SOP — Suspicion of Unhealthy Eating or Exercise Behaviors

May 12, 2011

Sarah DiSabato
Associate Director, Facilities
Recreation and Wellness
University of Central Florida

Today, University Recreation Facilities are attracting a diverse and large number of participants. A significant number of staff who operate our facilities and run our programs are student employees. As they strive to provide the best recreation facilities and programs, an important goal is to deliver great customer service – and doing this means you need to know your participants and what their needs are. A sensitive topic which continues to be a challenge is the issue of student users who appear to be exercising excessively and/or those who exhibit behaviors of unhealthy eating habits (restricting food or binge eating and utilizing exercise to purge). How do our student employees and professional staff handling this? A framework that the University of Central Florida devised provides the staff with some guidelines as we work our way through responding to those with unhealthy eating or exercise behaviors:

– When a building employee has identified the behavior of a user to be characteristic of someone with an eating disorder or overly obsessive exercise habits, the employee should immediately notify the Fitness Coordinator.
– During this time, the employee should also begin to initiate causal conversations with the user in hopes of forming a relationship; the users name should be one of the first pieces of information gathered.
– The same employee should remain in contact with the user – not different or multiple employees.
– The Fitness Coordinator will start a file on the user documenting all interactions with building employees and facility usage.
– All interactions with the user should be reported to the Fitness Coordinator immediately and it will be the job of the Fitness Coordinator to keep the file updated.
– The intent is to have the employee try to form a genuine relationship with the user in hopes the user will open up to the employee.
– If a good relationship is established, the employee and the Fitness Coordinator will speak to the user about possible avenues for getting help, such as the Counseling Center. The Fitness Specialist may assist the user in scheduling an appointment and may even accompany to the appointment if need be.
– Follow up with the user will be conducted by the employee and the Fitness Coordinator.

Using a team approach, the department uses many resources to try and be of help in situations such as these. Relationship building is our primary emphasis in establishing the communication needed for intervention and referral.

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