Energy Drinks—Endurance Enhancer or Workout Wrecker?

My very first Healthy Heels blog post talked about coffee. Coffee had a bad rap as the cause of high blood pressure, anxiety, and insomnia, all of which is still true. However, new research has pointed to the health benefits of coffee consumption, like lower risk of type 2 diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and liver cancer. Thanks to a combination of antioxidants and caffeine, drinking coffee is also linked to improved concentration, memory, and athletic endurance.

But, can the same be said for Energy Drinks?

energy-drinksEnergy drinks, like Monster or Red Bull, and energy shots, like 5-hour energy, can contain 200 to 400 milligrams (and sometimes more) of caffeine. These products are sold as nutritional supplements and therefore not regulated by the FDA, so there is no limit to the caffeine they can contain. College students may be the fastest growing market for energy drinks, with 39% of students consuming at least 1 in the past month. Consumption is higher among males, white students, and athletes.

The American College of Sports Medicine has found that moderate caffeine consumption can boost performance during short-term bull_power_smallerendurance exercise lasting about 5 minutes. Caffeine had no effect on sprint performance (less than 90 seconds of intense exercise). Although a diuretic, caffeine does not lead to dehydration in moderate amounts nor does it cause calcium loss, as previously thought.

But evidence suggests that energy drinks and their high caffeine content may not be the best choice for college students….

  • A new study in Switzerland, suggests that caffeine consumption among teenagers may slow brain development by impairing deep sleep cycles. Our brains do not reach full maturity until our mid-20s, with the fastest growth occurring during puberty, and caffeine consumption can impair brain development and influence behavior.
  • 500-600 mg of caffeine can cause “intoxication” which can lead to insomnia, muscle tremors, gastrointestinal problems, and increased heart rate. Over-consumption can produce classic symptoms of anxiety disorder like jitteriness and racing heart, followed by withdrawal symptoms like headache and fatigue, all of which can negatively impact a person’s ability to function.
  • Drinkers who mix alcohol and energy drinks are 3 times more likely to binge drink and twice as likely to experience negative consequences while drinking, such as sexual assault and riding with an intoxicated driver. Caffeine masks the depressant effects of alcohol, allowing drinkers to continue drinking and engaging in activities, like sex and driving, but it does not affect the metabolism of alcohol or level of cognitive impairment. The result is a dangerous combination: a person who is very drunk and very awake.

Personal BestSo, drinking your favorite energy drink may give you a boost in your workout. But are the gains worth the risk of slowing your brain development and causing anxiety?

In the end, it’s up to you.

Why Dieting Makes You Dumber

From Justin Gabbard/The New York Times
From Justin Gabbard/The New York Times

Some of you may have seen this article in yesterday’s New York Times business section about dieting and the mental strain it causes. I read the first paragraph,

”Diets don’t just reduce weight, they can reduce mental capacity. In other words, dieting can make you dumber,”

and I thought, Yes! Another anti-dieting tool for my toolbox that I’ll use to convince my patients that diets don’t work and balance is best!

I was nodding my head, Yes, through the author’s descriptions of various studies showing again and again how dieting lowers IQ. It looks like dieting makes us dumber because the constant thoughts of “Should I or shouldn’t I have that cookie?” take up precious bandwidth, or mental capacity, and make us less able to focus on other, likely more important, stuff. Like studying for that chemistry exam or being a patient friend or partner.

Another point that I found interesting and that I preach in my office on the daily, is the idea that “dieters have spontaneous self-generated cravings at a much higher rate than nondieters.” That is, even when there aren’t cookies around to drool over, dieters tend to fixate on foods that they’ve placed on their “bad” or “do not eat” or “no-no” list.

Just try not to think about this guy.

I often refer to this as the pink elephant effect. If I tell you, whatever you do, do NOT think about a pink elephant…well, chances are you just thought about a pink elephant. Best to be open to all foods and fit them into your meals and snacks in balanced ways. More on that later.

The author goes on to talk about how other types of scarcity, like poverty, similarly reduce bandwidth and negatively effect decision making. The main idea: the more stressors we pile on, the harder it is to make good, balanced decisions. As the article states, “diets create mental conditions that make it hard to diet.”

