How to Deal With Eating Disorders in College

January 20, 2017

Have you heard of “freshman 15”? We bet you did, and we’re sure that many you have even experienced it. That weight problem is rooted in an eating disorder, and that’s not a single problem connected with eating disorders that students face during their college years. Tens of thousands of college students develop eating disorders and unfortunately the vast majority of them don’t seek assistance and don’t even understand that they have a problem.

Eating disorders revolve around food and unite a wide range of issues and conditions. According to National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD):

  • 95% of those with eating disorders are people aged from 12 to 25
  • 91% of college women try to regulate their weight with the help of dieting
  • 25% of college women use such extreme measures as binging and purging to regulate their weight

Though the last two statistical facts relate to women, men are also likely to develop an eating disorder.

A list of the most common eating disorders consists of:

  • Anorexia Nervosa – those who suffer from this disorder have a strong fear of gaining weight which results in emaciation and disturbing eating behaviors
  • Bulimia Nervosa – type of a binge eating disorder. Those who have bulimia nervosa usually take very big portions of food at one time and then purge, fast, or over-exercise
  • Binge Eating Disorder – characterized by a very strong craving for food that occurs many times during the day and results in eating huge portions of food. This disorder is often connected with low self-esteem and poor body image

Symptoms Of Eating Disorders

There are different symptoms that are manifested when the person has an eating disorder. All of them vary greatly depending on every person and their mental condition. However, there are some behavioral tendencies that are common for anorexia, bulimia, and binging:

  • Poor body image
  • Immoderate exercise
  • Being afraid of eating in public
  • Always feeling sorry for eating habits
  • Dehydration

Mental Health Issues. Eating Disorders

The vast majority of students don’t even understand that they have developed an eating disorder. Because of the lack of such understanding, they don’t seek cures from these disturbing health issues. If no attention is paid to an eating disorder, it can turn into a serious health issue, such as:

  • Loss of female menstruation
  • Problems with reproductive system
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart problems

Recognizing The Signs Of An Eating Disorder

All of us have busy times when we have no time to eat at all or we eat junk food. If it happens from time to time and your eating schedule gets back to normal, it’s not the reason to think that you have an eating disorder. However, when you notice that unhealthy or disturbing eating habits are becoming a routine for you or your friend, know it’s the time to take a closer look at this matter.

Here is a list of signs that may indicate the presence of an eating disorder in somebody:

  • Skipping meals or consuming only very small portions
  • Becoming suddenly uninterested in food that was the favorite
  • Taking excessive amount of hunger suppressors such as Adderall or Ritalin
  • Disappearing in the restroom after taking meals and using mints to mask the smell from the mouth
  • Skipping meals for a day and then overeating on the next day
  • Being obsessed with a body shape and counting calories with every food intake
  • Having very strict diet restrictions and feeling very guilty when breaking them

If you gave a positive answer to one or more questions from the list, then you or your friend may have some type of an eating disorder. If you’ve analyzed yourself and found these symptoms, admit your problem and consult a professional psychotherapist. If your friend has these symptoms, approach him or her very carefully, show your sincere concern and offer your help.

Eating Disorder Resources

These resources will be very helpful when dealing with eating disorders:

  • National Eating Disorder Association
  • American College Health Association
  • National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Distorted Disorders
  • Eating Disorder Hope
  • Academy for Eating Disorders

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