- College is a setting where many students can develop eating disorders. This affects both women and men, and a vast majority do not seek help or do not realize the extent of this issue. Students with eating disorders take such concerns to extremes, developing abnormal eating habits that threaten their well-being and even their lives. Starting at a new university can create a wide range of situations that precipitate eating disorders in susceptible individuals through, stress, high standards, dysfunctional relationships, low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness, and intense dissatisfaction with the way they look.
Common eating disorders include:
- Characterized by an unhealthy fixation on thinness, distorted body image and fears of gaining weight, this disorder results in disturbed eating behaviors and emaciation.
- This is a binge eating disorder, involving recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food, followed by behavior that compensates for binging, like purging, fasting or over-exercising.
Binge Eating Disorder
- BED is characterized by constant cravings that occur any time of day and that then result in binge eating. This is often associated with poor body image and low self-esteem
The signs and symptoms of eating disorders vary by person and condition. However, there are several red flags that are common factors for anorexia, bulimia and binging.
- Distorted or poor body image
- Excessive exercise
- Irregular heartbeats
- Feeling like eating is out of control
- Fear of eating in public
- Constantly making excuses for eating habits
Many college students do not seek treatment for their eating disorder, nor do they believe they’ve developed a problem. Eating disorders are potentially life threatening and can contribute to serious health issues if not treated properly. Here are some signs to look for that could indicate an eating disorder:
- Are you skipping meals or only eating small portions?
- Are you suddenly uninterested in food?
- Are you limiting their meals to foods very low in calories?
- Are you taking diet pills excessively or medication that suppresses hunger? Does your friend disappear suddenly to the restroom after meals?
- Are your teeth noticeably stained?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be developing an eating disorder and it may be helpful to contact counseling and wellness services (CWS) for a mental health assessment that can help determine if you are experiencing an eating disorder.
- Many college students and young adults have a negative body image during their college years, it’s important to prevent problematic behaviors from evolving into full-fledged eating disorders.