College Life & Approaching Adulthood: Is an Eating Disorder a Retreat from this Evolution?

Blog Contributed by Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC for Eating Disorder Hope

In many ways, the step towards college is signifying of a changeover into adulthood. With the new responsibilities that come with the independence of being a college student, a level of maturity and reliability is required to thrive in the evolution of an adult.

Some students make this transition easier than others, facing new challenges with stamina and determination. Others have a more strenuous time during this critical period and may experience greater difficulties in this phase of growth and expansion.

The Transition to College Is Tougher

Eating disorder sufferers may be among those whose transition to college is characterized with greater intensity and rigidity. The countless changes involved during this time coupled with the need for greater self-reliance and independence can become overwhelming to the individual who is still recovering from an eating disorder.

As a college student emerging into adulthood, an eating disorder can appeal as a retreat from the responsibilities and emotional maturity that is needed for progression.

A Way To Keep Control In The Face Of Change

Eating disorders are complex mental health illnesses that arise due to the conglomeration of several factors, including genetics and environment. Whether it is Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder, or another form of disordered eating, eating disorders can be continually sustained by a need for protection, defense, and control.

For some individuals who have experienced traumatic situations or circumstances in which they feel out of their element, an eating disorder may serve as a distraction, or as a way to synthesize control and containment.

The Many Thoughts Of An Eating Disorder

Taken in the context of a college student who may be suffering with an eating disorder, the perpetuation of behaviors and thoughts that are a part of the disease may be triggered by:

  • A heightened sense of stress
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling out of control

In the midst of decisions pertaining to career choices, finances, and social circles, an individual can create an artificial sense of control through:

  • Counting calories
  • Controlling food intake and weight
  • Rigidly adhering to food rules

Being consumed with thoughts about food, weight, calories, etc can be a distraction, a safe haven from the turbulence that is adulthood.
However an eating disorder may have served you, it is important to understand the reality of these mental health illnesses.

Eating Disorders Numb, But They Don’t Help

Maturing and growing through the next phase of your life will be filled with uncertainties, but an eating disorder can only numb you from the joy and magnitude that is life. While you may find protection in the great shadow of old habits and ways, understand that your potential as an adult and human being can never be reached while held in the captivity of an eating disorder.

If you are searching for freedom from an eating disorder and ready to experience your life to the fullest, be sure to reach out to a trusted person about your struggles. Life, in college and beyond, awaits you today!

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.