Eating Disorders

"Eating Disorders are complex illnesses that usually develop from several interconnected factors. Long-standing behavioral, psychological, interpersonal, biological and social conditions all play a role in eating disorders. Scientists and researchers are still learning about the underlying causes of these emotionally and physically damaging conditions.

Eating disorders may start as a preoccupation with food and weight however; they are most often about much more than food.

Skidmore College has worked to create a community of care to increase awareness and treatment of eating disorders.

Health Services and the Counseling Center work together to address eating disorders at Skidmore. If you are concerned about yourself, a friend or a loved one please contact the Counseling Center at (518) 580-5555 or Health Services at (518) 580-5550.

Understanding Disordered Eating

On the surface, it seems like eating disorders are about just that—eating, food, body image, and weight—but really they are about so much more. If you struggle with eating issues, you may feel that there's more to your struggle than food but may be unable to identify or communicate what is happening for you. Eating disorders develop due to a variety of complex, interconnected biological, psychological, interpersonal, and behavioral factors.

People with eating disorders may have difficulty identifying and/or expressing their feelings. They may have been given strong messages growing up that their feelings are unimportant or wrong and therefore they try to distance themselves from their emotions. Others feel that food and weight can give them a sense of control that they don't otherwise feel in their life. Sometimes restricting, binge eating, or purging becomes a coping mechanism when there are problems in friendships or family relationships. This may or may not sound familiar to you-everyone is unique and has had a different set of life experiences that contribute to who they are today. The important thing is to be open to exploring who you are and the various factors that may contribute to why your thoughts or behaviors about food, body, and weight feel distressing or out of control. Below are descriptions of different types of eating behaviors and disorders as well as information about how to get help for eating issues.


Disordered Eating
At any given time, ten percent or more of late adolescent and adult women report eating disordered symptoms. Disordered eating refers to a range of irregular eating behaviors that are milder in severity than symptoms associated with an eating disorder. These behaviors may include ritualistic eating habits, restrictive dieting, bingeing, or purging but they do not warrant a diagnosis. Although these symptoms do not satisfy full diagnostic criteria, they do cause distress and impairment. Interventions with these individuals may be helpful to prevent the onset of a full blown eating disorder.

Anorexia Nervosa is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by self-starvation that occurs in both men and women. People with this disorder refuse to maintain a healthy body weight and have an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. They often have an inaccurate perception of their own weight and shape and deny the seriousness of their low body weight. Women may miss their menstrual cycles.

Bulimia Nervosa is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a cycle of bingeing followed by compensatory behaviors designed to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating. This disorder occurs in both men and women.

Binge eating involves eating large amounts of food—more than most people would eat in one meal—in short amounts of time. People feel out of control as they binge and they consume food until they're uncomfortably full. Compensatory behaviors typically follow a binge and may include self-induced vomiting; misuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or other medications; fasting; or excessive exercise.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a type of eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) and is characterized by recurrent binge eating without compensation for the behavior.    

Worried about a friend or loved one? 

Check out these tips on how to start a conversation:  How To Talk About Eating Issues

Getting Support on Campus

At Skidmore, we take a team approach to eating disorders with Health Services and the Counseling Center working closely together. If a student needs assistance with eating issues while at Skidmore, feel free to contact the Counseling Center (518-580-5555) or Health Services (518-580-5550) to learn about resources and set up a support system before arriving on campus. Students are welcome to make an appointment at any point during the year by stopping by either office, both located on the first floor of Jonsson Tower.

Health Promotions  works closely with the Skidmore Nutrition Action Council (SNAC) to bring Eating Disorder Awareness Week and National Nutrition Month to campus annually.  These events feature renowned speakers and guest lecturers, panel discussions, awareness events, and the dissemination of Skidmore-specific data.

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