So, there I was, nodding my way through the article and then BAM! My bubble was burst when I got to the prescriptive portion. The author’s recommendation for managing scarcity: try the Atkins diet because it requires less thinking. No no no.

I am not trying to diss the mega-industry that is Atkins, but in an article that clearly shows that banning foods causes “spontaneous self-generated cravings” that can be derailing both for someone’s physical and psychological health, how in the world does it make sense to recommend banning all carbohydrates? An entire food group! No no no no.

Yes, “Atkins requires less thinking,” but is the goal really to do less thinking about our foods and tune out what our bodies are telling us? Shouldn’t the goal be to tune in?

large_myplate-flat-plateThere is no one prescription for healthy eating. I teach most of my patients the plate method and I truly think all foods can fit in a balanced diet. But I say we also need to focus our energies on alleviating scarcity and managing stress, and that’s why I often refer my patients to counseling. Getting rid of diet rules and building positive self-esteem is often the first step to wellness.

My recommendation: stop demonizing the cookies. Love your body. Go see a registered dietitian. Or a therapist. Free up some bandwidth.

Diet or Regular? The Surprising Science and Psychology of Diet Soda Part II

Part II: Psychology

Last week, I explored the science of diet soda’s effect on physical health in order to answer the question…

Is diet soda really healthier than regular?

Before I explore the psychology of this question, I want to address one more physical impact that I left out: your teeth. The journal of General Dentistry published a study equating diet soda’s effect on tooth erosion to meth and crack, igniting a firestorm of articles. But before you scrutinize your smile for signs of meth mouth, keep in mind that this study only compared three case studies (one meth user, one crack user, and one diet soda drinker), and the diet soda drinker was a woman who drank four liters of diet soda daily for five years. Other research shows that diet soda parallels beverages with similar acidity levels, namely juice, regular soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks, when it comes to tooth erosion. So, you probably won’t rot out your mouth with moderate diet soda consumption, but reducing intake will leave you with pearlier whites and lower dental bills.

Now, let’s move beyond the physical domain….

Diet soda and a culture of calorie-counting

In a culture that fears fat more than death, diet soda captivates us with its promise of zero-calorie sweetness. You only need to see one diet soda ad to realize that marketers are capitalizing on a culture of calorie counters and fat phobias, and oftentimes, that culture is directed towards women…



If you read Part I of this series, you know that drinking diet soda may not make you skinny (it may do the opposite!), and yet the passionate pursuit of skinny fuels the diet soda market. Because women want to be skinny. And if drinking diet will get us there, then we’re all in! So we get ads of slim, scantily-clad, faceless women whose bodies are the product of drinking diet. But what does this say about our culture? About how we view women and their bodies? In my research for this blog, I noticed that men receive similar messaging around diet soda and achieving an “ideal body.” Check out this classic Diet Coke ad from the early 90’s:

Health limitations (like diabetes or metabolic syndrome) aside, I can’t help but connect a person’s choice to drink diet soda to body image. If the two were not inextricably linked, then why do diet soda ads so clearly connect diet soda and thin, muscled bodies? Why don’t they focus on diabetes risk? The health effects of sugar? Perhaps because, in our culture, our health matters far less than looking thin, toned, and attractive to the opposite sex. Yikes.

Mindfulness: a happy medium?

Diet soda ads may be feeding an unhealthy culture of thinness, but getting skinny isn’t the only reason why people choose diet over regular. Food is a multi-sensory experience. Mindful eating is a recent trend based on an old idea that involves tuning into your body’s cues and cravings, and instead of fighting them, giving your body what it needs and (gasp!) wants. Think about how children eat. They usually know exactly when they are hungry, when they feel full, and what they want without relying on clocks or nutrition labels. This is mindful eating.

So, why am I talking about mindfulness in a diet soda blog?

In college, I had a diet soda addiction. I grew up sneaking sips of my mom’s diet coke, and I only increased my habit as an undergrad. Until a friend said something that changed my perspective: “When you drink diet soda, you promise it sugar and then don’t deliver. You are betraying your body.”

Betraying my body? Whoa. C’mon…just trying to save some calories here!

