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Eating and Body Image

Eating issues includes eating disorders as well as ways of eating, or not eating, that causes someone distress or overtakes their life. This can look like over exercising, binge eating, using laxatives or purging after eating, emotional eating, refusing to eat, eating only a few foods, eliminating entire categories of food, obsessing over food, inability to eat while in the presence of other people, rituals around food, and avoiding social situations which interfere with a food regime or is too “tempting” to eat eliminated foods (National Eating Disorders Association, 2020). Eating disorders are not a choice, they are serious conditions which require treatment. Full recovery is possible and early intervention is crucial.

College can be a time of transition and significant change in a person’s life, which can increase the risk of experiencing eating issues.  In addition to the stress of change, people in college may also experience preoccupation with body image, societal messages of an “ideal” body, as well as bonding with others over our own perceived physical flaws. Athletes in college are also at an increased risk of experiencing eating disorders, one study found that 35% of female and 10% of male college athletes were at risk for anorexia nervosa; 58% of female and 38% of male college athletes were at risk for bulimia nervosa; and among female college athletes surveyed, 25.5% had subclinical eating disorder symptoms (National Eating Disorders Association, 2020).

All types of people experience eating issues and no one can tell by looking at another person if they have an eating issue.  Transgender individuals experience eating disorders at higher rates than cisgender individuals.  People of color are less likely to receive treatment for an eating disorder, despite meeting diagnostic criteria.  Half of those who experience an eating disorder also abuse alcohol and/or drugs.  Individuals who have a mobility-related disability may experience more dissatisfaction, dissociation, or sensitivity regarding their body size (National Eating Disorders Association, 2020). Eating issues effect everyone. 

Eating issues, even when they do not rise to the level of an eating disorder, can cause significant health complications and we encourage you to speak to your medical doctor as well as a counselor who has specialized training in eating issues.

Resources:

What are eating disorders 
Body image and eating disorders 
Disordered Eating as a Precursor to Eating Disorders 
How does social media affect your body image? 
There’s No Such Thing As “Failure” In Recovery 
Male Eating Disorders: What Do We Know and Where Do We Go Next? 
How Do I Open Up About My Eating Issues?   AND  Sharing Concerns About Your Eating Behaviors
Eating Disorders: What Are They? 
Inside the Eating Disordered Mind 
National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2020 
National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2020 Video#2 
National Eating Disorders Association: Special Support for COVID-19 
National Eating Disorder Association
FREE Eating Support during COVID-19 
Health At Every Size Principles 
Ten Principles of Intuitive Eating 
Why And How to Give Yourself Permission to Eat Anything 
Rethinking Food Addiction 
Food Psych Podcast by Christy Harrison, MPH, RD, CDN 
Food Psych #150: Disordered Eating & Gender Identity with Sand Chang 
Columbia River Eating Disorders Network
Eating Recovery Center 
Center for Discovery Eating Disorder Treatment 
Monte Nido Eating Disorder Treatment 
Trans Folx Fighting Eating Disorders 
Nalgona Positivity Pride (eating disorder awareness organization centered on Black, Indigenous, people of color) 
Sage and Spoon: FREE Online Eating Disorder Peer Support Groups for BIPOC 
FREE Self-Compassion Exercises and Guided Meditations 
FREE Ten Self-Compassion Exercises for COVID-19 
The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion: Kristin Neff TEDxTalk 
Body Trust is a Birthright TEDxTalk 
Why Brene Brown Says Perfectionism Is a 20-Ton Shield