Bronco Wellness Center hosts eating disorder workshop as part of awareness efforts

By Alexander Osornio, Mar. 9, 2012

In conjunction with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, The Bronco Wellness Center hosted an Eating Disorder Educational Workshop on Feb. 26. The workshop focused on explaining aspects of the most common eating disorders, raising awareness on how students can help those living with eating disorders and offering resources available on and off campus.

The workshop also examined statistics on the prevalence of eating disorders. A 2011 study showed that eating disorders increased by 17.1% in males and 9% in females over a 13-year period. The Body Project, a peer-led, on-campus group that serves to reinforce positive self-image, was highlighted during the event.

Shalis Danayan, peer health educator at the Bronco Wellness Center and peer leader for The Body Project, affirmed the goal of the project is to offer ways for participants to build body acceptance and be able to have conversations surrounding these issues.

Despite having to hold sessions remotely over Zoom, Danayan said that participants are still able to have these conversations.

“What’s really big is the understanding that what’s discussed in the Zoom sessions is not going to leave the Zoom session,” she said.

Courtesy of Denise Yokota.

Danayan said that one subject that the Body Project focuses on is the appearance ideal, which is “the ‘perfect’ idea of what a person should look like.” One of the goals of the project is to affirm that these standards are always changing and is not something worth pursuing.

An exercise that Danayan incorporates into The Body Project is asking participants to write letters to their younger selves or to someone else in their life who struggles with self-image. After writing these letters, the group meets again to share these letters with each other if they are comfortable.

Denise Yokota, another peer health educator at the Bronco Wellness Center who hosted the educational workshop, stressed that “eating disorders don’t just exist one week in February” and that people should keep educating themselves in order to support those who live with eating disorders.

Yokota spoke on how other factors of a person’s life, such as stress from family and friends or anxiety over body image, can cause someone to develop an eating disorder and that the best way to help is by showing constructive support rather than criticism.

“I really hope that people understand that people don’t choose to have eating disorders,” Yokota said. “They just kind of happen and we need to be working together to help others get through that experience.”

Yokota hopes to dispel misconceptions surrounding eating disorders and whom they affect.

She said, “Who are we to just say only young girls get to face eating disorders?”

Regarding how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the state of those with eating disorders, Yokota said that a positive aspect of the pandemic is that mental health issues are being taken more seriously.

“When we were out and about, it was easier to find those distractions or talk about other things,” she said. “Now, we’re forced to reflect on ourselves and our habits and see how other people are doing.”

According to Dulce Farias, a health educator at the Bronco Wellness Center who focuses on nutrition, the effect of the pandemic on nutrition was not limited to was those with eating disorders. She remarked on how students struggled to maintain their dietary needs when the pandemic began.

Farias said that students have relied more on fast food or takeout out of fears of going into crowded spaces such as grocery stores. These changes were also apparent for students who lost their jobs or who had to move homes as result of the pandemic.

“Those that moved back with family, it was hard for them to have control over what their meals were,” she said. “Either the food was prepared for them or they didn’t really have a say in the groceries that were brought home.”

Farias’s biggest hope was that more people realize that eating disorders, like other nutritional issues, can affect anyone and that the solution is to show support.

“When somebody shares this with you, you should realize it takes a lot of vulnerability and trust … let them know that you are there to support them in any way that they need,” she said.

The first Body Project session is Wednesday, March 10, at 6:30 p.m. It is open to all Cal Poly Pomona students and more information can be found here.

For more information on eating disorders or to contact the eating disorder helpline, visit https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/ To keep up with wellness workshops at CPP, follow CPP Student Health & Wellness on Instagram as well as CPP Counseling and Psychological Services.

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