Posted at 11:35 a.m., Feb. 17, 2015

Be aware, be informed, be in control

Campus to hold events about National Eating Disorders Awareness

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is Feb. 22-28, and Laramie County Community College’s counseling and campus wellness department is helping spread the word about eating disorders with activities on campus during the week.

Exact dates and events are still being scheduled, but awareness is available all year-round at LCCC counseling and campus wellness office. Ideas for the upcoming events include students writing positive affirmations to share on a public wall as well as a repeat of last year’s Smashing Scales event where students were given the opportunity to take a sledgehammer to a bathroom scale.

The 2015 national theme for awareness week is “I Had No Idea,” building on the thought that eating disorders—and whom it affects—are not well-known. Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Anorexia, bulimia and binge eating are just a few types of disorders that affect both men and women of all ages and backgrounds.

Mindy Falkner, a counselor at LCCC, said she began to see the signs of eating disorders in the world around her as young as junior high: “I would see my classmates or friends, you know, saying, ‘Oh, I didn’t eat today’ or ‘I just threw up my lunch.’“ Falkner continued that negative body image contributes in large part to people developing eating disorders and is why LCCC will participate in this year’s awareness week.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) website, 30 million men and women are suffering or have suffered from a significant eating disorder at some point in their lives. The website also indicated eating disorders affect more people than Alzheimer’s disease, autism and schizophrenia combined, but it continues to receive less research funds than any of the three.

Eating disorders commonly hidden

“I think it’s more common than people think,” Falkner said. “And a lot of people hide it because they’re ashamed of it.” Falkner also said the same fear and shame that prompt someone to hide his disorder can cause him to keep it hidden. “It’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of,” she said.

People develop eating disorders for many different reasons. One of the main reasons is to form a sense of control in one’s life, Falkner said. When someone feels as if his life is out of control, he might take comfort in controlling what he puts inside his body.

“And that can be very powerful for people that are having struggles elsewhere in their lives,” she said.

If someone suspects he himself or someone he knows might have an eating disorder, Falkner said: “The best thing a person can do is just be there for the other person. And bring it to the light. Say: ‘I’ve noticed that you’re struggling with this. How can I help you?’”

LCCC counseling and campus wellness is a good place to start, too. Falkner said center personnel are more than happy to help students however it can. “If we don’t have all the resources to help somebody, we will definitely help them find those resources,” she said.

Counseling and campus wellness is situated in the College Community Center, Room 129.

LCCC Counseling and Wellness

National Eating Disorders Awareness website