Pinning down America’s obsession with thinning

The idea that one needs to be perfect in order to be valuable is distorted thinking that can lead to an eating disorder, said Jennifer Toleman, a psychologist from the Avalon Hills Residential Eating Disorders Program in Petersboro, Utah.

Toleman spoke at the “Walking the Line of Eating Disorders” seminar on Jan. 18 at the Women’s Resource Center, which looked at the signs and symptoms of eating disorders.

The idealization of being thin and the idea that one must be thin to succeed are “socio-environmental factors that contribute to bulimia and anorexia,” Toleman said.

One sign is the hoarding of food, Toleman said. Studies done as early as the 1950s indicate that people hoard food and other items when suffering from low calorie intake.

Toleman said that binge eating disorders are on the rise. The causes of binge eating are usually the result of dealing with depression and other negative feelings.

Amelia McBride, graduate student in nutrition and member of Students Promoting Eating disorder Awareness and Knowledge (SPEAK)-the group that sponsored the event-said she has found that eating disorders are often misunderstood.

“It’s not all about food, weight and appearance, but those behaviors are how the underlying issues are played out or dealt with,” McBride said.

Education is key; anyone with a friend or family member struggling with an eating disorder should attend some kind of education session to get some insight on what is really going on, she said.

“If the behaviors are addressed and identified early enough, it may prevent someone from being out of control and engulfed by the eating disorder,” McBride said.

The next Eating Disorder lecture will be held at the Women’s Resource Center in the Union on March 1 and will feature a recovery panel.

-H. Rachelle Graham