Body Image and Eating Disorders in College Students: Interview with Dr. Daniel Zamir

Dr. Daniel Zamir, former Student Counselor at UCLA, discusses the role of body image issues and eating disorders on college campuses.



Body Image and Eating Disorders

The following transcript contains part of an exclusive interview with the Editor of PsychAlive and Dr. Daniel Zamir.

Dr. Daniel Zamir: I see individual patients who have body image issues and eating disorders I guess is the more severe form of that.  And then we have a group for people with eating disorders at the Counseling Center, which is really, kind of, a supportive group.  So they, people come in each week and talk about their issues, and we have kind of different topics that we talk about with them in relation to body image, and different exercises for them to do to kind of explore how their eating disorder works.

And very early on, they start setting goals around kind of normalizing eating, and helping them get in touch kind of with their healthy voices.  The way they talk about it in the group is this idea that your eating disorder is really self-destructive.  And that, at least during the course of the group, like dieting is not an option.  It’s really about normalizing eating and getting out of this mindset of the eating disorder of either starving yourself or harming your body in some other way.

So people set goals around kind of taking apart these rules they’ve made for themselves is often times how it looks.  So sometimes there are rules about, “I can only eat these certain foods or I can’t eat any carbohydrates at all and I need to exercise three hours a day.”  And starting to kind of take apart some of these rules and bring eating back to kind of normal and letting go of some of the control of kind of the eating disorder is really kind of the first step to help people, yeah, to help people – it’s kind of a similar process I just described with anxiety — in that it’s helping people step out of this idea of, “I need to look this certain way in order to be OK and I need to not eat these thing in order to be OK or engage in these other behaviors.”

And there’s a huge element of all the groups, really, that’s about seeing other people who have similar issues that you do and recognizing that you’re not the only person on campus with an eating disorder or with depression.  And that there’s other people who get through it and who have meaningful lives and relationships and even, sometimes, people who have come out the other side and are feeling better to varying degrees.  And I think that’s really kind of inspiring and helpful and just having people who you’re going through it with, I think, helps a lot.

About the Author

Daniel Zamir, Psy.D Dr. Danny Zamir is a clinical psychologist in Santa Barbara, CA. He practices psychology at University of California, Santa Barbara and teaches at Pacifica Graduate Institute. In addition, he has a private practice where he conducts individual therapy and couples counseling, specializing in the intersection of physical and mental health as well as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for anxiety disorders.

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