But the more I thought about what she said, the more it made sense. Why do I reach for diet soda? What is it I really crave/need/want? Answering these questions helped me figure out that my body is probably not needing/wanting/craving an artificially sweetened beverage, so I am giving it diet soda when it really craves something else. It was hard for me to let go of the “guilt-free-calorie-free” mantra and tune into what my body may be craving, but I felt much better once I did. The next time you reach for a diet soda, here are some questions you can ask to tune into what your body may be wanting:

If you want….

  • Something sweet? Try juice, fruit, candy or even a regular soda (moderation is key here)
  • Something fizzy? Try seltzer water or seltzer with juice
  • A calorie-free drink that isn’t water? Iced black or herbal tea
  • Caffeine? Coffee or tea with milk OR iced coffee/tea with milk

Diet or Regular? The Surprising Science & Psychology of Diet Soda

PART I: The Science dietsodas

Linked to obesity, regular sodas have gotten a pretty bad rap causing many to turn to diet soda as the healthier alternative for their sweet, fizzy fix. So…

Is diet soda really healthier than regular?   

In this blog, I will explore the science of diet soda to help answer this question. Let’s start by examining diet soda’s main ingredient: the sometimes-controversial, almost-too-good-to-be-true, calorie-free sweetener…

Are the artificial sweeteners in diet soda safe?

Concerns about the safety of artificial sweeteners have led to decades of public debate. The simple answer is YES; they are safe. The FDA lists all artificial sweeteners commercially used in the U.S. as safe. The artificial sweetener, saccharin, was linked to bladder cancer in labs rats in the 1970’s, prompting a warning label for all saccharin products, but the FDA rescinded the warning in 2000 after epidemiological studies showed no link between saccharin and bladder cancer in humans. Much of the concern about the artificial sweetener-cancer link stems from this early saccharin controversy.

artificial-sweetenersToday, most diet drinks contain either aspartame or Splenda. Aspartame came under fire during the 1990’s with a study suggesting that it may be linked to brain tumors, but this was later disproved. In 2005, a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) study found aspartame to be carcinogenic in rats. Both the FDA and EFSA have since reviewed the study and concluded that there is no evidence to support aspartame as a human carcinogen.

Besides this research, there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence questioning aspartame’s safety. For example, some consumer watchdog groups suggest that formaldehyde, a byproduct of aspartame, creates toxic effects in the body. But many naturally occurring foods, including fruit juice, also produce formaldehyde when broken down in the body as part of the natural digestion process with no adverse effect. Although no studies have measured side effects from aspartame consumption, some cited side effects include digestive problems, headaches, dizziness, and headaches.

What we do know for sure is that aspartame contains phenylalanine. People with the rare genetic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) cannot break down this amino acid and should avoid aspartame.

Splenda, the other common diet soda sweetener, was approved as a general sweetener in 1999 after the FDA reviewed more than 100 studies examining its safety. So, looks like Splenda and aspartame are A-ok when it comes to cancer risk.

Now that cancer risk is off the table (for now, at least), let’s look at whether diet soda fulfills its intended purpose…

Does diet soda help with weight control?

Many soda drinkers choose diet to save calories in order to control their weight. But, recent research suggests that the artificial sweeteners in diet soda may actually lead to weight gain in addition to other metabolic disorders.

Susan Swithers, professor of behavioral neuroscience at Purdue University, just published a review of multiple studies on diet soda, weight, and metabolism. Here’s the gist of her findings:

  • Multiple studies show a correlation between diet soda consumption and weight gain
  • Artificial sweeteners are many times sweeter than sugar and trigger the release of certain hormones to digest sugar
  • When no sugar shows up, the body gets confused and stops releasing as much of these hormones whenever it tastes something sweet, whether sugar or not
  • This hormone disruption may cause increased sweet craving, weight gain, and reduced ability to process real sugar

She reports that these changes occur even in occasional diet soda drinkers (3 sodas a week) and that the metabolic disruption can lead to metabolic syndrome, Type II diabetes, and even heart disease. Wow. Is anyone else flashing to that scene in “Mean Girls” when Regina George finally discovers that her diet bars are actually the cause of her weight gain?

