Not all eating concerns or problems are eating disorders.

Many people experience difficulties with eating and or body image at some time in their lives. They don’t or can’t eat enough. They eat too much. They don’t choose nutritious foods. They don’t like the size or shape of their bodies.

Living in our culture, many of us have some concerns about food and body image-related issues. These are generally normal, everyday concerns. If eating or body image attitudes and behaviors are affecting mental and physical well-being, however, assistance and support may be helpful.

Attitudes and behaviors that may be of concern:

  • Skipping meals
  • Avoiding eating meals or snacks when around other people
  • Constantly calculating fat grams and calories
  • Weighing yourself often and being obsessed with the numbers on the scale
  • Self-esteem being dependent on size or weight
  • Exercising because you feel like you have to, not because you want to
  • Being afraid of gaining weight
  • Feeling out of control when eating or exercising
  • Eating patterns that include extreme dieting, severely limiting foods eaten, withdrawn or ritualized behavior at mealtime, or secretive binging
  • Weight loss, dieting, and/or control of food becoming a major concern
  • Feeling ashamed, disgusted, or guilty after eating
  • Worrying about the weight, shape, or size of your body
  • Feeling like your identity and value are based on how you look or how much you weigh

If you weigh yourself, skip meals, count calories, or exercise too much doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to seek assistance. Sometimes, however, a person’s attitudes about food, weight, and body size may jeopardize health, happiness, and even safety. If you are concerned about a friend’s eating behaviors, or your own, that is a signal that counseling may be needed.

Counseling Center staff can work to help you understand and cope with many of these thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You may feel relief and ease just from talking about them. Eating concerns and problems are issues that can get better. Asking for help and support is an important first step.