Eating Concerns Week returns to campus
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 11:02
Agonizing over clothes that accentuate a slim body. Minutes spent zoned out on a scale number. Measuring tapes wrapped like ribbons around thighs while restrictions, anxiety and vulnerability cake the inside.
Sara Fechner had a friend in high school with an eating disorder. She didn’t know how to be supportive. She didn’t know what to do or what to say to help.
In college, Fechner became a nutrition major and an Eating Concerns Mentor. She wouldn’t be unprepared again.
“By joining ECMs, I found that I was able to feel better by helping others in that situation when I couldn’t help her then,” said Fechner, now a co-leader of ECMs.
From Feb. 24 through March 2, Eating Concerns Awareness Week will provide resources for people like Fechner and her friend. The ECMs will be in the Memorial Union Building to provide accurate information about eating disorders, concerns and body image.
“This event appeals to a variety of people because, as our theme states, everybody knows somebody,” Fechner said.
Friends, roommates and colleagues may have suffered paralyzing body-image thoughts themselves. That’s why this awareness week exists — to provide people with the resources and knowledge needed to get help or give it.
ECMs, as defined by the UNH Health Services website, are thoroughly trained UNH student volunteers. They provide support and information to those who ask.
Eating Concerns Awareness Week will have themed days to change negative thoughts around eating. ECMs will also be available for anonymous online chat Monday and Tuesday night.
Monday is Mirrorless Monday. Students who come to the booth can cover an image of themselves with positive notes.
Tuesday is Trash Fat Talk Tusday. What Inspires You Wednesday follows with Becky Thompson, activist and scholar in multicultural issues, speaking on eating disorders and body image. The event ends with the appropriate Thankful Thursday.
Booths in the MUB will give away Dove chocolates with inspirational quotes, free pencils with startling statistics and raffles for T-shirts and massages.
“Getting involved with ECM has made me realize that even the smallest amount of education and support can make a big difference,” ECMs Co-leader Emily Macdonald said.
Eating Concerns Awareness Week has support from UNH staff.
Rochelle L’Italien, UNH dining dietitian, said it’s an important week. “Eating disorders and body image are a complex, multi-layered issue,” she said.
For help, L’Italien said that Health Services, athletics, rec sports, and Dining Services all work to pinpoint issues in individuals as they see them. Often, these branches collaborate and refer students to help.
“Because you know if eating concerns go too far, you can put yourself at a health risk for sure,” L’Italien said. “So, knowing there are resources on campus that can help with that is very important.”
Eating concerns have become prominent on campus.
“The ECM program has received more requests this year than previous years combined,” Fechner said. “We aren’t allowed to release specific statistics, but yes, resources are utilized.”
With counseling on campus and all of the resources students can turn to, L’Italien doesn’t want students to waste their time.
“The sooner you can get back on track —or get on track — the better,” L’Italien said. “There is help.”