Love what’s on your plate

Malia Riggs, For the Review

A little self-love can go a long way, especially when dealing with the pressures of having an eating disorder.

Although it seems as though having an eating disorder is not common, it’s the exact opposite.

Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are all psychiatric diseases that are hard to deal with and can drastically alter daily life.

Eating disorders are biological components, meaning there is no cause or trigger that can start one. What heightens them is stress, societal ideals, and comparison to others.

“These are the sneaky disorders,” said Patty Haddeland, director of student, health wellness and counseling at Linfield.

“People are shamed into trying to hide them, and can get very defensive when confronted. It’s difficult to give up what you trust to work, especially when this is the one thing they can control.”

Given the majority of students are athletes here on campus, it is not uncommon to see some eating disorders in the athletic departments.

“There is a fine line to cross to be light enough to perform well in athletics, a lot of athletes with eating disorders do not get the protein they need and develop iron deviancies, which can cause a bad performance not only in athletics but academics too,” said Haddeland.

When an athlete doesn’t get enough nutrition in their system to do their work out, they completely deplete all their energy sources, and have no protein to rebuild muscles, which means there is no possible way for that individual to be at peak performance.

“I think it’s especially hard having an eating disorder and being an athlete, maybe even more so than someone who doesn’t do athletics. Because they are constantly around people who are fit and built to perform well in what they do,” said assistance swimming coach Erica Nelson.

“People stop eating to change psychical appearance, but that doesn’t reflect what’s happening on the inside,” said Nelson.

Having an eating disorder is very complex, not everyone shows the same signs and symptoms.

Some of the symptoms include always thinking about food, being hyper focused on specific things, excluding food groups at meals, and having restricted diets for no reason, to name a few.

“It’s hard to tell when someone has an eating disorder,” explained freshman Lexi Morse, “some do it because the disorder makes them see something they are not, and others do it because they think it will make them look better and that they can stop whenever they want to.”

Since eating disorders are anxiety disorders they are treated as such. They use the same medications and management on the health side, and are also treated by a team instead of just one counselor or doctor.

“These things can be emotionally painful to deal with. The struggle to function with a constant sense of dissatisfaction and unhealthy thoughts, we can be our own worst enemies,” said Linfield Dr. Susannah Townsend, “It’s a complicated disease and very difficult to treat, you can’t talk yourself out.”

What can help someone who has or is in the process of recovering from an eating disorder is support from friends and family.

The use of “I” statements instead of “you” statements goes a long ways in confrontation, pushing someone to get help is one of the worst things that can be done because defenses will go up.

The person suffering from the disease needs to express a readiness to get help.

“There has always been a high value on appearance in college, remind yourself that there is value over how you identify yourself, you are more than just looks. Who you are today may not be who you are by graduation or even Christmas break!” said Haddeland.

There is no shame in getting help when it is needed. Help is provided in the Wellness Center on the first floor of Walker Hall.