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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
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Group discusses struggles with eating disorders

By Clayton Norlen

Stacy Ju used to know she’d have a good day if she felt skinny while lying in bed in the morning.

When she was in the midst of her eating disorder, Ju, a senior in health promotion and education, said every thought and action revolved around food and weight.

She spoke alongside three other women at a panel discussion about eating disorders in the Union on Monday.

The group stressed that it is possible to recover from an eating disorder as long as those suffering are willing to get help.

“This panel will hopefully provide students with information on the process of recovering from an eating disorder,” said Holly Doetsch, the panel facilitator and a dietician at Primary Children’s Medical Center. “There are very few resources about the recovery process, and that’s what we wanted to share.”

The student group Students Promoting Eating Disorder Awareness and Knowledge hosted the sixth annual panel discussion about the process of recovery from an eating disorder. The panelists offered stories about their personal struggles overcoming an eating disorder, becoming comfortable in their bodies and recognizing triggers that encourage harmful eating habits.

The panelists said there are numerous influences and factors that can lead to an eating disorder. Some members of the panel described their eating disorders as a coping skill they used for dealing with problems and stresses in their day-to-day lives. Others said personality factors such as perfectionism and constantly competing to be the best encouraged their eating disorders.

Gena Fletcher, a panelist and research coordinator for Primary Children’s, said she started losing weight with the help of healthy eating habits and exercise, but after boys started noticing her more, she began striving for unrealistic portrayals of beauty. Fletcher was willing to seek help for her eating habits when she realized they weren’t normal and were harming her health.

“Recovery is possible, but the individual has to be ready for the process of recovery to make it possible,” Fletcher said.

Panelists described the recovery process as a reprogramming of an individual’s thoughts and actions.

“How can you love or share with someone else if you aren’t comfortable with yourself?” said Audrey Lee, a graduate student in nutrition. “Look for your own ideals. Don’t let the media define that for you.”

Lee advised that people struggling with eating disorders should let their expectations of the ideal body go and learn to become comfortable in their own body. Full recovery occurs when a person struggling with eating disorders becomes comfortable with eating and realizes it is a tool for their health.

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