Office Of Counseling Services Eating Disorders
Eating disorders can be common on college campuses where there is tremendous pressure to conform and a tendency to compare ourselves to others or an “ideal” body image. Unfortunately, eating disorders are extremely dangerous, and if untreated, can lead to death.
Common Symptoms of Eating Disorders
- Refusal to eat and maintain a healthy weight
- Intense and irrational fears about gaining weight
- Cessation of menstruation, due to malnutrition
- Episodes of binge eating (consuming much more food that is typical for one meal)
- Compensatory behaviors to rid one’s body of food or calories (vomiting, excessive exercise, laxatives)
Do I Contribute to Another’s Eating Disorder?
The culture of disordered eating is pervasive in our society. The following are ways in which we might unintentionally encourage eating disorders:
- Praising or glorifying another’s appearance based on body size or attractiveness.
- Complimenting someone when they lose weight or diet.
- Encouraging someone to lose weight.
- Talking negatively about our bodies.
- Discussing measurements, weight or clothing size.
- Thinking of foods as good or bad.
- Making fun of another person’s eating habits or food choices.
- Criticizing our own eating.
- Considering a person’s weight important.
- Saying someone is “healthy” or “well” because they are thin.
- Expecting perfection.
- Encouraging more exercise than is healthy.
- Assuming that a large person wants or needs to lose weight.
- Allowing the media to dictate what body type is “in”.
(Information provided by the Renfrew Center.)
If you or someone you know seems overly concerned with exercise, this could be an indication of eating disorder behavior. You may want to reach out for help if you or someone you know:
- exercises more often and more intensely than is necessary for good health and performance excellence;
- must work out five to seven days a week for at least two hours per session, even if s/he is ill or injured;
- defines him/herself in terms of her performance;
- is never satisfied with his/her performance;
- takes more and more time away from work, school, or relationships to exercise;
- organizes his/her life around exercise at the expense of friendships,family activities, and school activities;
- is obsessed with weight and diet; or,
- feels guilty when s/he misses a workout and can’t seem to let go of the guilt.
(Information from “Like Mother, Like Daughter” by Debra Waterhouse.)
See our Helpful Resources page for more information about Eating Disorders.
If you are concerned about the eating patterns or behaviors of yourself or a friend, contact the Office of Counseling Services.