A national study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that 9% of high school senior girls in the United States reported self-induced purging or laxative use as a means to control their weight. For college age women, body image concerns are even more prevalent. Overall, 35% to 45% of adolescent girls report difficulties with weight control, regard themselves as ‘too fat’, or aspire to become thinner.

As we’ve previously discussed here, finding social acceptance at an unfamiliar school can create stress for a young girl, but the academic pressures of a new school year often contributes to the onset of an eating disorder. Teens and young adults who fear that they can’t keep up with the workload, or have anxiety over other academic demands, may engage in or return to disordered eating habits in an attempt to maintain control over at least one area of their life—her weight.

Prevent an Eating Disorder Relapse

While we know that change is good, it’s not necessarily always easy, especially if change is coupled with eating disorder recovery. For those individuals in recovery from an eating disorder, routine and schedules are very important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. So, the best way to deal with potential triggers as you return to school is to be as prepared as possible. Transitioning from the laid-back ways of summer to a rigorous schedule, homework, and rules of academia do take some adjustment. It’s important to note that a little flutter of anxiety in regards to the start of the school year is normal; it’s nothing to worry over.

Some important things to remember as you cope with these changes are:

  • Stay Positive — Your attitude has a strong influence on how you view your life. Set a positive expectation about the school and recognize that your anxiety doesn’t have to be a stop signal. Embrace this new and challenging situation.
  • Take Care of Yourself — With a flurry of homework and studies, you may find yourself compromising sleep or skipping meals to get everything completed. Your health is paramount. Eating nutritious meals and getting a good night’s sleep will help to keep your anxiety under control, and it will help you to be more alert and focused during class.
  • Talk about Your Feelings — Stress and anxiety are a lot easier to handle if you can talk to someone. When people feel overwhelmed, they can often feel alone as if no one else understands or could understand. It’s important to realize, especially with studies and homework that there are plenty of people struggling with the same issues. Check out your college’s resources and student support programs as well.
  • Plan Your Time — Staying organized can help you to keep track of your homework, papers to write, tests to study for, etc. To avoid feeling burned-out, make a list of what needs to be done and stay organized. This will allow you to block off time to work on your studies as well as provide yourself with a moment to relax.
  • Use Your Skills/Strategies — For those in recovery, make sure to utilize the skills, strategies, and reminders that you learned during your time in treatment. Use positive self-talk. By employing these techniques, they will help you manage your anxiety and stress and work to prevent relapse and to neutralize triggers.

We Can Help

Many schools and universities have resources to assist students including awareness campaigns, eating disorder-related programs, and trained staff to help recognize students with eating disorders and those at risk for developing an issue. Once an eating disorder has been identified, it is crucial to seek treatment.

The Meadows Ranch has been treating eating disorders for more than 20 years. We know recovery is possible. Based on feedback from patients, families and professionals, the vast majority of our patients remain committed to a life of health, balance and purpose.

For additional information about the treatment of eating disorders, please call to speak to a Counselor at 866-390-5100 and we will contact you with the information you need.