EATING DISORDERS IN STUDENTS

Eating disorder is a growing problem in our present days. It has become popular in children, adolescents especially college students and adults as well. Stress is one of the biggest contributing factors of developing an unhealthy relationship with food, and the transition from high school to college is a big life change.

Eating disorder have negative impact on our health, our emotions and our ability to function in important areas of our life. Eating disorders involves too much attention on our weight, body shape and food, leading to dangerous eating behavior. These behaviors can significantly impact your body’s ability to get appropriate nutrition.

According to the Multi-Services Eating Disorder Association (MEDA), 15 percent of women aged 17 to 24 have an eating disorder and 20 percent of all college students reported they have or previously had an eating disorder.

SIGNS OF EATING DISORDER

Eating disorders develop due to various reasons as students are more involved in school and college activities neglecting their eating patterns and healthy food. Symptoms of eating disorders differ by its type, but the following are some of the important warning signs.

  • Repeated, negative thoughts about your body: Constantly not feeling good about your own body type. Here we focus on things we don’t like about our
  • Skipping Meals: To avoid the daily calorie intake, you skip meals, try to fill up on liquids or eat foods that are low in calories but don’t provide real nutrients. You will also try to make excuses for not
  • Food dominates your thoughts: You always think about your next meal, how many calories it contains and how you can make it less calorically
  • Fear of eating with others: Due to your eating habits you will stop eating with other. There will be a fear if anyone see you eat or being questioned about your eating habits.
  • Excessive exercising: While regular exercise is healthy, but when you show extreme anxiety about missing exercise or appears to be exercising to the point of injury, it can be a sign of an eating
  • Others Symptoms: Others signs like leaving during meals to use the toilet, Calluses on the knuckles from inducing vomiting, always checking in the mirror

TYPES OF EATING DISORDER

Mainly there are three common eating disorder those are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder which are discussed below.

ANOREXIA NERVOSA:

Anorexia nervosa affects a significant number of high school and college students. It is Characterized by weight loss and the individual leading an unhealthy weight for their physique. Here the individual excessively limits calories or use other methods to lose weight, such as excessive exercise, using laxatives or diet aids, or vomiting after eating.

SYMPTOMS OF ANOREXIA:

  • Depression or lethargy
  • Constantly feeling cold, unable to control body temperature
  • Loss of or thinning hair
  • The absence of a normal menstrual cycle
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Phobias related to eating specific foods, or eating in public
  • Dehydration
  • Irregular heart beats
  • Osteoporosis

BULIMIA NERVOSA:

Here the individual typically eat a large amount of food in a short time, and then try to get rid of the extra calories in an unhealthy

SYMPTOMS OF BULIMIA:

  • Lack of control in eating
  • Sense of fear around food
  • Body dysmorphia
  • Fear of eating in front of others
  • Lack of a regular menstrual cycle
  • Puffiness or swelling
  • Joint/muscle pain
  • Tooth decay and/or gum disease
  • Digestive issues
  • Anxiety and/or depression

BINGE EATING DISORDER:

Binge eating disorders often begin in the late teens or early 20s.Here the individuals constantly consume large quantities of food during a short period of time and often feel they have no control over their eating.

SYMPTOMS OF BINGE EATING DISORDER:

  • Feelings of stress or anxiety around food
  • Numbness or lack of sensations while binging
  • Lack of any sense of satisfaction from eating
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hypertension
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Joint/Muscle pain

DIAGNOSIS

Diagnoses may be provided by a medical doctor, mental health professionals or other experts who work with students battling eating disorders. Studies have shown that diagnosis at an earlier age greatly improves the health of individuals with eating disorders, making it integral for students to be aware of their behaviors and seek help.

There is a series of tests are performed such as:

  • Physical tests (lab tests), the first step is to be examined by a medical professional who can distinguish the symptoms of eating disorders from other medical issues.
  • Psychological evaluations, a self- assessment questionnaire is provided to the students, students are also asked food related questions, their thoughts and feelings about food by psychiatrist.

TREATMENT

Different types of treatment are provided below:

  • Stick to a regular eating schedule- Make a healthy eating schedule and try your best to follow it.
  • Don’t diet- Instead of dieting focus on nutritious foods that will energize you and make your body strong. Eat when you’re truly hungry, then stop when you’re full.
  • Seek help from nutritional counselling- A dietician can’t change your habits overnight, but help you incorporate healthy eating behaviours into your everyday life in certain period of time.
  • Stop body checking- Stop looking into the mirrors in every now and then, It’s better to accept yourself. Stop comparing yourself to others.
  • Cultivate and reinforce a healthy body image- Whatever your shape or size may be stay confident and positive about yourself. Avoid criticizing your own body. 
  • Stay Active- Focus on activities you enjoy and do them because they improve your mood, not because they might change how you look. Outdoor activities can help to boost self-esteem. Hence, stay positive both physically and mentally.

– article written by

Madhumita Das
M.A. Psychology
Govt. Autonomous college Rourkela

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