A Premium On Being Thin

By Sam Armstrong 

With warmer weather right around the corner, some students struggle with a dark way of getting thin.

Dr. Ann Jaronski of Youngstown State University Student Counseling Services said that the major eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.

Jaronski said that the physical symptoms can vary on either side of the spectrum. With anorexia, the health concerns a person will experience are weight loss, loss of body mass, hair loss, brittle nails and dry skin.

“With a person who has bulimia or binge eating disorder, you’re not necessarily going to see the weight loss symptoms, you may actually notice a slight weight gain,” says Jaronski. “Often times it starts out as, ‘I’d really like to lose five pounds,’ and then you start liking the feeling and feedback. We put a premium on being thin and that gets reinforced.”

Aside from the physical harm eating disorders can cause, Jaronski says that they are often related to an unconscious lack of control that can stem from a number of mental health issues such as body dysmorphia.

Body dysmorphia is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to have a distorted view of how they look and is often a contributor to eating disorders in certain cases. Although, a person does not necessarily need an active eating disorder to suffer from this construed mindset.

“In layman’s terms, it is the disconnect of what an individual thinks they look like and what they really look like,” Jaronski says.

Jaronski says that the physical and mental aspects of an eating disorder are interwoven and need a team approach in order to treat a patient. An eating disorder treatment team has three key components: a physiological approach, medical specialty and a nutritional advisor.

A team approach is important because once an individual works the mental aspects of the eating disorder out, the physical aspects are left to handle. A full blown eating disorder can cause permanent and dangerous health concerns that a counselor or nutritionist alone may not be able to treat.

YSU dietitian and nutritionist, Chrystyna S. Zellers, defines a healthy diet as a one which include all of the food groups — dairy, meat or meat substitute, fruits, vegetables and grains.

“A healthy body is more about body composition rather than a scale weight.” Zellers said. “A good way to know if your body is healthy is to see your doctor so he can run lab tests to check for aspects such as cholesterol and b-complex levels.”

Zellers clarifies that disordered eating has a large spectrum and a lot of common eating disorders fall under emotional eating.

Nutritional services offers a three appointment assessment for students looking for help with disordered eating, athletes or for students trying to lose or gain weight.

The first appointment will be a review of a typical eating day where the student roughly recalls his or her diet within the last few days. The student will then be given a form that they are to fill out his or her honest diet for the next three typical days.

During the second appointment, the individual brings in the food diary form and Zellers will review it and discuss the details of the diet such as portion size. The next step is the diet analysis program to find out how many calories that person is consuming in a day. The outcome of the diet analysis, such as the recommended calorie intake, is discussed too and a food plan is encouraged.

The third appointment is scheduled for two weeks after the food plan was given in order to monitor progress and adjust if necessary.

Call (330) 941-3599 to contact the nutritionist, Chrystyna S. Zellers, and (330) 941-3056 to contact YSU counseling services to schedule an appointment.