College is a Time When Eating Disorders Present Themselves
The start of college is usually a memorable event for many young people, but for some it can also be an stressful period that triggers a dangerous battle with an eating disorder.
For the young woman who is for the first time away from home, the idea of moving to a completely new environment can be pretty stressful. With new people, new schedules, and new trends, students are more susceptible to develop an eating disorder to keep up and fit in with their peers. Mary Boggiano, an Associate Professor of Psychology at University of Alabama at Birmingham, writes about her struggle with bulimia and the signs to watch for when battling an eating disorder.
"A lot of students have heard about the 'freshman 15,'" says Boggiano. "To keep from gaining weight, some students engage in risky behaviors such as excessive dieting (anorexic behavior) or purging food (bulimic behavior).
In many cases, young women learn about the risky behaviors from others students in their dorm or over the Internet, so that obsession about weight can become infectious."
The two most common forms of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia. A person suffering from anorexia eats very little, or stops eating all together, in order to control their weight. Someone who suffers from bulimia prevents weight gain by vomiting or using laxatives to get rid of the food they have eaten. Another form of eating disorder is binge eating disorders, or BED. A person suffering from this disorder eats unusually large amounts of food, without control, for a short period of time until they are uncomfortable; however the person does not purge or compensate for the food they have eaten.
Common symptoms of an eating disorder include:
• An obsession with calculating calories, carbohydrate grams and fat grams
• To weigh yourself consistently throughout the day
• Your mood is determined by the numbers that appear on your scale
• Skipping meals, exercising, or purging
• In stead of exercising for health or fun, you exercise just to burn calories
• Once you begin eating, you have the inability to stop
• Eating in secret
• After overeating you feel guilty, ashamed, or digusted
• Your self-work is based on looks or weight
• Continuously worried about body shape and weight
• Abusing laxatives or diet pills
Eating disorders are very dangerous and can often lead to long-term health problems. "Whatever you do, don't try to take care of it by yourself," says Boggiano. "It will only get worse."