Guest speaker to share journey with eating disorder

By Breanna Nichols

One woman has “divorced” her eating disorder and hopes to help others do the same.

National Eating Disorder spokesperson for 2012, Jenni Schaefer will speak about her journey with an eating disorder at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Waco Hall.

Schaefer is an internationally known author and speaker who has written two books about her struggle with bulimia nervosa.

The Baylor Body IQ Advisory Committee is bringing Schaefer to campus to conclude National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which is held the last week of February every year and to begin National Nutrition Month in March.

“Jenni has the ability to bring light to such a serious topic by using humor and songwriting,” Katy Senior Jamie Mortimer, a peer nutrition educator, said.

Schaefer has been featured on shows such as “Dr. Phil” and “Entertainment Tonight” to bring awareness to the topic of eating disorders and to “change people’s outlooks on the topic,” Mortimer said.

In her first book, the best-seller “Life Without Ed: How One Woman Declared Independence from Her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too,” Schaefer takes a close look into her battle with bulimia and her recovery.

“I have never been married, but I am happily divorced,” Schaefer writes in the beginning of the book. “Ed and I lived together for more than twenty years. He was abusive, controlling and never hesitated to tell me what he thought, how I was doing it wrong, and what I should be doing instead.”

“Ed” is Schaefer’s eating disorder.

Her second book is “Goodbye Ed, Hello Me: Recover from Your Eating Disorder and Fall in Love with Life.”

In a biography on Schaefer’s official website, author Rob Simbeck wrote that Schaefer believes she is fully recovered and is “enjoying life she considers a gift to be treasured.”

Dr. Emma Wood, a psychologist in the counseling center at Baylor and a member of the Baylor Body IQ Advisory Committee, said she hopes Schaefer will be able to bring awareness to students because this is a topic that is “interesting and important and needs to be addressed at Baylor.”

“This definitely won’t be a dry talk,” Wood said. “She is really engaging and it should be a really personal presentation.”

Wood said the topic of eating disorders is prevalent with college women.

“There are up to 40 percent of college females with bulimic behaviors that may not meet full clinical criteria,” Wood said.

Wood said she believes college is the “perfect storm for developing an eating disorder.”

“The problem is that diets and restricting calories is so culturally acceptable that it becomes a normal thing to have an unhealthy relationship with food, and especially at Baylor where there is a naturally competitive environment with academics and appearances and image,” Wood said.

Eating disorders can start with behaviors such as dieting and become addictive, Wood said.

“The number of people with disordered eating is so high that 91 percent of people have experienced dieting and of that, almost 50 percent of the dieting being done is unhealthy,” Wood said.

Wood and Mortimer said they believe Schaefer’s presentation will be a beneficial way for anyone, but especially college women, to gain awareness and preventative information to stop a possible problem before it can progress.

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