Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders Support Team

The University of Northern Iowa University Health Services has an Eating Disorders Support Team. Students with eating disorders may receive assistance through self-referral, by referral from a friend or parent, or by referral from another campus professional. Students who participate receive coordinated care that includes medical evaluation, psychological evaluation, nutritional and lifestyle counseling and women's clinic services.

To talk to one of the health professionals at University Health Services you can call the Student Health Clinic (319) 273-2009, Counseling Center (319) 273-2676, or Health Education counseling (319) 273-2137.

What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders are not necessarily about food, but food is the tool that people with eating disorders abuse. Eating disorders have both physical and psychological symptoms. They are characterized by abnormal attitudes and feelings about food, weight and body shape, an extreme disruption in eating behaviors and weight management, and intense anxiety about body weight and size.

Eating Disorders usually refer to three different entities: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder.

  • Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by restricted eating, self-starvation and excessive weight loss. There is a refusal to maintain weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height. An intense fear of gaining weight and an unrealistic fear of becoming fat also exist. Body image is distorted. An unhealthy concern with body weight, shape, and even a particular body area may persist (like "oh, my thighs are so huge").
  • Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by recurrent episodes of overeating large amounts of food in a short period of time (the binge) followed by some form of purging, including self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic abuse, fasting, diet pills, or excessive exercise, intended to prevent weight gain. The attempt to prevent weight gain is often unsuccessful.
  • Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating that are not followed by inappropriate compensatory behaviors (purging) to prevent weight gain. It often presents with a sense of lack of control over eating during the binge, overeating large amounts of food in a short time period of time, and eating alone because of being embarrassed by the amount one is eating.

Do I have a problem?

There are many levels of eating disorders. Some general questions which may point to a need for further evaluation include:

  • Do I weigh myself daily?
  • Do I skip at least one meal a day?
  • Do I count calories and fat grams?
  • Am I currently or frequently on a diet?
  • Have I lost weight? How much?
  • Do I experience binge eating?
  • Do I purge (vomit, use laxatives or diuretics) after meals?
  • Do I exercise excessively?
  • Do I exercise because I want to or because I feel I have to?

Do you answer yes often? If so you might want to consider talking to one of the health professionals at University Health Services or your own provider to learn more.