Before you blame diet coke for your Beyonce curves, keep in mind that Swithers’ article iscold-drinks-SIDE based on a review of lots of studies, and it isn’t conclusive. Many of these studies show a correlation between diet soda and these negative health outcomes, but that does not mean that diet soda caused those things (correlation ≠ causation!). At the very least, these findings are food for thought, something to consider when staring down the cold drinks section of Student Stores.

Ok, let’s review….

1. Artificial sweeteners do not cause cancer in humans–YAY! They are safe to consume.

2. Aspartame is dangerous for folks with the genetic disorder PKU.

3. Artificial sweeteners in diet sodas are correlated with weight gain and some metabolic disorders, but we don’t know for sure if drinking diet soda causes them.

Stay tuned for PART II next Tuesday, when I will move beyond the physical realm–since we folks at Student Wellness like to think of health in the holistic sense–and examine the diet soda debate from a psychological perspective.

What You Need to Know About Binge Eating Disorder

The following is a guest post from Dr. Cynthia Bulik, Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders in the Department of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine, Professor of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and director of the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders.

If you don’t get this reference, it means you haven’t seen Dirty Dancing. Go watch it…immediately!

Borrowing from Patrick Swayze, “No one puts Binge Eating Disorder in the corner!”

Despite being the most prevalent eating disorder, binge eating disorder, or BED, has been referred to as the “red headed stepchild” or the “third wheel on the eating disorders wagon.” But this will all change in May 2013 when the American Psychiatric Association (APA) publishes the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual,the DSM-5, the catalog of all psychiatric illnesses. Until this year, BED was included in the wastebasket category “eating disorders not otherwise specified.” It was placed there because the APA believed that further research was warranted before they could deem it a bona fide psychiatric disorder. Well, the research has flourished and BED will now have a home of its own in the DSM-5.

What is BED?

So pretty much everyone knows about anorexia nervosa (low body weight, fear of weight gain) and bulimia nervosa (binge eating and purging behavior), but BED often gets short shrift. The definition of binge eating is eating an unusually large amount of food in a discrete period of time and feeling out of control. It is the critical component of feeling out of control that differentiates a binge from just overeating. Moreover, people with BED feel distressed by their binge eating. Unlike those with bulimia nervosa, they do not engage in regular purging behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, laxative use, fasting or excessive exercise. For some, but not all, this can lead to energy imbalance and metabolic consequences of eating large amounts of typically unhealthy foods. Many people with BED have difficulty stabilizing their weight and are at increased risk for health consequences commonly associated with obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Who gets BED?

BED does not discriminate. The official numbers in the United States suggest that 3.5% of women and 2% of men in the country suffer from BED. BED strikes all socioeconomic classes, races, and ethnicities, and affects people across the lifespan. Increasing reports of “loss of control” eating in children suggest that it may be a precursor to later BED. In the other direction, many adults with BED recall their binge eating starting at a very young age and recount stories about hiding and hoarding food, lying about what they ate, and feeling ashamed or fearful of being caught eating. BED can occur or continue well into middle and late adulthood with many women reporting that perimenopause can be a trigger for BED.

BED on college campuses.

BED tends to be under-recognized on college campuses, in part because anorexia and bulimia nervosa get so much attention. People fail to realize that BED can be just as distressing and damaging to health and wellbeing.  We hope that now, with official recognition in the DSM-5, we will be able to create greater awareness about BED and help people with the disorder get proper care.

Treatment for BED.

The good news is that BED is treatable. At this point in time, the treatment of choice for BED is cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps get a handle on unhealthy thoughts that might perpetuate binge eating. Here’s a classic example: after eating a small amount of a food that someone views as high risk or triggering they say, “Well, I already blew it. I may as well eat the whole package.” Helping people get a handle on these runaway thoughts can empower them to stop the binge in its tracks. Some people also find medication such as antidepressants or anticonvulsants to be of value; however, these medications do not provide long-term tools for managing urges to binge.

For more information on BED and eating disorders in general see Crave: Why You Binge and How to Stop and Midlife Eating Disorders: Your Journey to Recovery at

The Perfect Body—Get it NOW!

perfect body blondeNow you’re expecting me to list all the healthy tips and tricks that will promise a skinnier, firmer, flatter you overnight. Ha! I tricked you. No, I will not be offering any weight loss, fitness, nutrition, or diet advice in this blog. But I hooked you with that title, didn’t I?

