Many students who are struggling with disordered eating may not know it—even if they’re familiar with anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Our 4-page feature (May 2015) outlined the “new” eating disorders—including the unofficial labels attached to certain behavioral patterns that college students may recognize.

How did our readers react? They were surprised. In a survey of more than 13,000 students who said they had read this piece, 85 percent reported that they learned something from it.

“It was fascinating to see some of the more unknown disorders brought to light. I thought mentioning fasting before/after drinking (‘drunkorexia’) is a really relevant and important point! So very, very well done article. :)” —Undergraduate, University of Guelph, Ontario

“The article…brought to my attention that I suffer from orthorexia. I didn’t even know that existed. I do have somewhat of a problem eating and only like to eat healthy or drink purified water…most of my money goes into purchasing good quality healthy organic food. I hate eating out in most restaurants and I never have money to go out.” —Undergraduate, college withheld

“Drunkorexia” is a term for food restriction or extreme exercise to compensate for calories from alcohol. This is associated with other disordered eating behaviors, such as extreme exercise and self-induced purging.

“Orthorexia” refers to extreme rigidity around food groups, which appears to be more common in men than women.

Visually, this piece went in a new direction for Student Health 101. The interactive, conceptual image captured and challenged the black-and-white thinking that goes with disordered eating.

At SH101, the health and wellness strategies we promote are aimed at multiple layers of the ecological model—a hallmark of successful health interventions. This article sought to empower students around body image and disordered eating through these (and other) guides and strategies:

  • Individual level: How to disempower your inner critic.
  • Interpersonal level: How to nourish each other’s self-belief and be thoughtful about body talk.
  • Organizational level: How to seek support from the campus counseling center and other resources.
  • Community level: How to tune out harmful media messages.

What students are saying:

“I learned that the less self-critical you are, the more likely you will be to optimize your physical and emotional well-being.”—Undergraduate, Santa Clara University, California

“I really found the article very interesting and helpful. I’d never really thought of the sort of idea of our bodies being in a relationship with the food we eat. I really liked the tips of mindful eating, self-care, self-worth, and intuitive eating. These are things I can apply to my everyday life, and can little by little make a big difference. All these tips are very encouraging, and I look forward to giving them a try.” —Nontraditional student, US

“I have a roommate with an eating disorder and this article gave me better insight to help understand her thought process.”—Undergraduate, Towson University, Maryland