As our culture continues to emphasize the importance of physical appearance it is no surprise that many college students feel the pressure to conform to these oftentimes unrealistic standards. The traits of self-discipline and attention to detail that are encouraged in the successful college student can also be risk factors for the development of eating disorders. Intense fear of gaining weight, restricting food intake, failure to maintain a healthy body weight, binge eating, a sense of little control over eating, compensatory behavior in order to prevent weight gain (vomiting, misuse of laxatives, fasting or excessive exercise) are all symptoms that may be related to disordered eating. For most people the development of an eating disorder is more than just the desire to be thin. Many sufferers report low self-esteem, distorted self-image or feelings of being out of control. Depression, anxiety, anger and guilt often accompany the disordered eating and can complicate the recovery. Examples of Eating Disorders include:
A refusal to maintain bodyweight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height. Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. Distorted self-evaluation of own body weight or shape and a denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight. Failure to maintain at least three consecutive menstrual cycles.
- During the current episode the person has not regularly engaged in binge-eating or purging behavior
- During the current episode the person has regularly engaged in binge-eating or purging behavior.
Recurrent episodes of binge eating and compensatory behavior. Binge eating is characterized by eating, in a discrete period of time, an amount of food larger than most people would eat in a similar circumstance and a lack of control over eating during the episode. Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior to prevent weight gain (vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, enemas, medications, fasting or excessive exercise). Binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behavior both occur, on average, at least twice a week for three months. Self evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight.
- During the current episode the person has regularly engaged in self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics or enemas.
- During the current episode the person has used other inappropriate compensatory behaviors, such as fasting or excessive exercise, but has not regularly engaged in self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics or enemas.
Binge Eating Disorder
Characterized by recurrent binge-eating episodes that are not followed by purging, excessive exercise or fasting. As a result many people with binge-eating disorder are overweight and experience great degrees or depression, guilt, shame and distress which often results in more binge-eating.