Virtual webinar discusses eating disorders and behaviors

By Danielle Tyson

Kimberly Hoff, a clinical mental health graduate student at Rider, recognized the lack of awareness on Rider’s campus surrounding eating disorders and in effort to break the stigma she hosted a webinar titled Understanding Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating Behaviors on Nov. 17. 

This event, hosted through Zoom, kept the attendees anonymous to create a safe and comfortable environment. Despite the confidentiality, the audience members were not hesitant to participate in the critical conversations being held. 

Jamie Lewkowitz, a graduate assistant for student accessibility and support, said, “It was a great presentation and very informative, and it would definitely be beneficial for more people to hear about. I think a lot of people just don’t understand why eating disorders develop; they see it as something someone chooses to have because of social media and society in America valuing thinness.” 

As demonstrated during the event, eating disorders have a lot to do with trauma and underlying mental health issues. A lot of times these things are closely associated, and it leads to the development of an eating disorder.  

Hoff explained that “eating disorders are brain-based, meaning that when an individual has an eating disorder, they have a subjective perception of internal body sensations such as lack of hunger cues and lack of emotion regulation.”

Oftentimes it is hard to recognize and approach eating disorders, as well as disordered eating behaviors within others and even within yourself because dieting and fasting are so normalized.

Mikayla McLaughlin, a graduate student in education, leadership and counseling, asked many questions and continuously participated in Hoff’s Zoom event. 

“The goal is typically almost always to lose weight,” said Mclaughlin. “Even if it might be in an unhealthy way.”

During the event, Hoff addressed her passion for spreading awareness about eating disorders because she has experienced and recovered from one herself.

 “When I was in recovery from an eating disorder, I received nutrition therapy and worked with an eating disorder therapist,” Hoff said. “We worked through trauma and what the ‘function’ of my eating disorder was.” 

One of the main focuses of the event was to inform everyone that the best way to begin to break the stigma is to talk about it.

Mclaughlin said, “Be vulnerable so that other people can begin to relate, seeking help, and posting the realities on social media rather than being someone who edits and uses filters because that creates such a toxic environment for everyone.”

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