BYU Women’s Services and Resources kicks off Eating Disorder Awareness Week

The BYU Women’s Services and Resources awareness gallery provides eating disorder statistics and resources for recovery. The office is holding Eating Disorder Awareness Week from Feb. 16 to 20 with different activities each day. (Hannah Miner)

BYU Women’s Services and Resources kicked off its annual Eating Disorder Awareness Week on Feb. 16.

The week is scheduled with events that help students combat disordered behavior with food and body image. These involve speakers focused on eating disorder recovery and even yoga. 

The office introduced the “Tips on Intuitive Eating” campaign on Tuesday to encourage students to have a more healthy relationship with food. On Wednesday, it had students to go to the Women’s Services and Resources office to see a gallery of eating disorder statistics and resources for recovery. The gallery will be up all week.

Students can watch a video from keynote speaker Emily Fonnesbeck on Thursday. She will be offering advice to those who are afflicted with eating or body image struggles. There will be a TED Talk on Friday about disorder recovery and a mindful yoga class over Zoom Saturday.

For the full schedule and links to events, students can visit the Eating Disorder Awareness Week website.

“The goal of this campaign is to start the conversation about the reality of eating disorders. This is done by educating students on disordered eating, how to build positive body image and how to help someone who is struggling with an eating disorder,” WSR director Dixie Sevison said.

The campaign was created because people, especially young women, are most at risk for developing disordered eating during college years, she said. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) states that full-blown eating disorders typically begin between the ages of 18 and 21. 

“The campaign makes participants aware of multiple resources on and off campus,” Sevison said.

WSR nutrition and wellness consultant Savannah Parr said students who struggle with an eating disorder can gain advice, tips and self-help ideas from this week’s keynote speaker and TED talk video.

She offered tips on how family and friends can best help those who are struggling. “It’s very important to not comment on their bodies, even if you’re complimenting them. Do not comment on what they’re eating or not eating,” she said.

It’s important to be gentle and kind and show people love entirely unrelated to what their body looks like, she said.

“Compliment them on their personality, accomplishments, and pretty much anything besides their appearance. If you’re close enough with them that you feel like you can talk about or address their struggle, do it in a way that is not shameful, degrading or enforcing,” Parr said.

The WSR office offers a safe place for students to receive help for any problems they may be struggling with physically, mentally, academically or emotionally, program coordinator Eliza Lahti said. One resource offered is an eating disorder support group.

“It is led by a registered dietician and helps participants find healthy coping mechanisms, change destructive thought patterns, identify strategies for behavior change, set goals and establish a support system,” Lahti said, adding that everything shared will remain completely confidential.

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