Event sheds light on Binge Eating Disorder


By The Daily Illini Staff Report

Kara Whitley, author, speaker and blogger for the National Eating Disorders Association, will be speaking at a Binge Eating Disorder, BED, awareness event tonight at the Activities and Recreation Center, at 6:30 p.m.

Whitley will be speaking about food addiction, generosity, recovery from binge eating disorder and body positivity.

Whitley has published a book about her experience hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro three times while weighing three hundred pounds. Her main ideas are about the importance of spending time in nature and loving oneself.

The purpose of the event is to help make students more aware of Binge Eating Disorder and how to support people who struggle with body image and other eating disorders.

Carina Bauer, co-chair of the Counseling Center’s Eating Disorders Outreach Team, said she is excited to have Whitley speak about her experiences.

“BED is a real disorder and people suffer,” Bauer said.  

Twenty percent of college students said they have or previously had had an eating disorder, and an estimated 2.8 million people are affected by Binge Eating Disorder.

According to Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association, some university students feel too little has been done to address issues regarding body image.

“The University has not put in enough effort to raise awareness about body positivity around campus and could be doing more,” said Narciso Perez, junior in LAS.

Fifteen percent of women from the ages 17 to 24 have a eating disorder.

“The co-ed Latino fraternity Alpha Psi Lambda has worked to promote body positivity through their workshops and programs,” said Gabriel Perez, junior in LAS. “It is important to promote body positivity among males and females because, especially in Latino culture, males are not as vocal about feeling body shamed. Promoting body positivity should be as mainstream as programs such as FYCARE and ACE IT.”

Ninety-one percent of female college students have attempted to control their weight through dieting.

“It is important to surround yourself with people that support you, because a lot of girls have issues with their body image,” said Kelly McDonald, sophomore in Media.

This year, a new therapy group was established at the Counseling Center for those struggling with BED.

“You’re always nervous when you’re starting a new group,” Bauer said. “(We were) really pleasantly surprised to fill the group so early in the semester.

This group allows people to have a safe space to share their experiences with each other. The Counseling Center has a team dedicated to working with those suffering with eating disorders and body image. Individual therapy and group therapy are also offered, and there is partnership with McKinley Health Center to see a dietician.

If a student notices a friend or roommate possibly suffering with BED, Bauer suggested referring them to the Counseling Center or Mckinley Health Center.

“(Students suffering with BED) get connected to all of us at some point,” Bauer said.

Showing care and concern for those possibly struggling with body image and BED is an important step to healing.

“Help is out there if students are open to it,” Bauer said. “(Some people say) ‘I just need to find the right diet or have willpower,’ but it’s more than that.”

Tonight’s event is expected to feature a Q&A session as well as a book signing by Whitley after her speech.

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