Eating Disorder

eating issues

Warning Signs for Eating Disorders

  1. Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, and dieting, to the extent that it consistently intrudes on conversations and interferes with other activities.
  2. Excessive, rigid exercise regimen – despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury.
  3. Withdrawal from, or avoidance of, numerous activities because of weight and shape concerns.
  4. Expressions of anxiety about being fat which do not diminish when weight is lost.
  5. Evidence of self-induced (often secretive) vomiting, such as:
    • Bathroom smells or messes
    • Rushing to the bathroom immediately after a meal and returning with bloodshot eyes
    • Swelling of salivary glands gives the face a chubby “chipmunk” appearance
  6. Evidence (e.g., wrappers, advertisements, coupons) of use of laxatives, diuretics, purgatives, enemas, or emetics.
  7. Evidence of binge-eating such as hoarding and/or stealing food, or consumption of huge amounts of food inconsistent with the person’s weight.
  8. Alternating periods of severely restrictive dieting and overeating; these phasic fluctuations may be accompanied by dramatic weight fluctuation of 10 pounds or more.
  9. Inexplicable problems with menstruation and/or fertility.
  10. Extreme concern about appearance as a defining feature of self-esteem, often accompanied by dichotomous, perfectionist thinking (e.g., either I am “thin and good” or “gross and bad”)
  11. Paleness and complaints of lightheadedness, weakness, fatigue or disequilibrium not accounted for by other medical problems.

*Michael Levine, Ph.D. Presented at the 13th National NEDO Conference, Columbus, Ohio, October 3, 1994

Eating Disorder Screening

What is the screening and how could it help?

It is part of a year round Comprehensive College Initiative sponsored by The American College Health Association. The Student Counseling Service provides year round on-line screening tests for Eating Disorders and Depression for Miami University students. This initiative is intended to help colleges and universities "to address some of the most serious and preventable mental health issues on campus today." The goal is to educate and to promote prevention, early detection and treatment referral. Through these screenings, students can learn to understand their own risks and how and where to access health and counseling services at Miami University.

How do I take the screening? 

Take a Mental Health Screening and type in the password: miamiu and follow the instructions. Select Take a Screening and select the Eating Disorder screening. After you complete the screening, you may choose to contact the Student Counseling Service for further assessment or counseling. If you have additional questions, please call the Student Counseling Service at 529-4634.

Types of Eating Disorders

There are three forms of eating disorders: (1) Anorexia Nervosa, (2) Bulimia Nervosa, and (3) Binge-Eating Disorder.

Anorexia Nervosa has 3 main features:

  1. Significant weight loss – body weight less than 85% of that expected.
  2. Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat.
  3. Distortion of body image or self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight.

Bulimia Nervosa has 4 main features:

  1. Repeatedly binge eating – eating a large amount of food with a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control food intake.
  2. Repeatedly using compensatory behavior to prevent weight gain. These behaviors include self-induced vomiting; use of laxatives, diuretics or other medications; fasting; or excessive exercise.
  3. Binge eating and compensatory behaviors occur at least once a week for 3 months.
  4. Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight.

Binge-Eating Disorder has 5 main features:

  1. Repeatedly binge eating – eating a large amount of food with a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control food intake.
  2. Binge eating is associated with eating very rapidly, eating until comfortably full, eating large amounts when not physically hungry, eating alone due to embarrassment, or feeling disgusted, depressed, or very guilty after overeating.
  3. Person feels distressed about binge eating.
  4. Binge eating occurs at least once a week for 3 months.
  5. Person does not usually try to compensate for overeating.

What to do if you think your friend or family member has an eating problem:

  • Share your specific observations of problematic eating behaviors or weight loss openly and honestly. In many cases, the person is convinced that "no one notices" the private binges and purges, disappearing food, or weight fluctuations. Saying “I’m concerned because you seem to have lost a lot of weight, and I think you may have an eating disorder” is an appropriate way of expressing your concern.
  • Be supportive and caring when sharing your concerns for the person's health and well-being. Don’t shame, blame, or “guilt trip” the individual.
  • Avoid conflict or a battle of wills with the person if he/she does not acknowledge a problem with eating. Gently repeat your concerns and your availability as a support person for him/her.
  • Don’t “feed” into the problem by focusing on weight, food, exercise, or appearance. Do not comment about weight gained or lost after you have initially shared your concerns. 
  • Ask about life’s struggles - try to get the person to talk about feelings, conflicts, challenges, hopes and fears. Communicate that everyone sometimes struggles with life’s challenges.
  • Social involvement helps! Encourage the person to spend time socializing with others, going to class, and participating in activities. Let him/her know that withdrawing and isolating oneself often makes matters worse.
  • Model how you cope with problems - discuss your own conflicts, difficulties, mistakes, and failures with him/her. Encourage the perspective that no one is perfect, no one is in control all the time, and everyone has problems.
  • Don’t blame yourself - family and friends do not cause eating disorders but can be helpful in the process of recovery.
  • Refer to counseling - encourage the person to seek counseling to address their eating, weight, or body image problems. If it feels comfortable, offer to help the person make an appointment or offer to accompany him/her to the initial visit.
  • Student Counseling Service - Miami University students can contact the Student Counseling Service for individual or group counseling to address eating concerns or to consult about an individual you are concerned about. The SCS can also provide referrals to private practitioners in Oxford as well as referrals to medical and nutritionist resources. Call 513-529-4634, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for an appointment. SCS also houses a Multi-Disciplinary Eating Disorders Treatment Team to ensure the best possible holistic care for our students with eating disorders. The team is comprised of medical providers, mental health clinicians, and dieticians. Learn more about our services for eating disorders and body-image concerns.
  • Outreach Services - We are able to provide a variety of outreach programs by request to Miami University Student Organizations.

Additional External Resources

National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)

NEDA is the largest not-for-profit organization in the U.S. devoted to the prevention of eating disorders. The website offers a large quantity of prevention and education materials, videos, conferences, workshops, a newsletter, and online treatment referrals.

Something Fishy

The “pro-recovery” website Something Fishy is an extensive and well-organized resource for information on eating disorders. The web resources list on this site is the most extensive available on the internet, listing almost 100 sites focusing on eating disorders. This site also offers an interactive online chat and bulletin board.

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD)

ANAD offers education materials on anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, and lesser known problem-eating patterns. 

Women's Health

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has established the Office on Women's Health to provide national leadership and coordination to improve the health of women and girls through policy, education, and model programs. A variety of information is available on eating disorders – search this extensive site for your particular area of interest.

NAMED (The National Association for Males with Eating Disorders)

The National Association for Males with Eating Disorders (NAMED) provides this website for men who struggle with eating and body image concerns. The site provides information, support and resources.