The perfect body. I hate that word, perfect. I hate how easily it gets paired with the word body. In our culture, a perfect body is one without flaw. And that typically means airbrushed to death and petite with curves, but only in certain places (tits- and ass-type places).

Striving for our perfect body ideal turns beautiful people into calorie-counting, self-doubting dieters: “Oh, I couldn’t possibly eat that…it’ll go straight to my thighs!”

It drives us to passively insult our bodies by extoling others: “You’re so lucky; I don’t have the figure to pull off that outfit!”

It teaches women (and men[1]) to fear their weight and hide their softer sides and to look in the mirror with disgust and shame. It teaches men that women should be flat-bellied, big-breasted, and hairless below the eyebrows. And it robbed me of all that precious time I wasted in my teens and twenties thinking my thighs were too fat for skinny jeans and my stomach too soft for a bikini.

But our perfect body ideal is not universal. A year ago, I wrote a blog post (So Cosmo Says You’re Fat….) about how women are more than their bodies, even though our media tries to convince us otherwise. I talked about my life in Ghana, West Africa, where women have a totally different take on the perfect body. My co-workers often complimented me with “Have you put on weight? You look so nice and fat today.” And my Ghanaian friend, Freda, expressed envy at my cellulite.

Well, last summer, Freda moved to New Jersey with her husband. She no longer says “nice and fat.” Now she thinks she’s too fat, and we all know that fat = bad. In under a year, Freda traded in the round-hipped, soft-bellied Ghanaian ideal and joined the ranks of self-doubting dieters. But Freda is not alone.

I recently finished Dr. Cynthia Bulik’s (head of UNC’s Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders) book Crave for a class I am taking. The book focuses on binge eating disorder and touches on our society’s destructive impact on body image. Dr. Bulik writes about how women compare themselves to the perfect bodies of models and celebrities, and how striving for the perfect body leads many women to disordered eating and self-loathing. There it is. The Perfect Body. Ugh!

What makes this so-called perfect body perfect? Who decided that perfect equals smooth and skinny? Not my friend, Freda. Not the women in Ghana who call each other “nice and fat.” And definitely not me. I think Dr. Bulik would agree that assigning the word perfect to the superskinny-spray-tanned magazine bodies only reinforces the ridiculous ideal that we fight so hard to change.Those bodies are only perfect because we keep calling them perfect. And that needs to change.

Assuring women that they don’t need to strive for the perfect body is not enough. We have to redefine what perfect means.

So then, what is a perfect body?

I’m gonna whip out my BA in Classics for a minute and lay some etymology on you (ah, Murphy Hall….always in my heart). Perfect comes from the Latin word perficere, meaning “to finish” or “to complete” and perfectus, the past participle of perficere, translates “having been completed.” Therefore, a perfect body would be a “finished” or “completed” body. A completed body.

This reminds me of how new parents welcome their fresh-from-the-womb infants, black baby 2counting fingers and toes, as they take in all the parts of their new baby. Ten fingers, ten toes, two eyes and one nose. In reality, this is not quality control, folks—I don’t know any parents that would hand their baby back if missing a toe or sporting an extra finger. Rather, they are surveying this fully-formed, completed human being that began a mere 9 months ago as an idea, a kiss, a collection of cells. Just taking it all in. This complete little human being.

Can you imagine critiquing a little infant the way many of us pick at our own bodies?

Last year, I wrote about how we are more than our bodies. But, the truth is, our bodies are still a big part of who we are. They are a part of what completes us. And how we feel aboutMassage of foots our bodies, how we treat our bodies, reflects how we feel about ourselves.

So, I guess I didn’t trick you, after all. Since the day I was born, when my parents held me that very first time and explored all my little fingers and toes, my body has been complete. It is already perfect.

And so is yours.


More on Dr. Bulik and the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders here.

Awesome body image resources:

A more clinical perspective:

[1] Men: I cringe every time I hear you talk about your own body shame. I don’t mean to leave you out of this conversation. I have focused on women for this blog, because I am a gal, and I am speaking from my own experience. However, I do understand that the Perfect Body ideal affects ya’ll too, and I welcome your comments!

