Eating disorders

A preoccupation with food and body image can affect your ability to function well and enjoy life—it is possible to overcome eating problems with good support.

Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia involve a preoccupation with body weight and food and are usually accompanied by an overwhelming fear of fatness.

  • Anorexia commonly starts with dieting and then develops into obsessive control of food intake. Even though they are hungry, people with anorexia force themselves either not to eat or to eat only tiny amounts of food to keep their weight low.
  • Bulimia also commonly begins with dieting which leads to inadequate nutrition, hunger and fatigue, and develops into an out-of-control cycle of bingeing on food, sometimes followed by purging.

People who don’t have an eating disorder as such, may still experience problems around food and body image. Eating problems commonly involve obsessive thinking about food. Like eating disorders, people with eating problems may have a negative body image and an overwhelming fear of fatness. Eating problems include:

  • Binging and compulsive eating—eating in out of control ways when not physically hungry.
  • Yo-yo dieting—a cyclical pattern of starting and stopping dieting, which may be accompanied by significant weight changes.
  • Restrictive eating—limiting the amount and types of food eaten.

Eating disorders and eating problems are more common in women, but are also on the rise among men.

If you are concerned about your eating habits, or preoccupied with thoughts about food and body image, talk to someone at Student Health or Student Counselling about the support we can offer.