Selah Vetter, Contributing Writer
On Feb. 21, Samford University’s Counseling Services & Wellness Office hosted a panel of local therapists and nutritionists to discuss eating disorders and body image in Brock Forum.
The panel consisted of Anna Stanley, Suzanne Pirkle, Amber Parris, Amy Claire Grisham and Alice Churnock. These five women are employees at Covenant Counseling and Education Center and Castlewood at The Highlands. In the discussion, they addressed the various forms and causes of an eating disorder and how to recover. Students were also able to ask questions.
According to the panel, there is a spectrum of eating disorders. Professionals determine the type of eating disorder by how much it is interfering with one’s life. The five types of eating disorders are: anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, purging and orthorexia. It is common to associate eating disorders with being skinny, but one cannot detect an eating disorder simply by body type, gender or age. Eating disorders look different on those affected due to what end of the spectrum he or she is on.
An eating disorder is not developed from one cause. Sometimes, an eating disorder is biological or family genetics. However, most cases are due to numerous life circumstances that cause a person to emotionally react to food.
“If you are concerned, there is probably some sort of problem,” Anna Stanley said.
The panel addressed society’s harmful diet culture, which moralizes and demoralizes certain foods. This view on food causes the brain to believe that certain foods will cause weight gain or weight loss. The panel emphasized the importance on neutralizing food and understanding that your body recognizes all food as the same.
“Your environment impacts what you are comparing yourself to. Your job is to learn how to live in the world as yourself,” Stanley said.
The group advised students to seek professional help if they or their friend has an eating disorder. Every person with an eating disorder has a different form and each must be treated differently.
There is a nutritional and emotional component to recovery. Treatment for an eating disorder must involve team effort.
“I try to help the client decipher between what is emotionally driven and what is biologically driven. At the end of the day, you are the rule, not the exception, and there are rules that keep our body alive,” Suzanne Pirkle said.
For students seeking help, the office of Counseling Services & Wellness Programs at Samford University offers treatment and recovery for eating disorders. Counseling Services are located in DBH 203 and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-726-4083