National Eating Disorders Association

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Struggling in College

Hi everyone,

I'm brand new to the site and am looking for some advice.

I've had an eating disorder for eleven years. I just got out of treatment (only time through) and have been in recovery for almost four months. I'm a college senior and school started about a week ago.

I'm already having a difficult time with managing my eating disorder in school. I have to eat in our cafeteria, which has proven really challenging so far. It's very small, food options are limited, and I have a hard time piecing together something that will satisfy my meal plan. It makes me really anxious on top of it being crowded and loud like any other cafeteria. I often want to give up and leave. It takes me on hour or longer to calm down enough to force myself to eat after having a hard time in the cafeteria. However, the cafeteria is the best option as far as finances go.

In addition, I live in a dorm. Living with other college students has been kind of triggering so far. Odd and unhealthy eating patterns and lots of partying/drinking are pretty constant.

Has anyone else dealt with these kinds of problems? Any advice on how to get through the academic year and maintain recovery?

Stay strong!

Hi redrosedust,

First of all, congratulations on being in recovery for the past 4 months - that is a huge accomplishment! I'm sorry to hear you're struggling now that you're back at school, but you're not alone - living on a college campus can definitely be a challenge for anyone in terms of healthy eating, let alone maintaining recovery for an eating disorder. But I'm so glad you've reached out for help here on the forums - it shows that you're motivated to get through these obstacles!

For me, when I relapsed in college, seeking out professional support at my university's student health services was really helpful. I was able to be matched up with a therapist through the counseling center, which helped me regain (and, more importantly, maintain) my recovery journey. Is there a similar health services center at your college where you could make an appointment to see someone? If not, is there any way you could see another provider who you worked with in treatment or who is close enough for you to visit during the school year? Having a constant source of help may make it a bit easier to stay on track despite all of the unhealthy eating/drinking that goes on.

The NEDA Helpline (1-800-931-2237 M-R 9-9, F 9-5 EST) is a great resource that you can call to learn about other options that might be available. NEDA support groups ( may also be able to connect you with others who may be struggling with similar issues, and the NEDA Navigator program ( can also match you up with someone to help you find options or just offer a supportive listening ear, who you can keep in contact with regularly throughout the school year.

Here are some other websites with some information that might be helpful:
Treatment information:
Relapse prevention:

I hope this helps! Stay strong!