoming Body Positive Week. Students should take the time to attend these events and learn more about how to love their bodies.

Her message and the focus of Body Positive Week is important because body dysmorphia is an issue so many struggle with.

College comes with many expectations, and the expectations of how our bodies should be are not left behind.

UI has resources for anyone struggling with body image or eating disorders. The university”s campus dietician is available to recommend various ways to maintain a nutrient-rich diet and healthy lifestyle. The Counseling and Testing Center also offers a variety of counseling options to help students, faculty and staff who struggle with a variety of issues.

Reach out for help. Support each other. Each member of the Vandal family is important and valuable. We should help each other succeed.

– KH

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