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C.O.P.E.: Coalition for Overcoming Problem Eating/Exercise
We have assembled a multidisciplinary team of experts to help IU students troubled by problems involving eating and weight preoccupations, unhealthy body image, and excessive exercise.
Research indicates that addressing these problems from several coordinated directions is best. That is why the C.O.P.E. team includes medical personnel, counselors, exercise specialists, and dietitians. They are from IU Health Center’s Counseling and Psychological Services, Health and Wellness, and Medical Staff (Division of Student Affairs), as well as Campus Recreational Sports, Residential Programs and Services, Athletic Operations, and the community.
On this page, you will learn ways to recognize a problem and where to seek assessment and treatment by the C.O.P.E. team.
Fat grams. Time spent in the gym. Diets. Bulking up. Great abs. These are constant topics of campus conversation. How do you determine what is normal, and what is a preoccupation with your body and food? Here are some useful distinctions.
Normal body-image and eating concerns
- Interest in improving physical appearance, health, and overall wellness
- Enthusiasm about a new fitness or healthy eating plan
- Awareness of body image, while maintaining a reasonable level of self-acceptance
- Pursuit of a challenging physical training program that incorporates good nutrition and balance
Problematic body-image and weight concerns
- Singular focus on weight loss or obsession with restrictive (yo-yo) dieting
- Punitive approach to body image which includes self-denigrating comments and/or excessive exercise, binging, or purging after eating
- Working out to lose weight without regard for health or nutritional needs
- Self-worth based primarily on body image
- Compulsive, rigid, or inflexible approach to a diet/exercise routine
Signs and symptoms
You or a friend might have an eating or exercise disorder if you exhibit one or more of the following signs:
- The development of disordered eating habits, such as extreme or yo-yo dieting, binge eating, and/or restricting food intake
- Excessive exercising
- An intense preoccupation with weight and/or body image
- The use of vomiting, fasting, laxatives, diet pills, or diuretics to control weight
- A marked change in weight not related to a medical condition
- Feelings of isolation, irritability, or depressed mood
How to help a friend
- Communicate your concern. You don’t need to convince your friend s/he has an “eating disorder.” Avoid shame and guilt.
- Encourage your friend to seek professional help by scheduling an appointment with a physician, dietitian, or counselor.
- Express your continued support by checking in with your friend about the treatment process. Ask what you can do to help him or her.
- If you are worried about your friend’s health or safety, talk to a trusted adult or professional, and consider contacting C.O.P.E.
Where to go for help
- Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
CAPS offers individual counseling, psychiatric assessment, and treatment. Group counseling is also available, and can be a very helpful part of recovery.
- IU Health Center
Consultation with well trained, caring medical staff is available. Evaluation may include a physical examination, lab work, and a depression screening. Some students feel more comfortable starting the process with a medical checkup. Others prefer to initiate treatment with a counselor or a dietitian. It doesn’t matter—we work together!
- IU Health and Wellness Registered Dietitians
Registered dietitians are available to help develop balanced meal plans. Regular nutrition counseling sessions are available to help students achieve balanced and adequate food intake.
- Campus Recreational Sports
The Fitness/Wellness professional staff offers fitness assessments and regular meetings to monitor progress.
- Athletic Department
Assistance is available for IU varsity student athletes through the Sports Medicine Department. Students have access to a medical evaluation, nutritional consultation, and psychological assessment.
- Residential Programs and Services
A registered dietician is available to provide nutritional counseling and education.
- Jan Taylor-Shultz, L.C.S.W.
Individual and group therapy, and a free support group are available.