Saint Louis University

Eating Disorder

Many college students struggle in their relationship with food. At times, that relationship can become destructive and dangerous. There are many types of troubled eating behaviors. Among the most common are:

Anorexia (also called Anorexia Nervosa) is characterized by low weight due to restrictive eating and/or purging and an intense fear of being "fat."

Bulimia (also called Bulimia Nervosa) typically refers to eating extremely large amounts of food followed by compensatory weight-loss behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting, diuretic or laxative abuse. Some can also compensate by exercising excessively to control weight.

Binge Eating Disorder (sometimes called Compulsive Eating) is characterized by repeated periods of impulsive gorging or continuous eating without regular compensatory behaviors (i.e. no purging, restricting or exercise).

If you are concerned about a friend, family member or yourself, here are some signs to look for:

  • An obvious increase or decrease in weight not related to a medical condition
  • Abnormal eating habits such as severe dieting, ritualized mealtime behaviors, fear of dietary fat, secretive binge eating or lying about food
  • An intense preoccupation with weight and body image
  • Mood swings, depression, irritability
  • Compulsive or excessive exercising, especially without adequate nutritional intake or when injured or ill
  • Thinning hair or hair that is falling out

There are many students who recognize their eating behaviors are not healthy, but are concerned about being judged, misunderstood or ridiculed. The caring professionals at the University Counseling Center are sensitive to these concerns. Here is what you can expect when you come to the counseling center:

  • An initial assessment with a counselor to determine if there is an eating disorder 
  • Weekly outpatient therapy appointments (when appropriate)
  • Possible referral to dietician
  • Possible referral to physician
  • When necessary, referral to community resources for more intensive treatment that may include intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization or inpatient treatment

  • If you would like to schedule an appointment, please click here for instructions

We have positive working relationships with several, local treatment providers who have specializations in treating eating disorders. You are welcome to contact these centers directly. At times, we make direct referrals to them based on our initial assessment.

Helpful Resources for additional information