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Eating Disorders in College

Starting college is an exciting part of a young person’s life. It is a time of intense change. You’re leaving your family, moving to a new place where you don’t know many or any people. You want to make a good first impression. You want to do well in school. You want to make your family proud. All of these experiences and feelings are normal.

But for some college students, the pressure to excel in academics, to thrive socially and to be independent becomes too much. Disordered eating patterns may or may not have begun during adolescence. A concern about body weight and body image becomes an obsession. Perhaps you picked up tips about getting thin from your peers, or you observed some disordered eating patterns in a friend. You need to weigh more than once a day, calculating calories, and exercising not to keep fit but to burn off the food that you ate. You skip meals or purge your food after overeating. You may use diet pills, laxatives or diuretics. You look in the mirror and place self-worth on how you look and what you weigh. Or, you may now eat in secret. You may have tremendous urges to eat large quantities of food, eating until you are so uncomfortable it’s hard to move. You may purge the food or you may not. You cannot escape the guilt and shame you feel. The pressure you feel to excel academically can feel overwhelming even when you know no one is pressuring you but your own perfectionism. The anxiety can feel out of control. The reach for food seems like the only escape - the only relief.  At the same time the shame and guilt is insurmountable.  You notice things are changing. Sometimes people tell you that you look good and that makes it worse because you know what you’ve done to get “there.”  And you keep going. Then your hair starts to get dry and brittle – it may even thin and break or come out in clumps. Your skin also is dry and might even change a bit in color – not as vibrant. You begin to look sickly. You apply more make-up.  Someone says you are getting to thin and asks if you are ok. You think, “They know.” The shame is great, but you can’t stop. You start to wear bigger or baggy clothes to hide. You might even want help, but don’t know where to go or who to ask.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with disordered eating, don’t wait to seek help. You cannot beat an eating disorder alone and side effects from these behaviors can be dangerous, even deadly. The sooner you get help, the better your chances of recovery. We can help call now for a few assessment 800.711.2062