Posts Tagged ‘Eating Disorders’

Navigating Campus with an Eating Disorder

School campus

College can be a particularity triggering time when you’re living with an eating disorder, and navigating school with the illness can be incredibly challenging. With school comes freedom, new experiences, homework, stress, group meals, and more. All of these can cause additional strain on recovery, which is why it’s important to be mindful of your recovery. Despite these challenges, there are certain things you can do to prevent relapse and encourage recovery.

How to Successfully Navigate Campus in Recovery

Start Treatment

Living with an untreated eating disorder is extremely dangerous and stressful. Unfortunately, if left untreated, the illnesses often progress over time. Due to their worsening nature, it’s essential to get eating disorder treatment as soon as possible. We know that starting treatment, especially in the midst of school, is extremely challenging. However, some eating disorder treatment centers are able to provide a treatment plan to fit into your life. If you are concerned about the time commitment, know that treatment centers like The Emily Program can work with your schedule to ensure you get the care you deserve. By starting treatment, you can ensure a successful school year where you can focus on school instead of food, body, or image. 

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Mealtime Tips

Chili soup

Eating disorders are complex illnesses that often lead to severe disturbances in thought patterns and behaviors. A key time when behaviors and thought patterns are illuminated is during meals. Those affected by eating disorders may dread or fear eating and experience anxiety, anger, and depression during mealtimes. 

What does Someone with an Eating Disorders Experience During Meals?

Individuals affected by eating disorders often cite mealtimes as a significant cause of distress. Since eating disorders typically accompany an intense preoccupation with food and body, they lead individuals into disordered eating patterns like restricting, bingeing, or purging. These patterns become solidified over time and become harder to challenge and break. In addition, those affected may experience significant distress over meals. Possible reactions and responses to meal times can include:

  • Anxiety, fear, or distress of the impending meal
  • Fear of the food served
  • Anxiety about eating, especially eating in public
  • Lack of appetite
  • Emotional disturbance 
  • Negative thought patterns like “I hate myself for eating this”
  • Unrealistic thought patterns such as “If I eat this I will become fat”
  • Activation of the body’s flight or fight response
  • Anger
  • Refusal to eat
  • Depression, anxiety, or experiencing an intense need to compensate after the meal is over

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Disordered Eating vs. Eating Disorders: What’s the Tipping Point?

Male teen looking out of a window

Eating disorders are hard to spot, especially when disordered eating behaviors are extremely common. From the prevalence of dieting to the glorification of excessive exercise, it can be tricky to understand when disordered behaviors spiral into a full-blown eating disorder.

What is Disordered Eating?

Disordered eating includes unhealthy food and body behaviors, usually undertaken for the purpose of weight loss or health promotion, but that may put the person at risk for significant harm.  Disordered eating is serious and can lead to severe complications in one’s life, so it is important to stay vigilant of the warning signs and symptoms. Unfortunately, disordered eating is extremely common due to the normalization of many disordered behaviors in primarily Western cultures. Common examples of disordered eating include:

  • Fad diets
  • Cleanses
  • Heightened focus on appearance
  • Skipping meals
  • Supplement misuse
  • Diet pills
  • Extreme social media focused on appearance or food
  • Undereating or overeating

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Living the College Life: Tips for Maintaining Healthy Eating Habits

Students taking notes

Whether you have struggled with an eating disorder or not, going away to school can present challenges in maintaining a healthy, balanced eating pattern. Below are some tips to consider as you settle into the collegiate lifestyle.

Maintain a consistent eating pattern

We know from both research and clinical experience that maintaining a consistent 3-meals-plus-snacks pattern decreases eating disorder tendencies (1). It also ensures that your body is receiving the energy and nutrition needed to support the life of a busy college student. Remember, you are feeding both your brain and your body.

Mind your macros

College cafeterias can open up almost endless food choices. Remember what your meal plan emphasized, balance your meal with foods that provide protein, fats and carbohydrates. Avoid falling into diet fads that restrict one food group or another. A balanced meal provides balanced energy and satisfaction, which prevents feeling overly full or being hungry again quickly.

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