Counseling introduces eating disorder expert

As part of National Eating Disorder Awareness week, Adrienne Storm, counselor with Counseling Services specializing in eating disorders, is holding a discussion from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 25 in the Hilltop Lounge. The discussion will focus on defining eating disorders, as well as disordered eating, treatment, what leads to eating disorders and why disorders occur in the college population.

NEDA, Feb. 22 to Feb. 28, is the largest eating disorder outreach effort in the country, according to its Web site. The week began in 1987 with a mission to eliminate eating disorders, body image issues and the stigma around eating disorders.

Storm said eating disorders tend to occur during different developmental stages in life. They can develop in the college population because going to college is a major developmental milestone.

“You’re trying to develop a sense of self,” she said. “Being your own person and maybe you’re not ready.”

Eating disorders, however, are not about food. Eating disorders develop as a way for a person to deal with stress and anxiety from being away from home. Eating disorders can also give a person a sense of power, control or an identity during a time of major change, Storm said.

Eating disorders are not just a woman’s issue. In fact, eating disorders are on the rise in the male athlete and the gay male populations, Storm said.

Although Storm is new to Counseling Services, she believes the prevalence of eating disorders on campus is significantenough to call for an eating disorder specialist. Nationally 91 percent of women have used dieting to control their weight, 54 percent of men are unhappy with their weight and one in five women struggle with an eating disorder or disordered eating, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Storm said 15 percent of women between 17 and 24 have disordered eating. Disordered eating does not fit the criteria of an eating disorder, but is an obsession with weight, and is extremely strict with calories and exercise.

“(People with disordered eating) don’t look emaciated but if they gain five pounds it would ruin their day . weight still guides their image of who they are,” Storm said. “I think gobs and gobs of college students have disordered eating.”

Storm said students should attend the discussion to raise awareness and learn how to get help or help a friend.

“It can really ruin your life,” she said. “It’s one of the destructive habits people can get into in college like drinking and drugs.”

Counseling Services offers two eating disorder related groups. Body Love is a group focused on body image and self acceptance, and there is an eating disorder support group. For more information, or to schedule an appointment with Storm or another counselor, call Counseling Services at 836-5521.

For free online eating disorder screening, visit www.mentalhealthscreening.org/screening/welcome.asp
Who: Adrienne Storm, eating disorders specialist with Counseling Services
What: Discussion on eating disorders and disordered eating
When: 3 to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 25
Where: Hilltop Lounge, snacks provided