8730 Mitchell Rd
PO Box 910
La Plata, MD 20646-0910
There’s a BIG difference between “normal” dieting to change one’s eating habits to be more healthy and eating disorders. It is not uncommon for college students to be vulnerable to different types of eating disorders. High school and college experiences, including comparing oneself to other students, stress of academic work, family pressure or issues, relationship difficulties, changes in one’s body and level of comfort, hectic schedules, and many other stressors, can impact a student in one way or another to set the stage to develop an eating disorder. Not to leave out how our society has become increasingly obsessed with weight and physical appearance. As many as 10% of women and 1% of men suffer from an eating disorder. There are a variety of effective and available treatments, such as counseling and medications as well as treatment centers for eating disorders.
Anorexia: This involves a refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight. There is intense fear of weight gain or being “fat.” There is the feeling of being “fat” or overweight despite dramatic weight loss. Menstrual periods stop in girls and post-puberty women. There is extreme concerns with body weight and shape. There are feelings of shame or guilt. In appearance, the person is significantly underweight.
Bulimia: This is when a person eats large quantities of food in short periods of time, often in secret, without regard to feelings of “hunger” or “fullness” and to the point of feeling “out of control” while eating. Following these “binges,” a person will use some form of purging or compensatory behavior to make up for the excessive calories eaten. These forms of purging can be self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic abuse, fasting, and/or obsessive/compulsive exercise. There is extreme concern with body weight and shape. There are also feelings of shame or guilt. In appearance, the person often looks to be a normal weight for their age and height, so those closest to them may not realize anything is wrong. Also with appearance, the person may have discolored teeth and gums.
Binge Eating: There are frequent episodes of eating large quantities of food in short periods of time, often done in secret, without regard to feelings of “hunger” or “fullness.” There are frequent feelings of being “out of control” during these binges. Large quantities of food are eaten rapidly, without really tasting the food. Usually this type of eating is done alone. Usually there is no purging. There is also extreme concern with body weight and shape even though the person may be gaining weight in the binge eating process.