Eating disorders often start with the best of intentions — a quest to be fit and healthy— but when health goals morph into obsession, entire lives can spiral out of control. It's one of the messages organizers of the University of Utah's Love Your Body Week, Feb. 23-28, plan to share during five days of on- and off-campus activities.
"We're trying to raise awareness and let people know that eating disorders affect everybody — both males and females. They don't discriminate," said Esther Okang, a graduate student and the director of Students Promoting Eating Disorder Awareness and Knowledge (SPEAK), the group spearheading the campaign along with the Center for Student Wellness and the College of Health.
Justine Reel, Ph.D., director of Graduate Studies, Health Promotion and Education and founder of SPEAK, will deliver a keynote address on Wednesday in the Union Saltair Room at 12 p.m. An "intuitive moving and eating" instruction session is another highlight. Participants will learn to enjoy exercise and movement at this event set for Thursday at 1 p.m. in Union Parlor A, Okang said.
Love Your Body Week coincides with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. This year's theme is "I had no idea" as in "I had no idea that my passion had become a problem" and "I had no idea eating disorders aren't just 'a phase.'"
"It's not just a college thing where everybody who goes to college gets an eating disorder," Okang said. "It's broader. Elementary school kids ages 6-12 are already concerned about losing weight."
Students who worry they may have an eating disorder are encouraged to seek help at the Counseling Center or the Women's Resource Center, Okang said.
Monday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. & 4-6 p.m. Tabling at Student Life Center.
Tuesday, Feb. 24, 6-8 p.m. Film screening: Someday Melissa; St. Mark's Hospital Lamb Auditorium.
Wednesday, Feb. 25, 12 p.m. Keynote address by Justine Reel, Ph.D., University of Utah director of Graduate Studies, Health Promotion and Education; Union Saltair Room, University of Utah. (Refreshments served).
Thursday, Feb. 26, 1-2 p.m. Intuitive Moving & Eating Instruction; Union Parlor A, University of Utah.
Friday, Feb. 27, 7:30-9 p.m. Love Your Body Free Yoga; Centered City Yoga, 926 E. 900 South.
Nick Galli, faculty advisor for SPEAK, is a visiting assistant professor in the U's Department of Health Promotion and Education, and he teaches coursework on body images and eating disorders. His research focuses on body images and eating disorders in men and athletes. He is available to discuss the impact images in the media have on people's personal body image.
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