Counseling Center’s hosts workshop on food relationships during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

By Mara Shapiro

College kids love their food, and this University’s students are no different. While many students can try to fit all the food groups into their diets, not everyone knows how to effectively. Luckily, the Counseling Center will be putting on a workshop to get students in the know. 

The workshop, titled “A recipe for a healthier self: developing a healthier relationship with food,” will be held in room 405 of the Illini Union from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The Counseling Center Paraprofessionals team will be hosting the workshop.

According to Wilson Yip, Paraprofessional team member and senior in LAS, the Counseling Center puts on many diverse, psycho-educational workshops. Paraprofessionals decided to host the workshop, which they also held in 2012, because it coincides with National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Students who are a part of the Paraprofessionals organization, a three-semester-long program of psychology classes, came up with the idea to hold the event again.

“The relationship with food is a big issue, not only in college, but for everyone else in the world too,” Yip said.

Michelle Gao, graduate student in the School of Labor and Employment Relations, is the graduate assistant of the Paraprofessionals organization. She said she believes students should attend the workshop because it includes non-biased, scientific education.

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    “This workshop, as all CCP workshops do, will approach this topic from a strength-based, holistic and psycho-educational approach,” Gao wrote in an email. 

    Yip explained that the workshop will have self-assessments on attendees’ relationships with food. There will be a scoring system as well as discussions on internal factors, such as how age and gender affect eating. Emotional statuses will also be a topic, as well as food restrictions. Beyond these issues, social media’s affects on body images and external factors, such as family and culture, will be a focus. Packets of health-related information will be available for students to take home. 

    Yip acknowledged that many factors that can influence how students perceive food.

    “Stress affects how we eat and choose food,” he said. “Emotions also have a great affect.”

    Yip and Rachel Park, fellow Paraprofessionals member and junior in LAS, have been conducting a month and a half’s worth of research on relationships with food.

    Park said she believes that solely dieting does not make a healthy relationship with food. 

    “College students don’t have time to eat or just gobble it all down,” Park said.

    Park and Yip’s research delved into studying different cultures and habits when it comes to food, as well as age, gender, mental health and emotions.

    Yip said culture is a major factor that affects eating style, For example, if a student is used to eating at a certain time while they are at home, it may be hard to adjust to their schedules while in college.

    Park said that there was no “set way to have a healthy relationship with food,” but that she believes the workshop will help students examine their lifestyles more closely.

    Mara can be reached at [email protected].