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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Eating Disorder Awareness Week: Q&A with DDS Nutritionist Beth Rosenberger

Rosenberger speaks on eating disorders on college campuses and the development of this year’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week events.

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This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week — an annual campaign aimed at educating people about eating disorders and offering support for those affected by them. Dartmouth Dining registered dietician and nutritionist Beth Rosenberger has worked at Dartmouth for over 25 years and helps students with dietary restrictions or food-related health issues navigate the dining halls. 

Rosenberger helped plan Dartmouth’s programming for Eating Disorder Awareness Week. The first event, which took place on Feb. 26, was a “Debunking the Diet Culture” panel, and throughout the week students are encouraged to write positive notes on the “Wall of Acceptance” in Foco. On March 1, Foco will have a table providing resources for those with eating disorders. The Dartmouth sat down with Rosenberger to discuss her role as a registered dietician and nutritionist, as well as the Eating Disorder Awareness Week programming. 

What does your role at Dartmouth entail? 

BR: My position has really morphed into a whole bunch of different things over the years. I was originally hired as an Operations Manager and I ran the dining halls. But because of the huge increase in food allergies, celiac disease and other health-related issues, my focus now is helping students navigate the dining halls. I make sure they can eat safely and feel good about what they’re eating.

What is the difference between the two different parts of your role, dietician and nutritionist? 

BR: I went to school to be a dietitian. It was a four-year program. And then when I finished school, there were a variety of ways that I could become a registered dietician — do further education or do an internship. I tag on the term “nutritionist” because sometimes people have a negative connotation when they hear “dietitian,” and “nutritionist” has a better connotation. 

Could you speak on the prevalence of eating disorders on college campuses?

BR: I’m not an expert, but I’ve learned a lot over the time that I’ve been here. College is such a hard time. It is so stressful, especially here [at Dartmouth] with your workload, all of your commitments, and all of your activities. Life can seem almost crazy and out of control. Sometimes the only thing that somebody might have control over is what they eat or what they don’t eat or how much they eat. I think a lot of the time, that’s how disordered eating or an eating disorder can start.

What are the goals of the Eating Disorder Awareness Week events? 

BR: We want to raise awareness, because I think some people don’t even really understand what an eating disorder is and how challenging recovery can be. Eating disorders are pretty common on this campus, along with struggles concerning body image and body positivity. So when we talked about doing these events, we wanted to do positive things that make people feel  supported. We’re also going to talk to anybody that wants to talk, answer questions and have some information and resources. We just want to make people feel good.

Does Dartmouth have events for Eating Disorder Awareness Week every year?

BR: We did it pretty consistently before the pandemic. Not every year, but we used to do it. This year, we’re going to kick it back into gear. In previous years, there were a number of student groups and peer advising groups, and I wish we could find more students that are interested in this for both this year and future years. 

Peer-to-peer, how can a friend help someone that may be suffering with an eating disorder? 

BR: If nothing else, they can listen. And then maybe say, ‘Hey, I think you might need some help, or maybe there's other people to talk to.’ That's part of why we’re doing this resource table and having lots of resources — because people often don’t feel comfortable reaching out to the team here on campus or even people local in this area. There’s also national websites, hotlines and all kinds of places just to call in or meet with somebody and talk to them to get some information. Because it really is serious. I mean, it can be a matter of life and death. 

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

If you or someone you know is concerned about having an eating disorder, please contact the Dartmouth College Health Service. To schedule an appointment with the dietician or a medical provider in the Primary Care Department, call 603-646-9401. To schedule a counseling appointment, please call 603-646-9442.