National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDA), starting last Monday, encouraged students and faculty to open up about the truth surrounding eating disorders. The Student Nutrition Awareness Club (SNAC), Minds Matter, The Engle Center and Residence Life Staff provided a safe space to foster communication about this important topic.
After gathering in Hess RD Amy Nichol’s apartment, SNAC representatives Michal Shelton, ’19, and Ella Gutman, ’18, began the night by reading stories of people who have struggled with eating disorders.
Shelton shared her own story with the group as well. Coming into Messiah she was struggling with anorexia and was helped by the Engle Center. “I’m further along in my recovery journey than I ever thought I’d be,” Shelton said. “It was only God who could help me get out of this.”
Gutman proceeded to read an email that was sent to her by blogger Hannah Durbin, who struggled with an eating disorder as well. “There is no universal way to eat,” Durbin said.
Campus Nutritionist Nicole Benner shared about what eating disorders are and how to spot the warning signs.
Eating disorders come in many different forms and affect everyone. “You can’t tell by just looking at a person if they’re struggling with an eating disorder,” Debbie Danielson, a counselor at the Engle Center, said. Many biological, psychological and sociocultural factors play into eating disorders.
“People need to feel the freedom to talk about struggles with food or body image without feeling they will be judged or looked down upon,” Shelton said. Having an open discussion about eating disorders is a step toward breaking the stigma surrounding them.