Most people think of eating as a simple part of everyday life. For some people, however, eating becomes a daily struggle.
On Thursday, March 25, a student panel on eating disorders was held in the Sadler Center York Room. Four College of William and Mary students who have struggled with these disorders, as well as the mother of someone diagnosed with an eating disorder, gathered to speak to others about their conditions of the diseases.
The panel on eating disorders was part of Love Your Body Week, an event sponsored by the student CARES team (Collegiate Awareness Regarding Eating Smart). Love Your Body Week, described on wm.edu as “a week dedicated to raising awareness of eating disorders and body image issues at the College of William and Mary,” was a series of daily events from March 25 to April 1.
Carina Sudarsky-Gleiser, assistant director of the Lollege Counseling Center and herself once a victim of an eating disorder, led the panel by asking the students basic questions about their struggles. The students responded based on their experiences.
The students named a number of reasons for the development of their disorders. Several said they needed control and could only get it by refusing to eat. Others cited pressure from family, low self-esteem and diets gone wrong. They all hid their eating disorders from family and friends, but all eventually began the process of recovery. Several claimed to be still recovering.
One thing on which the students agreed was that sometimes people have little sensitivity toward the issue.
“People say, ‘Just eat,’ and I’m like, you have no idea what’s going through my head right now,” one student at the panel said.
“Being anorexic is not [the same thing as] having a lot of self-control,” another student said.
Catie Duckett ’12 is the incoming president of CARES. Along with the other students on the CARES team, she put together much of Love Your Body Week. Duckett said help for eating disorders is present on campus, but few people know about it.
“A lot of people don’t realize [the services are there],” Duckett said. “We try to promote them, but the Counseling Center is understaffed. Also, it’s hard to admit this kind of problem.”
Students looking for help with eating disorders can contact the Student Health Center, CARES, the Mental Health and Wellness committee or the Counseling Center.
“For eating disorders, we take a team approach to treatment,” Marcia Dadds, a nutritionist at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center who also works with Student Health, said. “[The team includes] a dietitian, a therapist, and a medical doctor. I do individual counseling.”
Dadds said she works with two to three people a week for eating disorder counseling. The number of students who come in for help with this condition varies. Dadds pointed out that there are many more people who struggle with an eating disorder than people who in for help.
“Aside from it being hard to admit, there is also a financial consideration,” Dadds said. “Insurance is not good about nutrition.”