Healthy Eating & Living (HEAL) interns will try to help students feel comfortable in their genes today as they spread the word on the 19th Annual National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which runs from Feb. 26 to March 4.
HEAL’s main event of the week features a drawing from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today in the Arbor. Students who sign pledges promoting the theme of this awareness week – “Be Comfortable in Your Genes” – will be eligible to win gift certificates to Blenders in the Grass, Global Feet, Trader Joe’s, Lazy Acres Market and Jamba Juice.
HEAL is a Student Health internship program that focuses on reaching out to students about nutrition, exercise and positive body image.
In addition to the raffle, HEAL interns will pass out free apples with stickers listing healthy-eating facts, said HEAL Internal Coordinator Sally Gogol. The interns will move their tabling to outside the Rec Cen from 4 to 6 p.m.
HEAL External Coordinator Lacey Rohr, a fourth-year sociology major, said one in five UCSB students has an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia.
“Disordered eating is when you don’t eat enough or are overeating,” Rohr said. “It’s eating for reasons other than satisfaction. We’re trying to tell people that a lot of body size is about genetics, and we’re unable to control that.”
In 2002, Gogol said, 19.8 percent of all UCSB students met the criteria for diagnosis of an eating disorder. Gogol, a fourth-year psychology major, said 21.4 percent of women at UCSB had an eating disorder that same year, but since then, the number has gone down by a small amount.
Pressures to have the perfect body come from students’ surroundings and the media, Gogol said.
“In an environment where appearance is so highly looked upon as in Santa Barbara, there’s a lot of pressure,” Gogol said. “And it comes from the media. Cindy Crawford’s thighs are airbrushed. You can’t compare yourself to people on TV because they’re not real.”
Rohr said HEAL encourages those struggling with an eating disorder to go to Student Health. She said students can speak with an eating disorder specialist or a nutritionist confidentially and for free.
To obtain their positions, HEAL interns took the Education 191C Healthy Eating and Living course through Student Health. Students can find out more about the four-unit ED 191C class at Student Health.