Activity Overview

Having an eating disorder is not a choice. An eating disorder is a coping mechanism used when someone is experiencing a loss of control over different aspects of their life. When people do not have control of aspects in their life, they will reach for anything to regain that feeling of control again. They can’t control school assignments, parental expectations, or their schedule. One thing they can control is their weight. This feel of getting control over something may be their way of coping with the other stressors. Teaching healthy coping skills will help relieve the pressure to control.

In this activity, students will create a storyboard illustrating an unhealthy and a healthy coping strategy to combat uncontrollable stressors. Ask students to brainstorm things that stress them out. Next, ask them to think about different ways they can relieve stress in a healthier manner. Listening to music, socializing, prioritizing their time, relaxing, or physical activity are answers you may hear. Having students show how an eating disorder may only temporarily relieve stress while causing several other problems is the main goal of this activity. It is important to caution students against creating disturbing scenes that may be a trigger to themselves or others.

Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of how people suffering from an eating disorder negatively adapt to stress.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Come up with three everyday stressors. They must be out of the control of the main character.
  3. Create a visual of those stressors in the first cell of each row, including a title of the theme (row) and label (column).
  4. Create a visual of someone using an eating disorder as a way to cope with that stress in the second cell of each row while labeling it ‘Unhealthy Cope’. Make sure to use school appropriate content.
  5. Next create a healthy coping strategy in the third column with ‘Healthy Coping’ as a label.
  6. Finally include a brief description under each cell explaining what is happening for the stressor, why the unhealthy coping is dangerous, and elaborate on the healthy coping.
  7. Save often!

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-12

Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)

Type of Assignment Individual or Partner


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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Coping Skills and Disordered Eating

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