Alexandria McPhail

Alex encourages nutrition at Iowa State

Alex McPhail’s personal struggles growing up led her to her major at Iowa State. Alex developed orthorexia nervosa during her freshman year of high school. Her friends helped draw her attention to the eating disorder.

“My friends were looking out for me,” she said. “I was eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, but restricted myself from eating too much. I was also exercising too much, and I lost a lot of weight because of it.”

At her lowest, Alex weighed 90 pounds and stood about 5 feet 2 inches. It took her the summer to regain the weight and teach herself it’s okay to not eat perfectly every day.

It was through her recovery she became interested in dietetics. Alex learned there’s a lot of options to fit healthy food into a diet, and she wanted to be an advocate for others going through similar struggles. Her interest in dietetics made her decision to attend Iowa State easy having the only dietetics program in the state.

To start helping others on campus, she joined the Body Image and Eating Disorder Awareness group, also known as BIEDA. The club promotes a positive and sustainable lifestyle body image and eating disorder awareness.

“It’s important to be positive about yourself,” she said. “Some days are better than others, but the small things this club does show support.”

Alex also joined the ISU Dining Food Committee. Through this, she and other students talk to the chefs at ISU Dining to get more vegan, vegetarian, and special diet foods in the dining centers. They also plan more options for meal bundles.

Even through her struggles, Alex has stayed positive and wants to encourage everyone else to do the same.

“The biggest thing is to find one or two people you trust who support you,” she said. “Find people who care to support you.”