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Are Weight or Food Concerns Taking Over Your Life?

By Kaitlin Poillon, MS, RDN, LDN, Drexel Nutrition Counseling Services Practice Manager

Posted on February 20, 2023
Hands with fork and knife cutting into food.

Content note: This post discusses disordered eating.

Eating disorders can be very harmful and hard to shake, and are often tied in to our larger sense of well-being and self-worth. If you or a loved one are struggling with disordered eating, know that you are not alone. Drexel has a wealth of resources to help you move forward and heal.

Many people have a complicated relationship with food and body image. Perhaps you are experiencing stress, negative emotions or mental health challenges that affect your self-perception or how you eat. Perhaps you have simply internalized the common yet harmful social norms around diet, “fitness,” and weight. For some people, those complex feelings and “disordered eating” patterns develop into a diagnosable eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder, or bulimia nervosa, with the potential for long-lasting impact on physical and mental health. Next week (February 27-March 5) is Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), studies show that many young people either experience disordered eating or are at risk for it—especially among student athletes. Disordered eating can include things like anxiety or rigid behaviors regarding food, frequent dieting or fluctuating weight, preoccupation with body image, and more; this doesn’t necessarily result in an eating disorder diagnosis, but it can harm your health or lead to a full-scale eating disorder if not addressed. If you suspect that you, a friend, or a loved one may have or be at risk for an eating disorder, it’s important to get help as soon as possible to promote a successful recovery. Drexel can help!

Challenging Misconceptions

Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW) occurs every year during the last week of February to shine a light on the seriousness of eating disorders, bust misconceptions, and raise awareness of the life-saving resources available to help people recover. It’s also an opportunity to share personal stories of people in recovery, allow for open and honest discussions among people who are struggling, and offer support for those whose hardships are often invisible to others.

Contrary to what you may see in the media, anyone can have an eating disorder—regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender, size, or sexual orientation—and it often looks different on different people. Among many others, signs may include obsessing over diet or feeling like food, calories and diet management are taking over your life; over-exercising, steroid abuse, experiencing constantly fluctuating weight or dramatic weight gain/loss; or withdrawing from social activities you formerly enjoyed. You can find a list of potential signs and symptoms on the NEDA website, along with information about various eating disorders.

You Can Find Help at Drexel

If you or anyone you know is grappling with an eating disorder, Drexel University has many resources to assist. The Drexel Counseling Center offers free and confidential therapy services for students, the Center for Weight, Eating and Lifestyle Science (WELL Center) at Drexel University, the Student Health Center, and Drexel’s Outpatient Nutrition Counseling Practice all offer treatment. An eating disorder does not define you, and you are not alone!

For more information on NEDA and EDAW, go to Eating Disorders Awareness Week | National Eating Disorders Association.

Events This Week

Join Drexel for the following on-campus events this week:

  • Monday, February 20, 6–7 PM: "Under Fueling In Sport: Causes, Effects and Ways to Foster Improved Relationships with Food and Body." For student athletes ONLY.  Hosted by Renfew Center, Drexel Counseling Center and Athletics. In the Hospitality Suite.
  • Friday, February 24, 3–5 PM: Join Delta Phi Epsilon (DPhiE) and the Counseling Center at the Mario Statue for a mental health fair for ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) and a scale smash event!