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Eating Disorders


What are Eating Disorders?

The most common eating problems are disordered eating, bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating. Students who experience disordered eating may engage in restrictive dieting, overeating/binge eating, and/or purging to a mild degree. People with bulimia are often of average weight, binge on food, and then get rid of it by throwing up, exercising excessively, or using laxatives. People with anorexia restrict their food intake and often exercise excessively. They can be extremely thin, but can also be of any weight. Those who binge eat consume large amounts of food but do not purge, and are often overweight.

Eating disorders are not just about weight and food, but they are related to stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, need for control, and/or emotional pain. Cultural factors, psychological problems, learned behavior, family issues, interpersonal problems, and biological factors can all contribute to the development of an eating disorder. Eating disorders typically develop during adolescence and early adulthood. Both women and men may develop eating disorders.

For more information about eating disorders please visit the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) website and the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders website.


What are the Warning Signs?

Dieting, food restriction and over-exercise often lead to preoccupation with food and body weight and may be a warning that you are at risk for an eating disorder.

expandSome thoughts and behaviors which would indicate a serious problem:

  • I am so preoccupied with weight, food, calories, or dieting, that it consistently intrudes on conversations and interferes with other activities.
  • I have an excessive and/or rigid exercise regimen; I will exercise despite weather, fatigue, illness, and injury. I exercise to burn calories, and I feel guilty or won't eat if I do not exercise.
  • I have begun to avoid social and other activities because of weight or shape concerns.
  • I continue to be concerned about fat on my body, even though I have lost a lot of weight.
  • I have gone on eating binges where I feel that I may not be able to stop.
  • I intentionally vomit after I have eaten.
  • Food controls my life.
  • I have used laxatives, diet pills, or diuretics to control my weight or shape.
  • I chew gum constantly or I am always drinking water or diet beverages to control hunger.
  • I believe that I am "good" when I'm thin and "bad" when I am fat.

Eating disorders are serious diseases with major physical and psychological consequences. If you think you are at risk, or if someone has expressed concern about you, call the University Health Center Counseling and Psychiatric Services (706-542-2273) or the Health Promotion Department (706-542-8690) for more information.

For more information about types of eating disorders and signs and symptoms, visit the National Eating Disorder Association website.


How Much Exercise is Too Much?

Compulsive exercisers use excessive activity to "purge" the body of excess calories in order to maintain abnormal eating patterns or to prevent weight gain.

expandA few of the signs of a compulsive exerciser:

  • I am so preoccupied with weight, food, calories, or dieting, that it consistently intrudes on conversations and interferes with other activities.
  • Repeatedly exercising beyond the requirements for good health
  • Defines self-worth in terms of performance
  • Experiences strong feelings of guilt or anxiety if unable to exercise
  • Does not allow time off to heal injuries
  • Intense preoccupation with weight, body image, and/or calories expended

Physical consequences of this disorder include stress fractures, tendonitis, damaged bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments, anemia, loss of menstrual cycle, dehydration and fatigue.

If you believe you struggle with this issue, contact Counseling and Psychiatric Services (706-542-2273) or Health Promotion (706-542-8690).

For more information about compulsive exercise, visit:
Compulsive Over-Exercise – The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness
Compulsive Exercise: When and Why Is It Too Much? - Oliver-Pyatt Centers
Compulsive Exercise: Are You Overdoing It? - Web MD


What Services are Available to Help Students with an Eating Disorder?

The faster a person with an eating disorder gets help, the greater the chances for recovery. Recovery takes time and patience, and change occurs slowly, especially when behaviors have been long-standing. These are serious disorders that often require professional assistance for recovery.

A multidisciplinary team of professionals is available at the University Health Center to help students with eating disorders and disordered eating. The team consists of psychotherapists, a registered dietitian, and a physician's assistant. Psychiatrists are available for consultation about medication, and additional UHC staff are brought in when specialized skills or consultation is needed.

The UHC/CAPS eating disorders program offers comprehensive psychological, nutritional, and physical evaluations. The evaluation will assess the severity and type of eating disorder the student has. Appropriate treatment for each student will be determined. Individual psychotherapy, nutritional counseling, physical examination, and medication evaluation and monitoring are available. Referrals to community resources are made for concerns requiring more intensive treatment beyond what CAPS is able to provide in a short-term framework.

