Information for Students with Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a group of serious medical and/or psychiatric conditions in which you're so preoccupied with food and weight that you can often focus on little else.  Food becomes a ruling preoccupation for patients with eating disorders.  Ironically, eating disorders aren’t really about food but are the manifestation of deep-seated psychiatric problems.  Food is just a way of coping with the underlying problem.  Eating disorders can cause serious physical problems and, at their most severe, can even be life-threatening.   Eating disorders are more common in women but can occur in men. 

We encourage you to seek help right away if you have concerns in these areas, or any symptoms associated with disordered eating.This can help prevent life threatening conditions and harm to your health, AND help keep you on the right track to success at the U of L. Campus Health Services (CHS) as well as other services listed below are here to help you find your best path to recovery and success.

Some Signs and Symptoms of a Disordered Body Image Include:

  • Thinking or talking about the flaws in your body.

  • Spending a lot of time in front of a mirror, obsessing about specific body parts.

  • Weighing yourself frequently and judging yourself by the number on the scale.

  • Refraining from enjoyable activities because you are ashamed or self-conscious about your body.
  • Obsessing about food, weight, and fitness level in private and/or in public.
  • Distorted body image and dieting are thought to contribute to eating disorders.

Common Types of Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa: A disruption of normal eating habits characterized by excessive dieting, self-starvation, compulsive exercising, and loss of minimally 15% of normal body weight.

Binge Eating:   Characterized by consuming large quantities of food typically in response to stress. Excessive weight gain is a common outcome

Bulimia:    A cycle of uncontrolled binge eating followed by purging through vomiting, the use of laxatives or excessive exercise. For the most part, a binge consists of consuming large quantities of food, but sometimes a person may purge after a normal or even small intake of food.

Resources that UofL Can Provide include: 

  1. Medical examination and monitoring of health status and risks due to an eating disorder.  Contact Campus Health Services at 852-6479 to schedule an appointment.  
  2. Psychiatric services via internal referral from the health center or counseling center or external referral by your external psychiatrists. 
  3. Counseling services through the Counseling Center.   Contact the Counseling Center at 502-852-6565 for an appointment. 
  4. Educational programming through the Office of Health Promotion and Education for groups.  Contact Campus Health Promotion at 502-852-5429 for more information

What resources are available outside of the University of Louisville?

You may choose to receive care outside of Campus Health Services and the UofL Counseling Center. It may also be determined that the level of care you require can only be found outside of what we are able to offer on campus. If that is the case, and you have seen one of our providers, we will help you coordinate the transition to higher intensity care.  This includes transition to Intensive Outpatient (IOP), Residential or Inpatient treatment.

 all eating disorders look the same. Here is a list of less common eating disorders:

Anorexia Athletica
Not a formal diagnosis, usually part of anorexia, bulimia or obsessive-compulsive disorder. The person exercises beyond the requirements for good health.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder
A subtype of Obsessive-compulsive disorder. Excessively concerned with appearance. These sufferers are at an elevated risk for despair and suicide. Many undergo multiple plastic surgeries.

Muscle Dysmorphia ('bigorexia')
Opposite of anorexia. People obsess about being small and underdeveloped; and believe their muscles are inadequate.

Orthorexia Nervosa
Not an official eating disorder diagnosis, but the concept is useful. It describes “a pathological fixation” on eating a “proper” or “pure” or “superior” food. These people believe that they are superior to people who eat ìimproperî foods (non-organic or junk foods) as opposed to food from health food stores. They also obsess about the proper way to prepare foods. This is related to an obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Night-Eating Syndrome
Most of the daytime calories are eaten late in the day or at night. They feel guilty about how many calories they ate the night before and often delay the morning meals.

Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder
Thought to be a sleep disorder, not an eating disorder. The person sleep-eats, and may sleep walk as well.

Rumination Syndrome
The person eats, swallows, and then regurgitates the food back into the mouth where it is chewed and swallowed again. This process may be repeated several times over for several hours per episode. It may be voluntary or involuntary.

Gourmand Syndrome
The person is preoccupied with fine food, including its purchase, preparation, presentation, and consumption. Exceedingly rare, thought to be caused by an injury to the brain.

A craving for non-food items such as dirt, clay, plaster, chalk or paint chips.

Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome
Cycles of frequent vomiting, usually found in children. May be related to or share neurological mechanisms with migraine headaches.

Chewing & Spitting
The person puts food in his/her mouth, tastes it, chews it, and then spits it out. This is a calorie control behavior seen in anorexia. The person can experience the enjoyment of food but avoid the calories by not incorporating the nutrients into the body.

Campus Resources:

UofL Psychological Services Eating Disorder Specialty Team 

UofL Counseling Center

UofL Campus Health Services--Psychiatry

UofL Campus Health Services--Medical

UofL Department of Psychiatry

Eating Anxiety Treatment Research Lab  

--the EAT lab is available on the Beknap Campus

--Free treatment through participation in research

Free Eating Disorder Recovery Support Group

- free support group available on the Beknap Campus.  

Community Resources


Louisville Center for Eating Disorders

Provide intensive outpatient program with nutrition counseling, specialized therapy and medication consultation for eating disorders

General Resources: 

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD)

National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA)

Eating Disorders:  About More Than Food 

Publication from the National Institutes of Health