Which Eating Disorder Is Best Characterized By Extreme Weight Loss College Life – Unhealthy Eating Or Eating Disorder?

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College Life – Unhealthy Eating Or Eating Disorder?

Cafeterias, all-you-can-eat buffets, and late-night pizza deliveries are just a few of the temptations facing college freshmen as they adjust to their newfound freedom and life alone for the first time. Weight gain and poor eating habits are the likely outcomes for many, but an increasing number of college students, mostly women, suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating.

University life is stressful and some students have a harder time coping with a new routine and environment than others. When life gets overwhelming, some focus on food, weight, and calories as a way to exert control over a life that seems out of control. In some cases, stress can lead to overeating or making poor food choices. In more extreme cases, a person will purposely withhold food or gorge themselves and then purge themselves. While there is no single known cause, eating disorders can develop based on any of these factors:

Society’s pressure to be thin

Attitudes of family and close friends regarding appearance and diet

Stressful or life changing events

Emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression

While many college students have a true eating disorder diagnosed, even more students develop unhealthy eating habits and an unhealthy relationship with food. Often, it’s the hard-working culture of college life that can promote unhealthy eating. Signs you may have an eating disorder:

Vomiting after meals

Move food to plate but eat nothing

Eating very small amounts of only certain foods

Take diet pills

Do not eat or eat very little

Counting calories, weighing your food and obsessing over everything you eat

Eating disorders can develop into serious medical problems. When the body is denied nutrients that are important to function normally, long-term negative effects can include:

Increased risk of osteoporosis

Abnormally slow heartbeat and low blood pressure

Muscle weakness and wasting

Dehydration which can cause hypokalaemia (low blood potassium levels) and kidney failure

Fatigue, weakness, dry skin and hair, and hair loss

A continuous cycle of bingeing and purging can affect the entire digestive system and lead to electrolyte imbalances, tooth decay, inflammation of the esophagus and ulcers

The National Eating Disorders Association estimates that nearly 20% of college students suffer from some type of eating disorder. Because of their complexity, treating eating disorders requires medical attention and professional counseling. If you or someone you know is showing signs of an eating disorder, talk to a counselor, visit the campus health clinic, or join an on-campus support group. To find a provider or facility near you, download the free iTriage medical app or visit http://www.iTriageHealth.com.

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