For more information on eating disorders, how to help a friend, and local treatment options call 706-542-2273 (Counseling and Psychiatric Services) or 706-542-8690 (Health Promotion).

The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) Helpline is a toll-free, confidential helpline that is available Monday-Thursday from 9AM to 9PM Eastern Time and Friday from 9AM to 5PM to give additional support to our contacts. You may reach the Helpline at (800) 931-2237.


What Services are Available to Help Students in Recovery from an Eating Disorder?

The University of Georgia offers a Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) that provides an environment where students recovering from addictions, including eating disorders, can find peer support as well as other recovery support services while navigating their own college experience.

The CRC is located in room 216 of Memorial Hall right next to Sanford Stadium.
CRC staff is available to answer any questions in person or via email or phone: crc@uhs.uga.edu / 706-542-0285.

  • Eating Disorder Anonymous (EDA) meetings are held weekly at the CRC on Tuesday from 2:00-3:00 pm during fall and spring semesters.
  • "Got Recovery" is the CRC's meeting that celebrates all forms of recovery and is open to all who are interested in learning more about recovery! The meeting is held each Thursday night from 5:15pm-6:30pm in Memorial Hall Room 216.

How to Help a Friend or Family Member with an Eating Disorder

If you are concerned that a friend or loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, begin by learning as much as you can about eating disorders, as well as local treatment centers and referral sources. Eating disorders are complex problems that are best treated by a team of health care specialists, including medical, psychological, and nutrition professionals. If you decide to talk to your friend about your concerns, it is important to do so in a kind and nonjudgmental way.

expandsome suggestions:

  • Plan to approach the person in a private place when there is time to talk and there are no immediate stressors present.
  • Tell her or him that you are worried and want to help. Present in a caring and straightforward way what you have observed and what your concerns are.
  • If the person denies the problem, becomes angry or refuses treatment, understand that this is often part of the illness.
  • Do not try to be a hero or a rescuer; you will probably be resented. If you do the best you can to help on several occasions and the person does not accept it, then stop. You may have planted a seed that encourages them to eventually seek help.
  • Be patient. You cannot expect overnight recovery even if the person is in therapy.
  • Be aware that this does not feel like a choice for him or her. They will not be able to stop these behaviors for you. His or her actions may seem selfish to you, but they may feel like the only option for your loved one.
  • Do not allow the person's problem to interfere with your normal functioning. You may also want to seek outside help for yourself.

The multidisciplinary eating disorders team at the University Health Center provides evaluation, treatment and outside referral, if needed.
For more information on eating disorders, how to help a friend, and local treatment options call 706-542-2273 (Counseling and Psychiatric Services) or 706-542-8690 (Health Promotion).

If the person is in immediate physical danger (e.g. passing out, extreme confusion), get them to an emergency room or UHC Urgent Care during clinic hours. Call Campus Police (706-542-2200) or 911.

The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) Helpline is a toll-free, confidential helpline that is available Monday-Thursday from 9AM to 9PM Eastern Time and Friday 9AM to 5PM to give additional support to our contacts. You may reach the Helpline at (800) 931-2237.

Visit these links for additional information about how to talk to a friend with concern:
Do’s and Don’ts for Reaching Out to Someone – Renfrew Center
What Should I Say? - National Eating Disorder Association


Campus Initiatives and Online Resources

Proud2BMe on Campus
A online network for young adults created by the National Eating Disorders Association to promote body acceptance and self-esteem and provide tools to college students to raise awareness for issues surrounding body image and eating disorders on campus. The website includes a forum to share personal stories, challenge standards of beauty presented in the media, and spread ideas to promote body acceptance.

Check out the How to Guides and Campus Activity Guide for step-by-step guides to bring eating disorders awareness and promote positive body image on campus.

National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) Walks
National Eating Disorder Association Walks are held annually in February at the UGA University Health Center. Each year, the walk is organized by the student group, FLY: For Loving Yourself, and raises money to support activities of the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) including creating educational materials, providing treatment opportunities, conducting research, and providing support for families impacted by eating disorders. Visit the Athens NEDA Walk Facebook page for information about the 2015 Walk. Check the NEDA Walk page for information about the Athens 2016 NEDA Walk. Information about the 2016 walk will be posted in November 2015.

Online Resources:
National Eating Disorders Association
Eating Disorders Information Network
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders