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The Student Who Has Disordered Eating

The Eating Disorders Support Team

The University of Connecticut’s Student Health Services (SHS) and Counseling and Mental Health Services have established an Eating Disorders Support Team. Students with eating disorders may participate through self-referral, by referral from a friend, or by referral from another health care professional. Students who participate may receive coordinated support that includes medical evaluation, psychiatric and psychological evaluation and services, nutritional counseling and women’s clinic services. The Eating Disorders Support Team gives support to these specialized outside services and serves as an adjunct to the student’s care versus their primary provider. Often an outside specialist is required in order for the support team to supplement care.

Facts About Eating Disorders

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

Eating disorders usually refers to Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and/or Binge Eating Behavior.

  • Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by restricted eating, self-starvation and excessive weight loss.
  • 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.
  • Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating that are not followed by inappropriate compensatory behaviors (purging) to prevent weight gain.

What You Can Do

  • Select a time to talk to the student when you are not rushed and won’t be interrupted.
  • In a direct and non-punitive manner, indicate to the student all the specific observations that have aroused your concern, trying not to focus on body weight or food.
  • Your responsibilities are not to diagnose or provide therapy; it is the development of a compassionate and forthright conversation that ultimately helps a student in trouble find understanding, support, and the proper therapeutic resources.
  • If the information you receive is compelling, communicate to the student your tentative sense that he or she might have an eating disorder as well as your conviction that the matter clearly needs to be evaluated.
  • If you have any questions regarding the resources available or approaching a student, call the Nutrition Office 860-486-0771 or Counseling and Mental Health Services 860-486-4705.

Avoid

  • Avoid conflicts or a battle of the wills with your student.
  • Avoid placing shame, blame, or guilt on your student regarding their actions or attitudes.
  • Avoid giving simple solutions. For example, “If you’d stop, then everything would be fine!”
  • Do not intentionally or unintentionally become the student’s therapist, savior, or victim.