Nutrition major turns struggle into opportunity to help others

June 18, 2019

While it started out as a threat to her health and her academic success, Anita Daryanani turned her experience with an eating disorder into a way to help others.

Daryanani, a junior studying nutrition at the College of Health Solutions with a focus in dietetics, struggled with feeling self-conscious about her body in adolescence, which developed into an eating disorder. In high school, the disorder progressed to the point that she was hospitalized and almost admitted to an inpatient treatment center.

Affirming messages written on post-it notes such as "i am enough" for an ASU event about eating disorder awareness

Affirming messages from Anita Daryanani's eating disorder awareness event


But being at the center conflicted with her ability to go to school, and she motivated herself to cooperate with treatment to work toward her goal of going to college.

“As the restriction progressed, it interfered with everything in my life — classes, extracurricular activities and my social life,” she said.

Years later, Daryanani has turned her struggle into a way to share her experience with others facing similar problems.

Daryanani now works as a nutrition educator at ASU Wellness. Along with her team of seven other dietetics students, she strives to promote healthy and mindful eating, body positivity and overall nutrition.

“I decided to get involved with the nutrition program and [pursue a] nutrition major because I want to help those who struggled with what I did,” Daryanani said.

“As with many illnesses, eating disorders only get worse as time progresses,” Daryanani said. “So it’s important for people to get help as soon as possible to minimize any potential complications.”

Daryanani coordinated various events at ASU for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week in February. Activities included trivia about body image and eating disorders to educate students on the topic, a screening of a documentary and a Q-and-A panel discussion with Recovery Rising representatives. Recovery Rising is a student group that supports Sun Devils who are in recovery from addiction and eating disorders.  

She said that recovery can be scary and intimidating, but having the right support and empathy throughout the process can make the process easier.

“It took a lot of support and motivation, but I started accepting who I was and found a healthy balance between food and exercise,” Daryanani said. “Food is fuel, not an enemy.”

Looking forward, Daryanani said that being able to empathize with her future clients as a nutritionist will serve as an advantage and allow her to help others who struggled with what she did.

Visit the ASU Wellness site for resources about nutrition, wellness, counseling and more.