Eating Disorders

Overview of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a group of serious conditions in which you're so preoccupied with food and weight that you can often focus on little else. Eating disorders can cause serious physical problems and, at their most severe, can even be life-threatening. Most people with eating disorders are females, but males can also have eating disorders.

Understanding / Identifying

When you look in the mirror, how do you see yourself? Body image is our personal view and interpretation of our body. 

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. 

Eating disorders are psychological illnesses in which persons become obsessed with food and with their body weight. People with eating disorders have an extremely distorted body image. Food becomes a ruling passion in their lives. At the same time, eating disorders aren’t really about food. Food is the mechanism used to help cope with underlying difficulties.

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.

Ways to Feel Good About Your Body

  1. When you find yourself being critical of your appearance, tell yourself to stop. It does no good to be unkind to yourself.

  2. Remind yourself of what you like about your appearance. This may take some time and practice.

  3. Break the habit of comparing yourself to others in terms of appearance.
  4. Don’t criticize or comment on other people’s weight or appearance.

  5. Strive to value yourself for other strengths besides appearance: are you intelligent, witty, kind, artistic, etc.?
  6. Pay attention to the way the media influences your self-image, and stay away from media that causes you to feel badly about your body.
  7. Compliment others for things besides their physical appearance.

  8. Focus on developing skills and abilities that have nothing to do with appearance.

How We Can Help

The University has resources that can provide:

  • Medical examination and assessment of health status and physical risks due to an eating disorder.
  • Referral and coordination of treatment with Counseling Services staff who provide psychological assessment and intervention
  • Educational programs, peer education and referrals provided by Health Education & Promotion.
  • Nutritional counseling by professional staff.

You can schedule an intake with a counselor or we have urgent care services available from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday - Friday at 219 North Hall, or for an appointment, call (530) 752-2349.

  • If you would like to be seen by our medical staff, please contact our Appointment Desk to schedule an appointment.
  • To make an appointment at the Student Health & Wellness Center, call (530) 752-2300
  • Also, our Advice Nurse service is available at no charge for all UC Davis students to discuss health concerns and the need for medical care.


Below are resources to guide you or someone you are concerned about in recovering from an eating disorder.

Eating Recovery Center of California

The Eating Recovery Center of California in Sacramento offers an intensive treatment program. Many students choose the lowest intensity treatment if they are in a difficult place with their disorder or if they are relapsing. It offers a combination of group, individual, medical and nutritional guidance in one location, and is covered by most insurance plans.

Additional Resources