Eating Concerns

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If you are concerned about a friend's eating behaviors, or your own, call PACS to speak to a caring therapist about your concerns.

Students struggling with mental health issues can also feel isolated. Problems are frequently kept secret out of embarrasment or shame. This is especially common for students with eating concerns. Many times, students with eating disorders come to PACS reporting they "feel like the only one". While national statistics show that bulimia and anorexia are on the decline on college campuses around the country, eating concerns still constitute a major health and wellness issue for students. In fact, the psychologists and counselors at PACS consistently report that almost 10% of the students seen for services have some type of eating disorder.

To better assess the problem on our campus, PACS and the Health Services conducted a survey of UNH students to assess the frequency and type of eating concerns on campus. Here are the findings of that survey:

  • While a clear majority of students (63%) reported exercising a lot as a way of keeping fit, almost 10% said that their exercising interfered significantly with other important activities. And another 10% said that they continued to exercise despite injury!
  • Over 50% said that their weight and/or body shape influenced how they felt about themselves to a significant degree!
  • Over 50% said they feared gaining weight!
  • More than two-thirds said they thought certain parts of their bodies were too fat.
  • Male and female students reported eating disordered behaviors at similar rates.
  • We also found that over half of the students surveyed said they knew someone with an eating disorder

What is 'normal' eating?

"...a healthy relationship with food means eating in response to physical hunger most of the time. However, normal eating can also include experiences such as eating occasionally because something looks good, eating past fullness at a special meal, eating in response to an emotion once in a while or choosing foods based on nutritional content because this feels care taking. Attuned eating means that eating for satisfaction is predominant, and experiencing deprivation is virtually non-existent. Attuned eating is a natural skill. It can be relearned by people who have lost touch with their hunger and can be reinforced and nurtured in children so that they maintain this healthy relationship with food throughout their lives."

Taken from: Matz, J. and Frankel, E. (2004). Beyond a shadow of a diet: The therapist's guide to treating compulsive eating. New York: Brunner-Routledge


A great online resource to check out: