Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are complicated medical and psychological issues that affect a wide range of individuals. At Penn State Behrend, the Eating Disorder Support Team (EDST) is here to help and confidentially guide students who may be struggling with disordered eating with the goal to positively impact overall wellness and ensure effective treatment.

The EDST provides support, referrals, and treatment for students with an eating disorder. As a collaborative team, this means that students will have access to a therapist, nutritionist, and physician. Community referrals also are available.

Personal Counseling: Disordered Eating Behaviors

Learn ways to ease the conversation when approaching someone who may have an eating disorder.

Credit: —Nicole Lowry, Assistant Director of the Personal Counseling Office

What are eating disorders?

There are four main types: anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and hypergymnasia.


  • Severely restricting food intake through dieting or fasting; may include self-induced vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Intolerance for cold
  • Dehydration
  • Preoccupation with food
  • Fear of weight gain
  • Flat mood
  • Soft hair growth on face and body


  • Being preoccupied with your body shape and weight; fear of weight gain
  • Feeling that you can't control your eating behavior
  • Eating until the point of discomfort or pain
  • Eating much more food in a binge episode than in a normal meal or snack
  • Forcing yourself to vomit or exercise too much to keep from gaining weight after binging
  • Misusing laxatives, diuretics, or enemas after eating
  • Restricting calories or avoiding certain foods between binges
  • Using dietary supplements or herbal products excessively for weight loss

Binge Eating Disorder

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as over a 2-hour period
  • Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
  • Eating even when you're full or not hungry
  • Eating rapidly and until you are uncomfortably full
  • Frequently eating alone or in secret
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty, or upset about your eating
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
  • Unlike a person with bulimia, after a binge, you don't regularly compensate for extra calories eaten by vomiting, using laxatives, or exercising excessively. You may even try to diet or eat normal meals. But restricting your diet may simply lead to more binge eating


  • An ongoing daily preoccupation with exercise
  • Feelings of guilt or anxiety when normal exercise schedule is not followed
  • Exercising instead of working or attending school
  • Feelings of isolation while exercising
  • Loss of more than 5% of healthy body weight
  • Lying about the extent of exercise routine
  • Exercising when significantly ill or injured
  • Thinking about food only as it relates to exercise
  • Basing self-worth on the amount of exercise completed each day

How can I really be sure if I have an eating disorder?

To determine if your eating behaviors fall into a problematic range, take this assessment. It’s free and confidential!

You can always refer to the EDST team by emailing Nicole Lowry.

Another option is to call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

How can I help a friend?

  • Don’t be afraid to share your concerns in a gentle, caring way. “I’ve noticed that you don’t want to go out to eat with me anymore” or “I’ve noticed you seem sad lately, what’s the matter?”
  • Know your limitations. Eating disorders are biological-based illnesses, thus the need for professional multi-level treatment. BUT…don’t underestimate the power of a listening ear. Be consistent in your efforts to be present with your friend through this journey of recovery.
  • Confide in a person you trust about your friend, including people on the EDST team! Professional intervention is necessary to promote healing. The best thing you can do is direct your friend to the help they need while being supportive along their recovery journey.