Eating and Body Image
How do you feel about your body?
- Do you worry about the weight, shape, or size of your body?
- Do you exercise just to burn off calories?
- Do you ever feel out of control when you eat?
- Do you diet, count calories, or skip meals to reduce how much you eat?
- Do you feel ashamed, disgusted, or guilty after eating?
- Do you feel like your identity and value are based on how you look or how much you weigh?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may be experiencing eating or exercise behaviors/attitudes that are taking a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
People with a negative body image have a greater likelihood of developing obesity and/or an eating disorder and are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, isolation, low self-esteem, difficulties concentrating, and obsessions with weight loss. Strive for body acceptance, find ways to be positive about yours and others’ bodies, and be healthy regardless of your size. Join the conversation about loving the skin you’re in by participating in The Body Project!
Understanding Your Relationship with Food
During the transition to college, students are faced with additional responsibilities, including making choices about what, how, and when to eat. Social pressures may lead to negative body image which can encourage excessive dieting and similar unhealthy behaviors. Some students use food and/or food restriction, exercise, etc. to cope with stressful events. Disordered eating behaviors coupled with negative body image can lead to more serious issues such as eating disorders, depression, or anxiety, aggravate an already existing health condition, or lead to problems in school, work, and/or social life.
Eating disorders affect nearly 20 million women and 10 million men in the US (NEDA).
Anorexia Nervosa Symptoms
- Restriction of intake (food restriction, fasting, over-exercise, etc.) leading to significantly low body weight
- Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming “fat”
- Preoccupation with weight/shape/size
Bulimia Nervosa Symptoms
- Preoccupation with weight/shape/size
- Bingeing & Purging
- Vomiting, laxatives, exercise, etc.
Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms
- Sense of lack of control over eating
- Eating more quickly than normal
- Eating a lot of food when not hungry
- Eating alone due to embarrassment
- Eating followed by feelings of guilt, disgust, or depression
Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder
- Disordered behaviors that do not meet other diagnoses but significantly impair functioning such as
- Atypical anorexia nervosa (weight is not below normal)
- Bulimia nervosa of low frequency
- Binge-eating disorder of low frequency
- Purging disorder (purging without binge eating)
- Night eating syndrome (excessive nighttime food consumption)
How do I know if I have a problem?
Take a free, anonymous online screening: http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/NEDA
Treatment and Resources
Treatment can help, and recovery is possible! Individuals may have different treatment needs depending on type and severity of the unhealthy eating and exercise behaviors.
What resources are available on campus?
- Counseling & Psychiatry: https://www.sa.sc.edu/shs/cp/
- Nutrition Services: https://www.sa.sc.edu/shs/cw/nutrition/
- Primary Care: https://www.sa.sc.edu/shs/care/
- The Body Project: https://www.sa.sc.edu/shs/cw/nutrition/bodyproject/
What resources are available in South Carolina for specialized or higher levels of treatment?
- Selah of the Carolinas: http://www.selahcarolinas.com
- Eating Recovery Center, The Carolinas: http://carolinas.eatingrecoverycenter.com
- Friedman Center for Eating Disorders (ages 8-24): http://www.musckids.org/friedman-center
What national resources are available?
- Proud 2B Me: http://proud2bme.org/
- National Eating Disorders Association: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
- National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders: www.anad.org
- Binge Eating Disorder Association: www.bedaonline.com
- The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness: www.allianceforeatingdisorders.com
- The National Association for Males with Eating Disorders: http://namedinc.org/
- Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders: http://www.feast-ed.org
- Eating Disorder Hope: http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com