Whether it’s a friend, someone from class, or you, it is almost certain that you know someone with an eating disorder. In the 2018 Dartmouth Health Survey, the last before the pandemic, 30% of respondents indicated that they “worry they have lost control over how much they eat.”
At Dartmouth, three simple changes can significantly improve the experience of students with eating disorders:
- Update signage in dining locations: Current resources recommend that students limit the quantity of food they eat. Changing signs to reflect more balanced eating advice would make dining more inclusive. Signs are updated regularly, making this change simple and inexpensive.
- Increase the presence and accessibility of eating disorder professionals: The Nutritional Wellness Team at Dick’s House only includes one health service dietitian. Students would benefit from more staff and a clearer path for seeking help.
- Allow students to opt-out of on-campus meal plans more easily: Foco’s all-you-can-eat set-up is stressful for students with eating disorders; however, the off-campus apartment meal plan provides students with the flexibility to eat where and when they feel comfortable, and have control over dining spending.
These adjustments would allow students to more effectively manage their eating, avoid unnecessary stress and access the specialized support they need.
While picking where, when and what to eat might seem simple, many students with disordered eating agonize over these decisions in silence every day. Everyone deserves a high-quality dining experience, and the proposed changes will begin moving Dartmouth in the right direction.
Ryan Carroll is a member of the Class of 2022.