National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is February 25-March 1 

Data reveals that nearly 20% of college students admit to having an eating disorder and nearly three-quarters have never received treatment (National Eating Disorders Association). National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is February 25-March 1 and as part of this national observance, EIU Counseling Center will be offering anonymous screenings online at www.mentalhealthscreening.org/screening/easternillinoisuniv . The questionnaires are anonymous and provide immediate feedback as well as information on how to get help if needed. 

Eating disorders frequently co-exist with depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse. A comprehensive new study from The National Center on Addictions and Substance Abuse reveals that nearly half of those suffering from an eating disorder also abuse alcohol or illicit drugs, compared to just nine percent of the general population. People suffering from eating disorders may use drugs or alcohol for the same reasons they engage in eating disorder behaviors, to control their weight or to self-medicate negative emotions.  

In the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder including: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. 

“Eating disorders do not discriminate by gender. About 80% of women want to lose weight, but an equal number of men want to change their bodies—either lose weight or ‘bulk up’ by putting on muscle,” says Leigh Cohn, editor-in-chief of “ Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention.” “Men with eating disorders are reluctant to seek help, because diagnostic criteria are often gender biased. They are unaware that they have a problem, are often in denial or secretive, and they are stigmatized for having a ‘women’s problem.’” 

“I was a good student, a good athlete and a role model, and yet I struggled with horrible body image, unbearable perfectionism and a people-pleasing mentality that led me to take drastic and dangerous measures to control my weight,” says Troy Roness, a graduate student at Minot State University in Minot, North Dakota. “It was hard being away at school—from the financial and academic pressures to missing my family and just wanting to fit in and be liked. I didn’t realize men could suffer from an eating disorder until I nearly died.” 
 

Learn the signs and symptoms of the more common eating disorders.    

Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia/Bulimia/Binge Eating (Male or Female)

    • Constant adherence to increasingly strict diets, and eating only a few certain "safe" foods, usually those low in fat and calories
    • Refusal to eat and/or denial of hunger
    • Habitual trips to the bathroom immediately after eating
    • Secretly bingeing on large amounts of food
    • Hoarding large amounts of food
    • Increase in consumption of laxatives, diuretics or diet pills
    • Exercising compulsively, often several hours per day
    • Using prescription stimulant medications (like Adderall) and/or illicit stimulant drugs (like cocaine) to suppress appetite
    • Withdrawal from friends and family, particularly following questions about his/her disease or visible physical/medical side effects
    • Avoidance of meals or situations where food may be present
    • Preoccupation with weight, body size and shape or specific aspects of one's appearance
    • Obsessing over calorie intake and calories burned via exercise, even as one may be losing significant amounts of weight
    • Adopting rigid meal or eating rituals, such as cutting food into tiny pieces or spitting food out after chewing (Source: Timberline Knolles, 2011)  

“Food concerns, body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem can keep a student from achieving at school or sports and hinders social activities like dating or being with friends. This program offers education and screening to help students stop unhealthy eating habits before they evolve into full-blown eating disorders,” says Angi Parker. 


EIU Counseling Center is offering this educational screening program as part of the National Eating Disorders Screening Program ® , sponsored by the national nonprofit Screening for Mental Health ® . If you would like more information, or would like to schedule a presenation visit http://www.eiu.edu/~counsctr/.