La. schools prepare to add eating disorder education to curriculum

With a new school year coming up, Louisiana schools are adding a new element to their...
With a new school year coming up, Louisiana schools are adding a new element to their curriculum - talking about eating disorders.
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 7:43 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Eating disorders aren’t new, but how we discuss them might be changing - a new state law means Louisiana students will soon get information on eating disorders while in the classroom.

Many of us have seen the magazines, television ads, and pictures on the internet of what we should look like. Sometimes those images we see have lasting effects on our bodies and brains.

“I think if anything, it highlights the importance of having the conversation. You know there’s opportunities, there’s always been opportunities to have nutrition education in our schools, " said Jacqueline Richard, director of the Calcasieu School Nutrition Program.

With a new school year coming up, Louisiana schools are adding a new element to their curriculum- talking about eating disorders. In Calcasieu Parish, teachers are turning to LSU Ag Center program “Health Rocks” to educate students in grades six through 12 on healthy eating habits and to warn them of the dangers of eating disorders.

“I want our community to know that it’s important to view and discuss food as fuel, and yes it’s important to have a wide variety of foods and different food groups on the plate, that’s very important, but taking out the conversation of good food versus bad food and focusing on fuel and how to fuel the body for success is the most important conversation that parents need to have with their kids,” Richard said.

Dietitians can help parents spot the signs of an eating disorder.

“There’s a few warning signs that parents can look out for. So, if their child is having anxiety around meals, skipping meals, big fluctuations in their weight, those are some concerns. If they are wearing overly baggy clothes when it’s really hot outside, not always because I know it’s a fad with our teens. If they’re thin, binging or purging, leaving after meals, those are some signs parents should look for,“ Tabitha Nicholas, a registered dietitian said.

For some, eating disorder education hits close to home. Eating disorder survivor Jillian Cormier hopes that the eating disorder education will help more children be knowledgeable about eating disorders and their risks.

“It’s honestly heartbreaking - it was already a journey in itself being diagnosed with an eating disorder, going to treatment, coming home getting back into a routine, and when you come home you really need that support system, and not having that really remotely at home, I had to get up every few days and go to Lafayette for treatment. It’s so complex. There are so many levels to an eating disorder, it’s almost like an onion. It’s not just about the food,” Cormier said.

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