Let’s Get Real About How To Get Help For Your Eating Concerns

As part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW), we’re blogging to increase awareness about eating disorders. Let’s Get Real!

If you’ve been reading through our posts this week on warning signs and symptoms, common eating disorder myths and how to help a friend, you may be starting to examine your own eating behaviors and body image.

Consider taking the free, anonymous and confidential Eating Attitudes Test. This is a widely cited, standardized self-report screening that can help you determine if you have an eating issue that needs professional attention. It does not diagnose an eating disorder, nor should it take the place of a professional consultation.

If you suspect you have an eating disorder, admitting this to yourself can be challenging but necessary for long-term recovery. It shows strength and bravery, so congratulations on stepping up!

The next step is to reach out for professional help. Eating disorders are treatable, and recovery is possible. Consultations for eating or body image concerns are available to Huskers on campus at Nebraska Medicine – University Health Center. Call 402.472.5000 to schedule. To learn more about our services, visit our website.

If you aren’t ready to seek professional help, tell someone you trust about your concerns. While it may be intimidating to be open with your loved ones, starting an honest dialogue will be beneficial to all involved and help you feel less alone. Check out this article for tips on how to have this conversation.

We end our EDAW blog series on this note: The feelings of hopelessness or depression you may be experiencing right now because of your concerns will not last forever. You are not alone. We are only a phone call away. To speak with a professional, call 402.472.5000. Help is available 24/7.

 

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Let’s Get Real About How to Help a Loved One With Their Eating Concern

As part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW), we’re blogging to increase awareness about eating disorders. Let’s Get Real!

Just because you may not struggle with an eating disorder does not mean you don’t know someone who does. It can be difficult to watch someone struggle with an eating or body image concern. Although you can’t force the person to change, you can be there to offer your support and encourage your loved one to seek treatment.

The first step to offering support is recognizing the warning signs and symptoms of an eating disorder. The second is to understand the myths versus facts about eating disorders. We’ve discussed these topics earlier this week on our blog. You can read these posts by returning to our blog’s homepage here.

So, you’ve noticed the warning signs and you understand more about the realities of eating disorders. What do you do next?

Speak up!

Don’t let your fear of being mistaken or saying the wrong thing keep you from voicing your concern. People who struggle with eating disorders can be afraid to ask for help or feel they don’t deserve it. By speaking up, you can start the conversation that may lead to their treatment.

Here are a five tips for how to intervene:

Consider your approach. Pick a time and place to chat with the person that is free from distractions so that you both can speak freely and openly. It’s important to remain calm during the discussion, so gauge your emotions before you broach the subject.

Explain your concerns. Be specific. Explain the situations and behaviors you’ve noticed that worry you. Emphasize that you care and want to help. Don’t criticize or pretend you have all the answers. Avoid “you” statements such as “you shouldn’t be doing this to yourself” or “you need to give these excessive diets a rest.” Focus on how their behaviors make you feel using “I” statements such as “I’m worried to see your body change like this” or “It scares me when I hear you talk about how horrible you think you look.”

Don’t give ultimatums or simple solutions. You can’t force the person to get treatment. Giving ultimatums will only add pressure and increase the chances your loved one will continue to isolate. Likewise, avoid oversimplifying next steps like saying “you just need to recognize your beautiful the way you are.” Eating disorders are not a choice, so the solutions are never simple.

Be prepared for your loved one’s response. Even if you take a respectful, calm approach, the conversation may feel threatening to your loved one. If this happens, try not to take it personally. If your concerns are rejected, don’t give up, but rather remain lovingly persistent and patient. It may take time for your loved one to open up to you. Reiterate that you’re there for whatever is needed.

Encourage professional help. Beyond offering support, the most important thing you can do is encourage your loved one to seek treatment. Eating disorders are hard on the person’s body, mind and spirit; the longer the concern is left untreated and undiagnosed, the harder it will be to overcome, so encourage seeking help as soon as possible. To learn more about the treatment services provided at Nebraska Medicine – University Health center, visit our website.

Don’t go it alone. If you need a consultation with a professional before starting this conversation, call us at 402.472.5000.

To explore educational videos, articles and resources for body image concerns, visit https://health.unl.edu/caps/bodyimage.

