Feb 212005
Authors: Jennifer Johnson

Recreation Center Info. : 491-3319

$12 for an hour consultation with a personal trainer

$15 per session with personal trainer

University Counseling Center Info. : 491-6053

Located in the basement of Clark-C Bldg. Eating Disorders Awareness calendar attached to photo request

Some students turn to unhealthy dieting as an easy solution to weight loss.

"Students are always looking for the quick fix to lose weight," said Dawn Clifford of Nutrition Services in Hartshorn Health Services. "This usually means going on fad diets or using over-the-counter weight loss pills."

Clifford said college students are most susceptible to these types of dieting behaviors because they are concerned about their physical appearance and are often motivated by trying to get "the Spring Break body" instead of aiming to be healthier.

"The media is powerful when it comes to sending messages about food and the body," Clifford said. "The media is saturated with individuals with a certain body type, so we start thinking that the thin, tall body type is the only acceptable shape."

Clifford thinks students may feel they will be more accepted by their peers if they maintain this "ideal image" portrayed by the media, leading them to diet in negative ways.

"The biggest mistake students make when dieting, is ignoring the signals that their body sends them," she said. "Dieters often think in what we call 'black and white thinking,' in which they list food as either 'good' or 'bad.'"

The goal of a diet, Clifford said, should be to find an eating plan that allows for higher calorie foods once in awhile, instead of always keeping track of what you are eating.

"Chronic dieting can really mess with a person's metabolism," she said. "The body attempts to adapt to restrictive eating behaviors by lowering the metabolic rate."

The number one health problem associated with dieting is the development of clinical eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia nervosa or binge-eating disorders.

Clifford feels we need to educate students about the risks of fad diets and weight-loss pills and encourage size acceptance.

"We need to realize that we all have a different genetic make-up and be proud that we are different," she said. "We need to encourage students to eat healthy and exercise because they want to be healthy and feel great."

The healthiest plan according to Clifford is to not diet at all, but instead learn how to eat healthier and include physical activities into everyday lives.

"The most harmful part about dieting is what it does to our self-esteem," she said. "Often, a day is ruined by what the scales say. An obsession with food and body is not an enjoyable way to live."

The Campus Recreation Center provides a way for students to incorporate physical activity into their daily schedule, however some may take daily exercise to an unhealthy extreme.

"In the recreation center, we have seen a dramatic increase of students fainting, due to under-eating," said Tamar Cline, strength and fitness assistant director at the Campus Recreation Center. "Many times a student will attempt to workout in the evening without having eaten the entire day."

Cline said individuals might feel that dieting is the only way to lose weight more effectively. However, excessive dieting puts individuals' bodies at risk and may also have long-term effects on their lives longevity.

"Although our weight signifies our health status, many times people misinterpret the appropriate body weight and develop a distorted body image," she said. "Many students are concerned with their weight and feel that they should lose it. However, certain approaches to losing weight can be detrimental to long-term health."

Cline believes the best way to make one's exercise and health routine most efficient is by meeting with an exercise professional at the recreation center.

"Fitness consultations offer an hour with a personal trainer to receive guidance on how to improve, or create an efficient workout to meet one's goal," she said.

If anything, people need to be more careful in the early years of life to ensure happy and healthy years down the road, Cline said.

"What we do today, our bodies will show tomorrow," she said.

Danielle Oakley, a psychologist at the University Counseling Center, works with students who suffer with both eating disorders and "disordered eating."

According to Oakley, disordered eating is when we do not stay on a consistent eating schedule, or when we tend to do things such as working out for the wrong reasons.

"I think that the world in general has issues with dieting," she said. "Fad diets promote the idea of "good and bad" foods, but all food is actually good, as long as we eat and exercise in moderation."

Individuals who are trying to lose weight turn to pathological dieting 35 percent of the time creating eating disorders, Oakley said.

The University Counseling Center is currently promoting Eating Disorders Awareness month in which students can attend a number of events dealing with issues regarding eating disorders, dieting and body images.

"I think it is important for students to keep motivated and exercise for the right reasons," Oakley said.

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