Mar 3, 2009

NED Awareness Weekinforms, encourages students

by Danielle Talbert and Jennifer Schmidt

The battle against eating disorders has received more attention in recent years, yet the hidden nature of the habit and the cloying allure it offers to those desperate to change their appearance, creating a fight demanding persistence.

Some statistics report 91 percent of women in college have attempted to control their weight through dieting. Of those, 22 percent said they dieted often, according to nationaleatingdisorders.org.

“An estimated 10 percent of female college students suffer from clinical or sub-clinical eating disorders, of which over half suffer from bulimia,” Anne Collins, a clinical nutritionist and founder of the online Anne Collins diet, said.

In support of National Eating Disorder (NED) Awareness Week, Liberty’s Student Care Office partnered with women’s ministries from Feb. 22 to 28 to provide help for students struggling with eating disorders.

In the Religion Hall, a two-day, walk-through exhibit titled “Expressions from the Inside Out” addressed the struggles associated with eating disorders. The first section displayed Bible verses discussing true beauty, including Proverbs 31. The second part showcased many different mirrors, which caused observers to ponder: How do you see yourself? The third portion showed the media’s distortion of beauty. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty advertisement was playing, surrounded by quotes from people struggling with shame about their condition. A prayer room offered additional support and materials to students, and counselors were standing by to help students who wanted to talk. The prayer board was covered with prayer requests, praises and general comments marked by thoughtful openness.

Janet Brown, administrative assistant and life skills coordinator for the Student Care Office, said eating disorders are a huge issue on all college campuses.

“Our intention is to promote a healthy mind, body and spirit because the Lord cares about the whole body,” Brown said. “The focus of the exhibit was to get inside the mind of someone with the disorder so we can better help them.”

The exhibit was open to all students, faculty and staff who personally have experienced an eating disorder or know someone who has. Ministry majors were especially encouraged to visit the exhibit so they could be prepared to counsel those with eating disorders. When the exhibit came to a close, 350 male and female students had walked through.

Due to societal stereotypes, people often forget that men are also affected by eating disorders, either directly or indirectly. Brown explained that many men who are involved in athletic sports often succumb to eating disorders to reach or maintain an ideal weight. Many other men are affected indirectly because they do not know how to help a wife or girlfriend who has an eating disorder.

“This has also been good for faculty who do not know what to do with a student they know (who) is struggling with an eating disorder,” Brown said.

Along with the expressions exhibit, the Student Care Office and women’s ministries hosted a women’s health and wellness seminar on Thursday designed to promote overcoming eating disorders and creating a positive self-image. With almost 500 in attendance, Donna Barber spoke about women’s health, along with a representative from Light Medical. Thelma Wells discussed spiritual health and her abusive past, and Monica Rose, adjunct professor of women’s ministries, gave her testimony about struggling with an eating disorder during her teenage years.

A similar men’s seminar was held at the same time called the “Balanced Man.” Christian counselor Steve Baker, Ben Cook, a fitness director at the LaHaye Student Center, and football chaplain Ed Gomes all spoke on various aspects of having a healthy body and spirit.

“We are excited to offer something for everyone this year,” Brown said. “This year was the second that a women’s seminar had been held, and the first for the men’s.”

Brown said Liberty’s campus contains many resources to help students overcome struggles with eating disorders, and that they should be aware of supplemental programs offered by Sodexho and the LaHaye Student Center.

Not only does NED Awareness week encourage students to stay healthy and find counsel when needed, but it also helps students who are going into the ministry, according to Rose.

“The goal was not to have just another event on campus, but rather one that is meaningful,” Brown said.

Contact Danielle Talbert at
detalbert@liberty.edu

 


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