 

 

Let’s Get Real About Eating Disorder Myths

As part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW), we’re blogging about various topics to increase awareness about eating disorders. Let’s Get Real!

One way you can help influence the national conversation is by busting common myths about eating disorders.

Here are a few important myths to note:

MYTH: Only thin, white women struggle with eating disorders.

TRUTH: Eating disorders are non-discriminatory. People of all body shapes, races and genders can experience them.

MYTH: People with eating disorders are choosing their behavior in an effort to be noticed.

TRUTH: Eating disorders are not “chosen” behaviors. They’re mental illnesses that often stem from various intersecting sources such as genetics, trauma, abuse and personality characteristics. They’re also learned behaviors that, over time, have taken hold of life as a way to numb emotions or create a sense of control.

MYTH: Eating disorders are just a phase some people go through.

TRUTH: They are not a phase, but a disorder that can have serious physical, emotional and mental consequences if not treated. In some cases, eating disorders can lead to death.

MYTH: It’s simple to end an eating disorder. Just stop the self-harm behavior.

TRUTH: There is no easy fix. Recovery takes time, support from a team of professionals and an extensive amount of perseverance.

If you struggle with eating or body image concerns, help is available and recovery is possible. Nebraska Medicine – University Health Center offers many treatment services for eating disorders. To learn more, visit https://health.unl.edu/caps/eatingdisorders. To explore educational videos, articles and resources for body image concerns, visit https://health.unl.edu/caps/bodyimage.

Let’s Get Real About Eating Disorder Warning Signs and Symptoms

As part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW), we’re blogging to increase awareness about eating disorders. Let’s Get Real!

Knowing the warning signs and symptoms of an eating disorder is the first step to getting help, whether that help is for yourself, a friend or a loved one. We’ve compiled a few of the common red flags you should be looking for.

Before we dive in, it’s important to note that this is not a checklist. Rarely will someone show all these signs and symptoms at one time. Signs and symptoms don’t always fit into categorical boxes either. This is merely a general list that could indicate a problem.

Emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms

  • Frequent dieting
  • Preoccupation with calories, fat grams, carbohydrates, etc.
  • Obsession with body size/shape
  • Excessively observing oneself in the mirror to find perceived flaws
  • Avoiding meals or eating small portions
  • Withdrawing from family, friends and usual activities
  • Excessively chewing food
  • Discomfort eating in public
  • Refusing to eat certain foods or categories of foods
  • Mood swings

Physical signs and symptoms

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dizziness and/or fainting
  • Feeling cold constantly
  • Sleep problems
  • Stomach cramps or other gastrointestinal issues
  • Fluctuations in weight, both up and down
  • Yellow skin
  • Muscle weakness
  • Impaired immune system
  • Dry skin and hair and brittle nails
  • Cuts and calluses across the top of finger joints as a result of induced vomiting
  • Enamel erosion, cavities, tooth sensitivity and other dental problems
  • Fine body hair
  • Poor wound healing

There are certain signs and symptoms that are specific to different types of eating disorders. To learn more, visit the National Eating Disorders Association website.

If you notice these warning signs in yourself or loved one, call Nebraska Medicine – University Health Center at 402.472.5000. We offer many treatment services for eating disorders and can provide counsel if you’re calling to help a loved one. Visit https://health.unl.edu/caps/eatingdisorders to learn more.

To explore educational videos, articles and resources for body image concerns, visit https://health.unl.edu/caps/bodyimage.

Let’s Get Real About Eating Disorders

Thirty million Americans will struggle with a full-blown eating disorder and millions more will battle food and body image issues that have untold negative impacts on their lives, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.

This is why we come together every year during the last week of February for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW). This annual event, which began Feb. 26, exists to reduce the stigma around eating disorders and help people get the support they need to recover.

In honor of this year’s theme “Let’s Get Real,” we’ll be blogging throughout EDAW week on various topics to expose the truth about eating disorders:

  • Wednesday, Feb. 28: Warning signs and symptoms of eating disorders
  • Thursday, March 1: Eating disorders myth-busters
  • Friday, March 2: What to do if you think you have a problem with eating
  • Saturday, March 3: How to help someone you suspect may have an eating disorder

Join the conversation by attending our EDAW events this week:

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For more information about eating disorder treatment services available at Nebraska Medicine – University Health Center, visit http://health.unl.edu/caps/eatingdisorders.

