Eating Disorder Classroom Activities

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Educating students about eating disorders need not be a difficult task. These activities are designed to broach the sensitive topic of eating disorders with finesse to empower students with knowledge and awareness.

What Is an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders are patterns of irregular or maladaptive behavior relating to the consumption of food. There are many factors that influence eating disorders including the desire for control, societal norms and peer pressure. Eating disorders often emerge in school-age males and females, so it is especially important to educate students about the risks associated with them.

Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by an obsession with weight, limited food intake, and a rapid loss of weight and/or body mass. Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by periods of binging, or excessive food intake, and purging. Purging occurs when an individual eats and then attempts to eliminate the food through vomiting, excessive exercise, laxative use or diuretic use to prevent weight gain. Binge Eating Disorder is marked by the excessive and often mindless consumption of food. Finally, other food-related behavior patterns can include extremely selective eating, or the regular craving for and/or consumption of nonfood items.

This lesson aims to provide several activities designed to help students understand and learn about eating disorders. When teaching students about eating disorders, it is vital to remain observant of student behaviors. This can be a difficult topic to address, and students may have unexpected reactions to some of the material.

Types of Eating Disorders Research Activity

A great way to teach students is to place them in charge of learning. For this project, students will take charge of learning by teaching the class what they learned about the characteristics and warning signs of a specific eating disorder.

Materials

  • Internet access
  • Internet-enabled devices
  • Poster board
  • Markers

Instructions

  • Begin by dividing the students into four groups. Assign each group with one of the following: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder and other eating disorders. Explain to the groups that they are responsible for creating public awareness posters for their assigned eating disorder.
  • Now have the groups use the the Internet to research their specific eating disorder. They should focus on risk factors, statistics, symptoms, and warning signs.
  • Once they have finished collecting facts about their assigned eating disorder, have them work together to design a poster to present what they've found. The idea is that anyone viewing this poster would be able to distinguish the type of eating disorder along with its symptoms and warning signs. Each poster must also provide a resource for accessing help for this particular eating disorder.
  • Finally, when all groups have finished their posters, have them present them to the class by describing their content analysis for the class.

Healthy Eating Activity

Temptation is everywhere when it comes to food, and this can lead to confusion about healthy eating. This activity teaches students the nuts and bolts of healthy eating and empowers them with a personalized plan.

Materials

  • Paper plates
  • Paper copies of governmental guidelines for a balanced diet (e.g. my plate and son on)
  • Assorted nutritional labels for food
  • Food magazines
  • Glue

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