On Feb. 21, Active Minds hosted an event called Realities of Eating Disorders at UW-Parkside. Professor of ethnic studies Heather Kind-Keppel, who has a master’s degree in counseling, spoke at the event. The event brought to light how devastating an eating disorder can be, and how prevalent they are. According to Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders (ANRED), “Without treatment up to 20 % of people with a serious eating disorder die.”
Active Minds club
Active Minds is a club at UW-Parkside that was revived in the fall semester of 2017. The president is Robin Zelek. Active Minds is a mental health awareness group whose goal is to remove the stigma surrounding mental health. Zelek said, “We chose eating disorders because it’s a topic that is important and does not get talked about enough.”
Active Minds has suicide prevention training on March 7 at 5 p.m. in the Walnut Room at UW-Parkside. Last semester they held events teaching about Schizophrenia and mental health resources. Zelek said, “We plan to schedule more events and continue to educate and bring awareness of a variety of mental health issues.” They have meetings every Wednesday at 5 p.m. and more information is available on Campus Connect.
What is an eating disorder?
An eating disorder is a mental disorder, that is characterized by abnormal eating habits that negatively affect a person’s mental and physical health. Eating disorders can affect both men and women. Eating disorders can be invisible. It is a disease that you must learn to manage for the rest of your life. While treatment is an important step it is not enough by itself. There can be triggers that brings back the behavior.
Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder are the different disorders that were discussed at the Active Minds event. People with Anorexia Nervosa have an obsessive fear of gaining weight, and they fiercely limit the quantity of food they eat. Bulimia Nervosa is a cycle of binge eating, which uses vomiting, excessive exercise, and laxatives to compensate. In Binge Eating Disorder, people will lose control over their food consumption, but they do not try to compensate for it like Bulimia Nervosa.
Eating disorders are not really about the food, but more about control . Sometimes life is so chaotic that a person feels they just need control over something. It does not start out as a full-fledged disorder but can quickly turn in to one.
There are a variety of warning signs to watch for. Things such as chronic dieting, constant weight fluctuations, and obsession with calories and fat content are things to watch out for. They may also switch between periods of fasting and overeating. They can become withdrawn, depressed, lethargic, and isolated. There also tends to be ritualistic eating patterns.
The problem is that eating disorders can manifest in a myriad of ways in different people. If you are worried about someone, you need to ask them the hard questions. You need to pay attention and be an advocate for them. There is help, and they will need a solid support network to get this devastating condition under control.