Healthy Campus Initiatives: Healthy Mind

Eating Disorders


No one consciously chooses to have an eating disorder. Eating disorders are not the same as being on a healthy diet or having a little too much to eat one day. They are a mental health concern, with anorexia having a mortality rate higher than any other mental illness, and should be treated accordingly. 95% of those suffering with eating disorders
are between the ages of 12 and 25.

Anorexia Nervosa |Bulimia Nervosa | Binge Eating | Treatment for Eating Disorders |A Word About Body Image


The National Institute on Mental Health identifies two main categories of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Binge-eating disorder fall into another category considered “eating disorder, not otherwise specified.” (EDNOS) Though mostly women and girls are affected by disordered eating, men and boys can have eating disorders as well. One out of four cases of pre-adolescent anorexia occurs in young boys, and men are equally affected as women in binge eating disorder. Males more often have a past history of obesity whereas women are usually close to average weight prior to onset of the eating disorder. Eating disorders often change over time. with most patients having a course that changes over time, from anorexia to bulimia, and then to a mixed state, or to an EDNOS.


Eating disorders are treatable, and help is available at Rowan University and in the surrounding community.


Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is defined by emaciation of the person suffering, a distorted body image, strong fear of gaining weight and an unhealthy obsession with thinness. Even though the individual may be malnourished, the sufferer may still see herself as overweight. Individuals with anorexia may weigh themselves multiple times per day and eat only extremely small portions of food.

Other symptoms can include:
• Thinning of the bones
• Brittle hair and nails
• Dry or yellow skin
• A growth of fine hair all over the body
• Mild anemia
• Severe constipation
• Cessation of a menstrual cycle in women and girls
• Person feeling cold constantly
• Lethargy

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Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia nervosa is another type of eating disorder that often starts with weight-loss dieting in a ‘pursuit for thinness’. An extreme urge to eat may be the result of the starvation reaction that is caused by food deprivation and insufficient nutrition. Once the person gives in to this urge, the desire to eat seems uncontrollable, with binges often being on foods with high fat and sugar content, followed by compensatory behaviors of vomiting, using laxatives or diuretics, fasting or excessive exercise. Additional dieting often follows, often more strictly – leading to a frantic binge/purge/exercise cycle that becomes increasingly compulsive and uncontrollable as it progresses.
According to the National Institute on Mental Health, a person who is bulimic may maintain a “normal” weight, even though the person may have an intense obsession with weight, losing weight and their body shape.

Symptoms of bulimia can include:
• Consuming a large quantity of food
• Frequent trips to the bathroom after eating
• Sore throat
• Swollen glands in the neck
• Worn tooth enamel and decaying teeth
• Reflux disorder
• Kidney problems
• Feelings of shame for binging, purging and the secrecy involved

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Binge Eating
Binge eating is characterized by the overconsumption of food. Those suffering with binge eating disorders are often overweight or obese. They may feel guilt or shame about the binge-eating, which often leads to more food overconsumption. Men tend to be more represented among binge eaters.

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Treatment for Eating Disorders
Often there are underlying psychological issues with eating disorders. The Rowan Counseling and Psychological Services Center provides both group and individual therapy to address underlying issues and work on maintaining a healthy body image and safe weight. The Counseling Center also works with a multi-disciplinary team of professionals within and outside the University to provide resources to best serve Rowan students.

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A Word about Body Image
According to the National Institute on Eating Disorders, body image is:
• How you see yourself in your mind’s eye or when you look in the mirror
• What you believe about your own appearance
• How you feel about your body
• How you sense and control your body
• How you feel in your body, not just about your body. Are you comfortable in your own skin?
For more information about body image, check out this page: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/nedaDir/files/documents/handouts/BodyImag.pdf

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Rowan has resources available to help student suffering with eating disorders or negative body image. Be healthy; get help.

Counseling and Psychological Services

Student Health Center