Is My Eating Normal?

People often feel pressure to meet society's "thin ideal." It can become hard to imagine that one can succeed in life and love unless you fit this image. It is important to be aware that habits you develop to achieve a low weight can become excessive and make you vulnerable to developing an eating disorder.

Everyone I know diets. What's the difference between trying to lose weight and an eating problem?

Serious eating problems often start from dieting. When dieting and fitness routine becomes extremely strict and inflexible, interferes with ability to enjoy life, and impacts feelings of self-worth that is a sign of disordered eating.

Examples of disordered eating:

  • Fasting or chronic restrained eating
  • Skipping meals
  • Binge eating
  • Self-induced vomiting
  • Restrictive dieting
  • Unbalanced eating (e.g. restricting a major food group such as 'fatty' foods or carbohydrates)
  • Laxative, diuretic, enema misuse
  • Steroid and creatine use — supplements designed to enhance athletic performance and alter physical appearance
  • Using diet pills

To learn more about disordered eating and eating disorders, visit the National Eating Disorders Association website.

My eating trouble isn't that extreme. Why should I worry?

Ask yourself, "What am I missing out on in life while I spend so much time obsessing about being thin?" Disordered eating can create an overwhelming and continuous battleground for individuals, their families, and friends.

Disordered eating behaviors often start to serve a function for the individual, such as providing a sense of control, and can be hard to give up or challenge. Education and support can go a long way toward winning the battle.

The risks associated with disordered eating are severe. People with disordered eating may experience:

  • A clinical eating disorder (Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating or Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders)
  • Weight gain
  • Osteoporosis - a condition that leads to bones becoming fragile and easily fractured
  • Fatigue and poor sleep quality
  • Constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps

Maybe my eating is more of a problem than I thought. What should I do?

Don't keep it a secret — Talk to someone you trust, and ask for their support. This is the first step and from there you can hopefully begin to challenge disordered behaviors and get the support needed.

Seek help — The Student Counseling Center has caring professionals that assist students struggling with eating disorders and eating concerns. It is understood that eating disorders go far beyond just the food or the "thin ideal," but rather start to serve a function for individuals. Treatment options include:

We can also help connect you to outside resources in the community.

What to expect — An assessment is completed to determine the severity of the problem and to identify individual concerns and needs. Treatment recommendations will be made for each student. Recommendations may include the development of an individualized plan for treatment utilizing the services on campus, or a referral to a more intensive level of care than can be provided at UT Dallas.

Contact the Student Counseling Center or the Student Wellness Center for more information.

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