The purpose of HEART (Healthy Eating Assessment & Referral Team) is to provide high quality, interdisciplinary, coordinated assessment and referral services. HEART is comprised of licensed health care providers and counselors from Cook Counseling Center, Schiffert Health Center, and Recreational Sports.

HEART recognizes the need for specialized services for individuals with eating disorders; however, we are not equipped to provide intensive and specialized treatment services. Individuals with concerns pertaining to eating, body image, or similar concerns are referred to HEART for further evaluation to make recommendations about the level of care appropriate to achieve success. Some individuals may be at a level of care in which members of HEART would be appropriate.

For more information about HEART and signs and symptoms of Eating Disorders, visit the official HEART website.  

Enrollment

Your first contact with HEART can be made by scheduling an appointment with the Case Manager at the Schiffert Health Center (540-231-6445), or by visiting the Cook Counseling Center to complete your intake form and visit with a counselor. Both of these departments are located in McComas Hall.  If you would like to refer a student to be contacted by the HEART group, please complete this referral form.

Overexercising

Repeatedly exercising beyond what is considered safe is associated with dehydration, stress fractures, amenorrhea, thyroid suppression, and heart problems. The American College of Sports Medicine, as well as the US Centers for Disease Control, recommend “30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days per week.” Vigorously exercising for more than one hour per day, on most days per week, may be healthy for the average person, but it can be considered compulsive if the following occur:

  • Rigid adherence to the routine along with disordered eating
  • Feeling of intense guilt or anxiety if the routine is disrupted
  • Ignoring professional advice in order to maintain the routine
  • Continuing to exercise if you are ill, injured, or sleep-deprived
  • The routine is interfering with your other responsibilities or your ability to sustain close, healthy relationships

Eating Disorders in College Students

The most common eating disorders on college campuses are anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Both of these disorders occur more frequently in young women, bulimia being the more common. It is estimated that one in 20, college-age women have an eating disorder. Both disorders have serious medical consequences.

People who suffer from anorexia nervosa deliberately attempt to lose weight through self-starvation. Even though they may be extremely underweight, they see themselves as “fat” or are disgusted with their body image, deny any problem with their eating habits and will resist any efforts made to get them to eat or return to a more health weight.

People who suffer from bulimia engage in frequent, often daily, binge eating where they eat very large amounts of food, most likely in secret. They will then try to counteract the binge by purging, which may involve self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives or prolonged fasting and exercise.

Helping a Friend

While many people with anorexia nervosa or bulimia (or other eating disorders) deny having a problem and are reluctant to seek help, the disorder often comes to the attention of friends and family. A direct, caring and nonjudgmental expression of concern about their health by friends and family is often a vital first step in enabling people with eating disorders to seek appropriate treatment.

If you suspect a friend or loved one has a problem with excessive exercising or eating disorders, gently express your support and concern and help them gather information. 

Cook Counseling Center and Schiffert Health Center offer individual psychotherapy, medical and nutritional counseling  and self-help support groups for anyone suffering from these disorders. With proper help, people with eating disorders can learn to stabilize their eating patterns, maintain a health weight and resume a healthy lifestyle.

If you'd like help for yourself or others, please contact Cook Counseling, make a referral through HEART by following the link above, or contact the wellness coordinator in Recreational Sports, Shelly Rasnick (rasnicks@vt.edu), for more information.