 

 

How to Navigate Peer Pressure

It’s normal to want to fit in, be accepted and feel a part of the group. So when you stumble into a situation where there’s peer pressure, it can be difficult to navigate, especially when the pressure is indirect (e.g. You saw a friend try a drug and you feel curious about it or you’re at a party where everyone is drinking and you have FOMO).

When you are with people who share the same values, beliefs and preferences as you, peer pressure isn’t often an issue. But in college, you’re surrounded by people who are different from you, so it’s likely that peer pressure will creep up at least once during your academic career. In some instances, you’ll know exactly how to respond. In others, you might feel confused or unsure. When this happens, reflect on what is important to you: your values and who you want to be.

Here are our tips for responding to peer pressure:

  1. Know the norms. When it comes to pressure around alcohol or drug use, know that most students overestimate the number of people who drink or use. For example, in 2016, University of Nebraska-Lincoln students surveyed by the American College Health Association perceived about 93 percent of students had a drink within the last 30 days when, in reality, only 60 percent drank. Knowing that alcohol, drug use and “hooking up” isn’t as common as people perceive can help you better resist the pressure that “everyone is doing it.”
  2. Consider the pros and cons. You’re finally away from home and family and have the freedom to make your own decisions. Before you start to establish your own identity, consider what will happen based on how you act. Are there potential consequences and how could those affect your goals?
  3. Be selective with whom you spend your time. Give yourself permission to avoid people and situations that make you uncomfortable. Don’t waste your time with people who won’t respect your decisions or pressure you to do something you don’t want to do. As difficult as it may be, remember that you can’t please or be liked by everyone, and that is OK!
  4. Plan a response. Practice saying “No thanks” or simply “No.” If that response makes you uncomfortable, try “Thanks, but I can’t” or “Not today.” If you aren’t sure how to respond, delay your answer with “Let me think about it” or “Check back with me later” until you have time to make a thoughtful decision. If the truth is too challenging to say, it’s OK to make up an excuse. For example, when you don’t want a drink someone has offered you and you don’t want to say “No,” try “I have to work early tomorrow” or “I’m on medication, so I can’t.”
  5. Remove yourself from the situation. If you are feeling uncomfortable or unsafe, don’t be afraid to leave the conversation, the friend, the party, etc.
  6. Speak up. If you notice another person being peer pressured, stepping in to help can show your support and send a message that peer pressure is not OK. If you can’t directly confront them, invite the person being pressured to get away from the situation (e.g., “Let’s go get some water” or “Let’s go outside and take a selfie”).

Nebraska Medicine – University Health Center is here for you, whether it’s helping you navigate peer pressure, address your alcohol and other drug use and more. Visit our website for additional information or call 402.472.5000 to make an appointment.

CAPS Staff: Suicide Is Preventable

By Will Wysocki, PsyD and CAPS staff psychologist 

Did you know there are over 1,000 suicides on college campuses each year?

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. In effort to increase awareness, decrease stigma and reduce shame, Counseling and Psychological Services would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the fact that suicide is preventable.

The first step in prevention concerns acknowledging the risk factors for suicide. Here’s what to look for:

  • Statements about suicide ranging from passive (i.e., “I wish I didn’t exist.”) to active expressions of wanting to end one’s life
  • Increased substance use in the form of alcohol or other drug use
  • Drastic changes in mood
  • Withdrawal from friends and peers
  • Increase in impulsive behaviors
  • Aggressive behaviors (emotionally, physically or otherwise)
  • Preoccupation with death or dying in the form of writing or any other form of self-expression
  • Students who start ignoring coursework, missing class, and appear depressed
  • Intimate partner violence or violence from another loved one
  • Changes in a student’s eating behaviors and/or weight, sleeping patterns, and interpersonal interactions
  • Difficulty with adjusting to sexual orientation and/or gender identity

If you become aware of any of these risks and warning signs, do not hesitate to call CAPS at 402.472.5000. Students can call 24 hours/seven days a week to speak with a counselor. If a student calls after hours, follow the prompts to be connected to an on-call counselor.

Students can also utilize other resources such as UNL Campus Police, reachable from a campus phone at 2-2222 and an off-campus phone or cellphone at 402.472.2222. Another resource is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (8255).

Know the risks and take action. Remember, suicide is preventable.