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January 16, 2004

Behavior

Question from Windsor, Ontario, Canada:

I have been living in residence at university since September of this year. Even in the time leading up to me moving to school, I was very nervous about the meal plan that was mandatory for all students living in residence because of all the hype surrounding weight gain in first year university. Because, as a first year student, I was required to invest a certain amount of money in the meal plan which expires at the end of the year, I have the ability to buy large amounts of high carb, high calorie food and the amount of money on my meal card supports this quite adequately. I realize it is compulsive behavior, but since I have been at school I engage in binge eating and don't cover it with insulin, as well as sometimes forcing myself to throw up after eating inappropriate amount of food. I engaged in this behavior prior to moving to university, but it had stopped for some time because I was able to address the issue by only eating when I was hungry and actually analyzing whether or not I was hungry. It is unfortunate but the meal plan here is set up in such away that it is very conducive to this behavior. I have in fact found that other girls on my floor are bulimic and I wonder if it's a coincidence or if it's a result of the kind of eating habits that are being encouraged. In spite of everything I know I can't continue on like this even if its only tell April. I know it's the meal plan that's at the root of the problem because I don't engage in this behavior on breaks when I am at home with my family.

Answer:

The fact that your appetite problems are resolved at home does rather raise the possibility that there is some other stress in college life beyond the temptations of the meal plan that is the cause of your problem. I think that the first step would be to see if the student health service could not arrange some simple counseling that might be able to disentangle this issue.

DOB
Additional comments from Dr. Linda DiMeglio:

I would recommend that you find a psychologist or at least a physician on or off campus that you can discuss these issues with. Bulimic behavior is something that should be addressed before it gets out of hand, and is not a typical response to a college meal plan.

LAD
Additional comments from Dr. Larry Deeb:

You must seek help! Maybe someone can help with the behaviour as well as maybe help with the mandatory meal plan. Lots of young women are bulimic. Add diabetes and it is a recipe for disaster.

LD