The Food Police

Every time I order food from a particular take out place, as soon as I hang up the phone I get an incoming call. An automated machine calling on behalf of my bank, reciting “We fear there may be fraudulent charges on your account […] Please contact our identity theft and fraud department immediately at …. “. Sometimes I even get a text with the same information. The most recent time, I received a call, text, and an email which even went so far as to inform me that my account had been put on hold (i.e. my card was useless) until I called them back to go over the most recent charges on my account. Every time this happens I have to call the bank, and listen to a stranger list the most recent purchases on my card- which of course always concludes with a report of the place I ordered food from and the amount charged.
When the very nice stranger on the phone asks me if this is my charge, all I hear them saying is “so- this extremely unhealthy carb full restaurant you ordered from AGAIN…you spent ____….Don’t you live alone? Geez how many people are you planning on feeding?” I feel embarrassed and called out by the universe for my eating choices and frustrated at the fact that I am forced to report them to a stranger. Even so, I have not yet had the guts to tell my bank that they can stop calling every time I order food from this place because yes, it’s always going to be me (I like to eat their food) so while I appreciate your concern and thorough job of protecting my identity, please stop asking me to answer for my food choices.

These interactions with my bank, although unintentionally and indirectly on their part, are a great example of food policing. I’m sure that many folks prone to food policing out there mean the best. Sometimes it’s good to catch ourselves though and ask – what good is food policing really doing?

If you’re concerned about a friend’s health, it will probably be much better received if you express those concerns in the context of health and caring for your friend instead of commenting on if they’re “going to eat all that”, asking them “if they need to eat that” and making comments such as “you sure don’t look like a vegetarian”. Food policing ourselves, i.e. making comments like “oh no, I don’t need anymore, I’m trying to be good” can have a similarly negative effect on those around us. Food policing may sometimes even sound like compliments such as “great job choosing that salad!”.

Unless a friend or partner has come to a plan of healthy eating or exercising on their own or at the suggestion of a doctor and specifically asked for your support, food policing may be more harmful than helpful. Hopefully you’ve been hearing a lot about eating disorders and how they affect college students over the course of this past week. Even if you think information about eating disorders seems a little too extreme to apply to you and your friends, we can all still be mindful of how our own food policing-whether directed at others or at ourselves in the presence of others- is affecting our friends and their body image.

nutrition1If you’re genuinely concerned about a friend’s eating habits, make it a point to talk to them while they’re not in the middle of a meal or about to sit down to start eating. You may consider suggesting they make an appointment at Student Wellness to meet with a Clinical Nutrition Specialist or Nutrition Education Consultant on campus. They’re great folks who can help you, your friend, or a partner go over healthy meal planning and choices for them and their body. If you’d like to host a program on healthy body image or nutrition for your student group or hall, check out the health education and training services available at Student Wellness.

How To: A Guide To Helping a Friend with an Eating Disorder

Since today marks the half-way point of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, we wanted to share some information with you about how to help a friend who’s struggling with disordered eating or how to reach out for help yourself.

So, you’ve noticed that your friend has become overly concerned with what she eats or how much she weighs. Or maybe you have a friend who excuses himself from the table immediately after eating and you’ve heard him throwing up in the bathroom several times.  How do you show your concern and encourage your friend to get help? Here are a few tips.

  • Learn all that you can about eating disorders. Eating disorders are complex problems that require lots of support, care, and professional guidance. Check out and
  • Approach your friend in a caring, nonjudgmental way.  Explain WHY you are concerned and WHAT you have specifically observed.
  • Know that your friend might be in denial or react in anger.  Your friend may insist that everything is fine.  Do not back down, but rather continue to be available for your friend.
  • Continue to encourage your friend to seek treatment, even though he or she tries to convince you that nothing is wrong.  Do not accept or support their unhealthy behaviors.
  • Consider informing the parents or the resident advisor of your concerns.
  • Remain friendly and open to the possibility that your friend may choose to seek help in the future.
  • Remember…if your friend is over 18 years old, she or he is an adult and cannot be made to seek help.

