An Apple A Day: Time to love your body
Happy National Eating Disorders Awareness week! Did you know it was this week? Perhaps you have seen some advertising for great programming going on around campus, things like a documentary screening, discussions and free yoga.
The Counseling Center, in partnership with some other offices, have been providing these programs all week long to increase awareness on the topics of body image and eating disorders. Why should you take an active interest in these subjects?
Chances are you or someone you know is currently, or has been, struggling with issues surrounding body image and eating disorders. Research shows that around 95 percent of people suffering from eating disorders are between the ages of 12-25, and the amount of people suffering is in the millions.
Having positive body image is an important part of overall wellness. If you are constantly unhappy about yourself it will have a negative effect on your emotional and physical health (all areas of health are interrelated remember?)
When most people think of eating disorders they automatically think bulimia or anorexia—in actuality there are many more including body dysmorphic disorder and binge eating disorder.
Knowing how to recognize the signs of disordered eating and poor body image can make it easier to help yourself or a friend who may be in need. Some behaviors related to food include a person skipping meals, only eating tiny portions, not eating in front of others, food rituals, always has an excuse for not going to eat, secretly gorging, purging behaviors such as vomiting, diet pills or the use of laxatives.
In terms of other behaviors, a person may wear baggy clothes to hide their body, or may be constantly criticizing themselves. Other warning signs include excessive exercising, and changes in mood or level of sociability.
Now that you know what to look for, how do you help yourself or a friend who you feel may be suffering? The first step is to talk to them—express your concern. You can mention the behavior changes you have observed in a caring manner. Encourage them to talk to a professional. The Counseling Center on campus is a great resource for those struggling with these issues. It may be helpful to offer to walk your friend over to the Counseling Center to make an appointment—this will help support them and may make them feel more comfortable going. If you or your friend aren’t quite ready for an appointment be sure to check out one of their free online self-assessments or other great resources—towson.edu/counseling.
Most of us have moments when we wish we could change something about our bodies, but for some people these occasional moments become frequent moments. I challenge you to stop thinking in the negative when it comes to your body. If you have friends engaging in “fat talk,” stop them and try to gear the conversation toward everything you love about your bodies instead.