My College Eating Experiences in Recovery: What Are My Options?

College Student

An astounding number of college students are struggling with eating disorders today, with many students learning how to navigate various aspects of their recovery journey while on their college campuses.

According to a survey completed by the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), the rate of eating disorders among college students surveyed increased from 7.9% to 25% for males and 23.4% to 32.6% for females over a thirteen year period [1].

Early detection and professional interventions are necessary for college students to establish recovery from an eating disorder and be able to successfully complete their collegiate years with an improved prognosis.

Depending on the severity of the illness, a college student may take a leave of absence from school in order to seek out professional treatment for an eating disorder or attend treatment while in school part-time. Other college students may maintain their treatment through an intensive outpatient program (IOP) or even outpatient, which allows greater flexibility for working and attending classes while staying connected to help or support.

Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of treatment as a college student is eating consistently and sufficiently to support eating disorder recovery efforts. Because of the nature of college and the overloaded schedules that many students have, eating and self-care often take the backburner.

Many students fall in two extremes when it comes to eating while on campus: either not eating enough and not eating regularly to support their needs, or eating whatever they can get whenever the opportunity arises.

Unfortunately, both of these eating patterns are detrimental and can be triggering for a student in recovery.  Learning the basics of meal planning, meal preparation, and cooking and grocery shopping basics in treatment can be invaluable for the college student navigating recovery on campus.

Using Available Options on Campus

Working with your eating disorder dietitian can help you figure out not only what to eat throughout the day, but how to structure a meal plan that is suitable for your needs with the options you have on campus.

Another common obstacle many college students face is figuring out their options on campus that are conducive with their lifestyle and recovery.

This might involve taking advantage of an on-campus market and/or cafeteria, utilizing venues College studenton campus for food when needed or in a time-crunch, like restaurants, snack shacks, coffee shops, etc., as well as becoming familiar with your local grocery stores and knowing what foods you need to be purchasing regularly to have basics on-hand.

Whatever your scenario may be, it is important to know that you have the resources needed to maintain your meal plan for eating disorder recovery while in college. Work closely with your treatment team, including your registered dietitian and support group, to help navigate the specific challenges you face on campus and individualize your approach to eating while in school.

Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Director of Content and Social Media for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.


[1]: National Eating Disorder Association, “Collegiate Survey Project – Why the Collegiate Survey Project”, Accessed 8 May 2017.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on May 15, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on May 15, 2017.
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