|Average woman dimensions:
Weight: 145 lbs.
Dress size: 11-14
Waist: 29- 31"
Weight: 101 lbs.
Dress size: 4
Panels take place each day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Wellness Zone:
Today: How to Help a Friend Panel
Tuesday: Nutrition Panel
Wednesday: Exercise Panel
Thursday: "Ask the Doc" Panel
Friday: Mental Health Panel
Megan Matonis knows firsthand how it feels to battle an eating disorder. She battled anorexia nervosa twice before attending college.
"The root of my eating disorder is basically that I have a really hard time with changes and transitions, (such as) growing up," said Matonis, a sophomore natural resource management student. "Problems emerge during transition years."
Five million to 10 million people in America are affected by eating disorders, according to eatingdisorderinfo.org. As Eating Disorders Awareness Month finishes its final week, the University Counseling Center, Hartshorn Health Service and Campus Recreation have made a combined effort to increase awareness on campus.
"(There will be) a different panel of professionals (at the Wellness Zone) every day so that people can drop by and ask questions," said counseling center psychologist Danielle Oakley.
Oakley said the Eating Disorder Panel, which will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Lory Student Center, is one of the most important events of the week. The panel will involve personal stories about people who have coped with eating disorders, such as Matonis.
"In sixth grade I was really scared about growing up," Matonis said. "I still wanted to be a little girl. I was really lonely and didn't know how to deal with the big changes. To cope with that I developed an eating disorder."
Matonis said when she was in sixth grade she heard that women who weighed less than 100 pounds do not get their periods. She thought all she had to do was keep her weight less than 100 pounds to avoid getting her period so she could remain a little girl.
"I had ways of telling my mom that I had been eating," Matonis said. "I wouldn't eat my lunch and give it away to other people. I think I was 5 feet 5 inches (tall) and 78 pounds. I was always looking in the mirror to see how thin I looked."
A family friend who was a doctor confronted Matonis about having an eating disorder. It scared her that someone noticed her weight, but she temporarily dealt with the problem and transitioned well into junior high.
In high school, some of the same problems of coping with change resurfaced, Matonis said.
"(In ninth grade) I was suffering from depression and really bad body image," Matonis said. "It went on for a year where I was being really secretive. I was better about talking to people and I had more friends but I just didn't tell anybody what was really going on with me."
Matonis, a self-described perfectionist and focused individual, said she realized how anorexia was affecting all elements of her life when she got a B in Spanish class. Getting good grades was really important to her, and she found that she could not focus in school.
"I told my mom that I thought I had anorexia, so she got me to a counselor and a nutritionist," Matonis said. "The struggle to overcome my eating disorder was actually harder than being with my eating disorder because (anorexia) was a coping mechanism for me. They were making me address issues about my depression and my low self-worth. I got worse before I started getting better because they were taking my eating disorder away from me."
With the help of supportive friends and family, Matonis started to understand herself and learn how to create healthy relationships with food. She said her friends who supported her did a good job of not focusing on food or talking about their own bodies in front of her.
Counseling center psychologist Susan MacQuiddy agreed that being compassionate toward someone who has an eating disorder is one of the most important things a friend can do.
"Be aware of how you talk about your own body and food consumption," said MacQuiddy. "Negative comments about ourselves or other people fuels feelings of self-consciousness. (This) happens a lot on campus when people are dieting."
In order to confront a friend who might have an eating disorder, MacQuiddy said it is important to get good information about eating disorders, and be compassionate, not judgmental or critical.
"Talk directly with the person about concerns you've observed," MacQuiddy said. "Gather up resources to give to a friend. It's important that people don't expect that the person will readily admit to a problem. That's OK."
Resources are available on campus in both the health center and the counseling center, and not just during Eating Disorders Awareness Month. The battle against eating disorders is continuous, and MacQuiddy said staying supportive and focusing on life in general instead of the eating disorder is particularly helpful, especially on a college campus.
"I feel bad for girls who have eating disorders in college," Matonis said. "(There's) so much focus on not gaining the freshman 15, especially in Colorado because it's a health-conscious state. I'm glad I developed it when I was with my family."