Now that you’ve had the difficult conversation with your friend and he or she wants to reach out for help, what are the next steps? UNC has a variety of great resources to support someone struggling with disordered eating.

Counseling and Psychological Services
Speak with a trained professional to receive a referral for a therapist in the area. Body image groups are also occasionally offered.
Appointment: Walk-in to the 3rd floor of Campus Health

Campus Health Services
Speak with a health provider who specializes in Eating Disorders.
Katie Gaglione, N.P.
Appointment: 919-966 – 2281

Nutrition Counseling from a Registered Dietitian
Antonia Hartley, M.P.H., R.D., L.D.N.
Appointment: 919-966 -2281

Nutrition Counseling from a Sports Dietitian (for athletes)
Mary Ellen Bingham, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D.
Appointment: 919-966 -6548

For a free online eating disorders screening assessment, click here.

And don’t forget to come support the rest of the NEDA Week events going on around campus!

It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week!

In case you haven’t heard, it’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week and there are some awesome events going on to raise awareness here at UNC!

First, a little information on eating disorders from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA): In the United States, approximately 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). Many others struggle with disordered eating behavior/attitudes and body dissatisfaction. The emotional and physical consequences of eating disorders are wide-ranging and can include social isolation, depression, muscle wasting, bone loss, and even cardiac failure and death. In fact, anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, there’s help! For more information about eating disorder signs and symptoms and how to help someone dealing with an eating disorder, visit the NEDA website. If you are struggling with food, exercise, and/or body image issues, please visit UNC’s Counseling and Psychological Services at Campus Health for a walk-in appointment 9-12 and 1-4 Monday through Friday. For general healthy eating questions and advice, you can make an appointment with the Nutrition Education Consultant at Student Wellness at 919-966-3658. For those with medical conditions and/or eating disorders, you can schedule an appointment with a Registered Dietitian at 919-966-2281.

So, what’s happening this week? These fun events will increase your knowledge and awareness of eating disorders, promote a healthy view of food and activity, support positive body image, and raise much-need funds for eating disorders research. Come to any and all events – your name will be entered into a prize raffle for each event you attend. Visit the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders Facebook page for more information on all of these events.


  • Eating Disorders Myth Busters, 11:30am-1pm, Lenoir
  • Eating for Exercise, 5:30-7pm, SRC
  • Benefits for Eating Disorders Research, Sweet Frog, all day; Clothes Hound, 6-9pm & party at 7pm


  • Eating Disorders Myth Busters, 11:30am-1pm, Rams Head


  • Information and Research Fair, 11am-1pm, The Pit
  • Hip Hop Master Class with Joseph Nontanovan, 6:30-7:45pm, SRC
    Come celebrate your body at a FREE Hip Hop Dance class with renowned dancer and choreographer Joseph Nontanovan from Step Up! Every day your body allows you to walk, dance, breathe, and laugh – so celebrate that fact! Joseph’s hip-hop class will be about having fun and feeling good (not about burning calories or changing your shape). When you feel good about yourself, you project a confidence that makes you beautiful, so come to dance and appreciate all that your body can do!
  • Free Film Screening: CHISEL, a CWS Peer Health Organization and the MRC are co-sponsoring a showing of Cover Girl Culture: Awakening the Media Generation, 8pm. Undergraduate Library Room 205. Come watch the film, enjoy free snacks, and participate in a discussion afterwards


  • Greek Groove, 7pm, Memorial Hall
    Greek Groove
     is a dance competition open to every Panhellenic chapter on campus, requiring each team to submit a dance of around 3 minutes.  This year’s event benefits NEDAwareness Week!


Are you a self-proclaimed “foodie”? If so, today is a special day for you. Today is National Food Day, a day dedicated to celebrating healthy, affordable and sustainable food.
The typical fast-food driven American diet has severe health implications such as increased risk for disease and premature death. Acknowledging these consequences, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) created the Food Day campaign just one year ago as a movement toward a better food system.

In only one year’s time Food Day has become viral, engaging all Americans to “eat real”! Food Day supporters believe that Americans of all ages, races, incomes and geographic locations should have the opportunity to select healthy dietary choices.
Learn more about this movement by watching the food day video here:

Want to get involved?