Disordered Eating in College

Read time: 4 min.

Photography by Jess Mingrino

It’s no secret that disordered eating habits occur at college; in fact, many of them are developed and incubated during a student’s four years. Gaining the freshman fifteen from caf cookies is the fear for some. And this innocent fear can develop into a more serious issue; especially for athletes. When student athletes enter college, new food options become available to them. In addition, most teams have required lifting sessions which tend to be quite body bulking. These factors lead to some athletes eating more than they have in their life due to convenience and availability, while others move towards restrictive eating to compensate.

These disordered habits can become even more prevalent with injured athletes. Usually, the rigorous activity of playing a sport can counteract much of what is being put in your body, depending on the person. However, when athletes get injured, they lose this balancing factor. Kelly Lamorte, a woman’s soccer player, suffered two knee surgeries and said that during recovery, “I ate less for fear of gaining weight because I wasn’t doing as much.” You’re in a tough spot because you can no longer rely on sports to stay lean and ready for your eventual return to play. Therefore, injured athletes can move toward disordered eating habits, such as under-eating, which could be carried over into life post-injury.

In addition to injury, these tendencies can also be groomed due to an athlete’s specific sport. For a football player, they may overeat to keep on mass, yet a swimmer may heavily restrict their diet. Injury definitely impacts your relationship with food because you know that nothing is being worked off or is being used as fuel. or example, if you’re lying in bed recovering from surgery, you think, what am I really fueling right now? Now, this is distorted thinking, I know, but such circumstances arouse this mindset.

It also doesn’t help that there’s a real lack of healthy food options both at Fordham and in the Bronx community. If you want to eat off campus there is the ever-so nutritious Best and Rams Deli, and wedged between them is White Castle. Only down the block is Arthur Avenue if you want some quality food. But who has the cash to be going there consistently without your parents thinking you’ve developed a vape habit? Without nutritious options, students and athletes alike commonly alter their eating behaviors to compensate. Junior volleyball player Maddy Walsh says when traveling with her team, “There’s pressure to finish your plate because it’s ‘good food.’ It’s really unhealthy to think like that and get into the habit of cleaning your plate even though you’re so full.”

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A lot of mental factors are in play as a student athlete. It is easy for an athlete to feel out of control while trying to balance school work, sports, and somewhat of a social life. Personally, when I was an athlete here at Fordham, I fell into the trap of using food consumption as something I could regulate . I felt this especially during times such as preseason, when the team comes a month early to school. You are on campus 24/7 and have no distraction from your situation. All control is taken as you are a part of this group mindset and lose a little bit of your independence. This is for good reason because team is more important than the individual, but this lack of control can make people go a little stir crazy and thus try to compensate in other areas such as food.

Such eating habits are considered commonplace during college years; however, when metabolisms slow down and athletes stop playing their sports, these distorted views move into adulthood . This restrictive eating and the abundance of a cafeteria won’t be available for the rest of our lives, but the impacts that they incur very well may be.

CultureSam Parker