Body Image and Eating Disorders
What is an eating disorder?
Anorexia, bulimia and binge eating are the three most common eating disorders.
Someone with anorexia:
- has an intense fear of gaining weight and typically has lost 15% of their original body weight
- has a distorted body image and often engage in intense and excessive exercise
- Women may experience an interruption in their menstrual cycle due to weight loss and inadequate nutrition.
- may experience hunger but feel in control when they resist the urge to eat
Someone with bulimia typically:
- engages in binge eating - eating large portions of food at one sitting, often in response to emotional, environmental stressors, or dieting
These episodes are often characterized by a feeling of being out of control of their eating.
- very often purges after binging to alleviate the discomfort and guilt created by food intake
Those with binge eating tend to:
- eat more than what is needed to maintain a healthy body
- generally eat in response to emotional or environmental stressors as well as responding to intense hunger from deprivation and dieting
- have usually dieted repeatedly in the past and have experienced shame about food and body
- feel discouraged and view their ability to handle their problems as inadequate
All of these eating disorders are serious health problems, perhaps life threatening, and can benefit from professional treatment available at UO.
Challenge Yourself to Have a Positive Relationship with Your Body
How much of your mental energy is spent on body image? Is your self-esteem affected by the extent to which you maintain control over your diet and weight? To help you become more aware of these destructive thoughts, we invite you to take a week and challenge yourself each day with the following.
- Monday- We challenge you to refuse to diet or engage in any dieting behavior. Studies have shown that weight-loss dieting only serves to promote diet/weight preoccupation and eating disorders.
- Tuesday- The challenge today is to refuse to engage in conversations pertaining to weight, diet or body image. Steer conversation away from these issues if they arise. (Notice how much time you usually spend on these issues).
- Wednesday-Go to the Counseling and Testing Center and pick up Eating Disorder brochures, and make it a point to discuss the contents with at least one other person.
- Thursday-Allow yourself two 15-minute periods for relaxation today. By allowing your body to relax, you become more connected to this part of yourself.
- Friday-At the start of every hour, think of something positive about your body and challenge any negative feelings. You are a valuable person exactly as you are.
- Saturday-Examine your attitudes toward fatness and fat people. Try to eliminate your own fattism and reject the fattism you observe. Refrain from making judgments about others' body size.
- Sunday-Approach but don't control! Approach someone that you feel my be suffering from and eating disorder. Let this person know you are concerned and be direct, but don't try to control their eating behavior. The best you can do for this person is to let them know you care and that you are there to offer support.