With a new name in place, a recognized student organization for eating disorders is using this week as a chance to combat stigmas.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Nebraska Eating Disorders Network, once known as Healthy Outlook Peer Educators, has partnered with Counseling and Psychological Services, Big Red Resilience & Well-Being, Campus Recreation and Nebraska Athletics for “Eating Disorders Awareness Week.”
According to CAPS counselor and NEDN co-advisor Jenifer Manstedt, the event is designed to give people more resources and information about the subject during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
On Monday, Feb. 24, a 2015 documentary about body image called “The Illusionists” was played in the Nebraska Union. There will be a booth at the union on Wednesday called “Trashing Negative Self Talk” and there will be a luncheon and a Zumba Class at the union on Friday. The week will conclude on Sunday with Body Positive Mind Preparation in the Campus Recreation Fitness Room.
Additionally, the week features the “If You Want a Cookie, Have a Cookie” event on Tuesday and Friday. CAPS director and NEDN co-advisor Tricia Besett-Alesch said the cookies are intended to counteract a popular rumor about eating disorders.
“The purpose of the cookies is to dispel the myth that food, or certain types of food, is the key issue when one struggles with an eating disorder or body image concerns,” Bessett-Alesch said. “UNL NEDN wants students to feel comfortable eating something they enjoy, regardless of what it is.”
The goal of the week is to inform people about what eating disorders are. According to Manstedt, another one of the goals is to raise awareness about the tools the UNL NEDN organization can provide.
“The goal for the RSO is to help promote support and resources for college-age students struggling with body image concerns, eating disorders or disordered eating patterns,” Manstedt said.
This week of events is an extension of those resources that the RSO can provide. Manstedt and Bessett-Alesch want people to understand that eating disorders can be common, especially among college-age students.
“The events during Eating Disorders Awareness Week provide increased awareness about body image concerns and eating disorders within the college-age population,” Manstedt said.
According to the advisors, awareness on the subject isn’t where it should be. Manstedt and Bessett-Alesch hope this week can help raise awareness that anyone can suffer from an eating disorder, and people who do deserve to have the resources.
“Eating disorders and body image concerns do not discriminate,” Bessett-Alesch said. “Anyone can struggle with them, even a classmate, close friend, partner or family member. We hope students learn more about the warning signs of negative body image or disordered eating so that we can help prevent eating disorders.”