Eating Disorders

Managing Body Image Concerns

Dr. Sarah Schwartz of SCPS presents information about managing body image concerns. Reminder that SCPS offers 24/7 crisis phone consultation for Auburn students by calling 334-844-5123. If in a life-threatening situation, dial 911.

Basic Information

Eating disorders are a disturbance in nutrition intake, eating behaviors, and thoughts of food and/or the body. Eating disorders are very serious mental illnesses and are not a lifestyle choice. Therefore, it is important to know your risks and treatment options.

Eating Disorders often encompass physical, mental, and behavioral side effects and symptoms. See a full list of signs and symptoms from the National Eating Disorder Association.

Some of which include:

  • Behaviors and attitudes that indicate that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns
  • Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, carbohydrates, fat grams, and dieting
  • Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g., no carbohydrates, etc.)
  • Food rituals (e.g. eats only a particular food or food group [e.g. condiments], excessive chewing, doesn’t allow foods to touch)
  • Skipping meals or taking small portions of food at regular meals

Eating Disorders and disordered eating often encompass a wide range of symptoms and behaviors. Take this assessment to understand your risks and treatment options.

The first step of treatment for an eating disorder is asking for help from your support system and health professionals. Treatment for an eating disorder can be local or at a treatment center depending on the severity of the illness. It is recommended that an individual with an eating disorder consult support from a doctor, therapist, dietitian, and psychiatrist.

Yes! Auburn University has an Eating Concerns Treatment Team, which consists of practitioners from Auburn University Medical Clinic, Student Counseling and Psychological Services, and Nutrition Services. For more information, contact Student Counseling and Psychological Services at 334-844-5123.

Body Image

Generally, body image is the way in which an individual perceives the body’s shape, size, abilities, and characteristics. See the National Eating Disorder Association’s definition of body image here.

Frequently, we hear about an individual who may have “poor body image” or “negative body image”; This tends to mean that the individual is not happy or satisfied with the way their body exists, particularly when talking about shape, size, and ability. If body image is poor or very negative, an individual may attempt to change their body shape or size by modifying their diet, exercise regimen, or other lifestyle factors. While this is not always a cause for concern, an individual can increase their risk for medical complications, including an eating disorder, disordered eating, or increased poor body image if they consume less food than necessary for the body to properly function or burns more energy than the body has available.

The National Eating Disorder Association provides 10 Steps to a Positive Body Image.  However if poor body image persists overtime or body image lowers an individual’s quality of life, it is important to consult with professionals, such as a doctor, therapist, dietitian, and psychiatrist.

Body diversity is a movement to recognize that healthful bodies may exist in many different ways based on genetics, environment, and lifestyle factors. Follow this link more information on body diversity and how it relates to body image.



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Last modified: 08/12/2021