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Managing Disordered Eating on Campus

Everywhere I go on campus I hear people gaping over how many calories are in Titos or whining about the so-called “wretched” freshman 15.… College can be a terrifying place for someone with disordered eating, trust me, I know. Trying to gain weight is really difficult when I go on Tiktok and my feed is exclusively girls flexing about how they’re losing weight at college. It makes me want to put my head in my pillow and scream my lungs out, and I know I’m not alone in this. But hey, we’re in this together. If you’re completely overwhelmed and you’re trying to keep your disordered eating at bay, you’ve come to the right place. I struggle with the restriction of my food intake, so that’s what I will speak most to. If that’s not how you struggle, you are still 100% valid. 

Doesn’t it sometimes feel too easy in college to just not eat? You may not have enough time to eat in between classes, or the idea of going into the dining hall feels near impossible, or you may feel anxiety about choosing which food to get. But PLEASE EAT, your body needs these precious nutrients to survive- so let’s struggle through eating at college together. A tip from my nutritionist is to carry granola bars, little bags of nuts, or your favorite snack in your bag. This fights back against your brain’s restricting thought of “I don’t have enough time.” Even if you have back-to-back classes, there are still 10 precious minutes to whoof down a granola bar. I believe in you; that Nature Valley granola bar is the perfect energy boost between classes.

Not always finding people to go to the dining hall can feel pretty alienating. And I know I should tell you guys that it’s not a bigggg deal to go to the dining hall alone and that no one will judge you. That is 100% logical and true, but I tried that and promptly freaked out. So! How about some alternatives instead. Personally, I feel comfortable eating alone doing homework or on my phone at any table or chair outside, Curry, Tatte, Pavement Coffeehouse, Panera, and my dorm, obviously. Don’t force yourself to go into the dining hall alone and risk triggering yourself when you have sooo many other alternatives. Chances are you’ll see me outside Stetson West with my Outtakes- don’t be afraid to join me if you need someone to eat with :) and hey if it’s a particularly rough day and you can’t even fathom going out to grab food, use Doordash or Ubereats!!! 

When you do go to the dining hall or grab food with other people, make sure they’re supportive. Find that strong support system, the people who will say hell yeah grab another serving of pasta, and not those who comment on calories or portion sizing. Eating adequate portions is already hard enough, so find people who will cheer you on and not trigger the thought of restriction. If you’re struggling with deciding what to eat, remember that there is no right or wrong food choice- if you don’t like what you get, go grab something else! And any food you don’t choose you will end up seeing again. But if the decision is just too difficult, you can grab whatever your friend is getting or have them decide for you. So remember your choice of what to eat isn’t final and there’s no wrong pick!

I know it’s so easy to fall back into your disordered eating habits; this college environment just fuels the fire of restriction, but to be able to focus, study, and do well in class we all need to eat adequately! You are not alone in your struggle, we all got this :)

Katie Rank

Northeastern '25

Studying health sciences at Northeastern with some stories you can hopefully relate to :)
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