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An unfortunate and unhealthy phenomenon has developed in our culture around body size and body image. The collective voices of societal and peer pressure tell us that thin is beautiful and too-thin is even better, holding up unrealistic and unhealthy Hollywood measurements as the ideal. These messages have an impact on both males and females of all ages, and when body image confidence is shaken to the point that it becomes a preoccupation, body image disturbance and eating disorders can develop.
The three most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. It is important to understand that difficulties with eating may fall within a wide range or continuum, and some people are affected only mildly while others may struggle with one or more eating problems.
The following definitions and questionnaires are not designed to diagnose an eating disorder, but to get you thinking about your own relationship with your body image and your eating patterns. If you answer “True” to even a few of these items, you might want to talk to a counselor, a physician or a nutritionist about your concerns. The University Counseling Center can provide you with information, consultations, assessments and individual or group counseling about these prevalent and important issues. You can also obtain more information by going to the following website:
Anorexia Nervosa involves a preoccupation with or fear of gaining weight and restricting food intake to the point of significant weight loss. People struggling with anorexia restrict their eating drastically and sometimes use extreme exercise to speed weight loss.
Bulimia Nervosa involves binge eating episodes in which the person consumes large amounts of food in a short amount of time, feeling unable to stop or control the eating. Following or during the binge, the person will “get rid of” the food by purging (usually by vomiting, using laxatives or over-exercising).
Binge Eating describes a pattern of over-eating in which a large amount of food is eaten in a short amount of time, but without purging behaviors.