When a student approached Notre Dame psychology professor Alexandra Corning several years ago about writing a senior thesis on eating disorders, Corning said she knew very little about the topic. Now, she conducts research about eating disorders and teaches an undergraduate course titled “Understanding Eating Disorders.” While diagnosable eating disorders are a major concern, Corning said she focuses on the large number of people who struggle with symptoms, but do not have a diagnosable disorder. Statistics, however, are not always accurate because eating disorders and related symptoms are often underreported, according to Valerie Staples, staff clinician and coordinator of eating disorder services at the University Counseling Center. Students wanting to help a friend, Staples said, must address specific concerns about behaviors in a compassionate, nonjudgmental manner. “It’s not about finding the perfect words,” she said. “I don’t have tips on how to make this an easy conversation, but I think there really isn’t a wrong way to tell someone you’re worried about them.” There are three types of eating disorders, Corning said. They fall under the categories of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and not otherwise specified. Not all symptoms fit under these categories, and some fit under all of them. For example, Corning said over-exercising can be a symptom of anorexia, but also a form of purging after binge eating associated with bulimia. “I think that there’s, for some, a misconception that people can’t get better,” she said. “And if I didn’t see people get better, I don’t think I could keep doing this [job.] … It’s a long process of change, but people can overcome an eating disorder and live very long, full lives without this consuming them.” “Even when you’re struggling sub-clinically, you’re struggling,” Corning said. “Our campus, even if you looked around and discovered, yes, full-blown, diagnosable cases are rare … there’s lots of people who are struggling at a sub-clinical level.” While she said the study did not set out to find statistics in that area and was not an entirely random sample, the findings did show that eating disorder symptoms are frequent on campus. While realizing the prevalence of disordered eating and the difficultly of confronting these issues can be discouraging, Staples said she finds hope in stories of recovery. One in three college-aged women has disordered eating habits, although only nearly 10 percent have a full-fledged eating disorder, according the University Counseling Center and resources distributed on Notre Dame’s campus this week as part of Body Image and Eating Disorder Awareness Week, sponsored by the Gender Relations Center. Eating disorders and body image issues are prevalent for the college-aged population due to competition and comparison among students, Staples said. “And [college students today] have grown up in a culture where there’s more bombardment of these images,” she said. Of all the students who came to the University Counseling Center last year, Staples said the Center’s annual report indicates that 10.3 percent reported eating concerns. Yet in addition to working with students who have eating disorders, Staples also meets with concerned friends. “Every year, every semester, I have people calling me or coming in in groups to consult about a friend who they’re worried about,” Staples said. “When I’m consulting with them about how to help a friend, we spend a lot of time talking about not only what they can say to their friend, but also about what to expect.” “Of the people who signed up for our study and were in it … 56.2 percent either had a diagnosable eating disorder or showed symptoms,” Corning said. “It means that if you think no one else is struggling, you’re wrong.” Corning said it is important for students to understand that they are not alone in facing symptoms of eating disorders. A study she did in 2006 found that a great number of female undergraduates at Notre Dame displayed these symptoms. Staples said she finds the amount of student energy and participation in the event this week to be extremely encouraging. One of the most important aspects of Body Image and Eating Disorder Awareness Week is based on educating students about how they might help a friend with an eating disorder, she said. “Even if students on campus think that they don’t know somebody with an eating disorder, it’s very likely they do,” she said. “We have a lot of members of our community who are really struggling and who are in a lot of physical and emotional pain.” Eating disorder symptoms are prevalent in both men and women in part because popular culture provides constant reminders of a thin ideal for women and a muscular ideal for men, Corning said.
The McClimon Soccer Complex has been unkind to the Wisconsin men’s soccer team so far this year. In three games, the Badgers have scored only two goals and have yet to win a game. They will get another chance to turn their home fortune around Saturday when they host the Cleveland State Vikings.Wisconsin will welcome CSU to Madison, fresh off the heels of a debilitating overtime loss to undefeated rival and 10th-ranked Marquette Wednesday night. The Badgers battled the game into overtime when Nick Janus scored the equalizer in the 78th minute.The first overtime lacked a goal, and Marquette quickly won after just three minutes of the second frame. The focus now turns to the Vikings (4-4-1) and setting the right foot forward at McClimon.Wisconsin failed to impress in its home opener but have made improvements ever since. Wisconsin tied then-No. 13 Georgetown and was nipped by Penn State in the final minutes. Sophomore defender David Caban attributed the Badgers’ improvement throughout the year to a change in strategy.“The defensive change has allowed me to solidify my role in the back, and everyone else as a team solidifying their areas,” Caban said, noting the Badgers have switched to a 4-2-3-1 alignment, the same they used last season.Wisconsin made the most of that positioning last season with strong defensive efforts. The team entered the Georgetown game having surrendered 10 goals in just four games. In the five games since, the Badgers have conceded just four scores.Wisconsin’s success has likely come from the Badgers’ familiarity with the defensive-minded scheme. It led them to six one-goal victories in 2011, and they hope it can continue to do so.“When we switched back to that set [against Georgetown] you could tell we felt a lot more comfortable playing that formation,” Caban said. “It is easier to play as a team. We have a lot more guys around the ball.”That group of guys has become increasingly consistent, too. At the start of the season, the Badgers used an attack of 15 or 16 players each getting plenty of minutes. Now, they use about 13 or 14 in their strategy, a move that has looked forced.“We don’t have that luxury at this point,” head coach John Trask said of getting more players in the game. “We have to go with our best players, and I think most college teams do. If we were sitting better, maybe we could look at someone else.”In that core group, a few freshmen have played important roles for the Badgers this season. While much has been made of freshman Chase Rau starting in goal for the Badgers, another freshman, midfielder Drew Conner, has quietly had just as great an impact.Conner is the only freshman to start all nine games for Wisconsin (2-4-3) and has logged an impressive 870 minutes, third-best on the team. Having been subbed out of just one game, he remains only 18 minutes short of the season-maximum pace set by defenders A.J. Cochran and Paul Yonga.While the amount of playing time the midfielder has been given is impressive, his expectation coming to Madison was to start all along.“Coming in, I wanted to start and play a big impact,” Conner said. “That was my plan – to come in and make this team better.”As one of the youngest players on the team, Conner has looked to his coaches in helping him get acquainted with the Wisconsin soccer squad.“We put a lot of trust in these coaches and we have a lot of respect for them,” Conner said. “We know if we do what they want, we will usually be successful.”That success can come as early as Saturday night against Cleveland State. With the UW football team out of town, the soccer team will be ready to host a large crowd and earn its first home victory of the season.With the Badgers already behind in the Big Ten title race, they will need every victory they can get in hopes of bolstering their NCAA tournament r?sum?. Nonconference games like the one this weekend are a great start.“If we can do well and get on to the positive ledge, I think people might be surprised when the initial RPI rankings come out,” Trask said. “We’ve played a lot of very difficult games; we’ve tested our guys. We just have to start picking up some wins.”