Fostering Healthy Body Image
College can be a stressful time for students, and sometimes they use food as a coping mechanism. Sometimes, a different schedule or menu can affect weight.
It is not uncommon for students to gain or to lose weight. Determining if it is a problem requiring professional help can be tricky.
Warning signs of a more serious eating disorder:
- Extreme weight loss or weight gain, necessitating new clothing to fit their new shape
- Obsession with or rejection of food
- Binge eating
- Vomiting or purging after meals
- Personality change
If you notice these warning signs, begin by asking, “Are you okay? You seem a little down (or stressed, or anxious, or different).” This might help open a dialogue about the issue.
- Share your concern about changes in personality and mood, rather than appearance.
- Suggest a doctor’s visit or counseling.
If you are more concerned, visit the Renfrew Center’s website (renfrew.org) for a therapist in your area who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders.
Cabrini’s Office of Counseling and Psychological Services can offer additional advice and resources.
- Examine your own beliefs and behavior related to body image and weight and consider how others might interpret the messages they get from you.
- Encourage healthy eating and exercise.
- Talk about the variety of different body types and the fact that they can all be acceptable and healthy.
- Discuss the danger of dieting, and that studies show people can actually gain more weight by restricting their calorie intake by too much.
- Label foods as “good” or “bad”
- Use food for rewards or punishments
- Encourage dangerous dieting or over-exercising
- Comment on weight or body types
- Allow teasing or making fun of anyone based on physical characteristics including size
Cabrini offers free confidential counseling for all students.
- To schedule an appointment, call 610.902.8561.
The Renfrew Center specializes in eating disorder treatment and education.
- For more information, visit renfrew.org or call 1.800.RENFREW.