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Disordered Eating

Disordered eating describes unhealthy eating patterns that can increase risk for health problems (e.g., bone loss, poor nutrition). Disordered eating can also increase risk for mental health issues, including depression or an eating disorder diagnosis.

Signs of disordered eating may include:

  • Yo-yo dieting or excessive calorie counting
  • Anxiety around certain foods
  • Rigid routines for eating and exercise
  • Feelings of guilt and shame associated with eating, weight, and body image
  • Inability to control eating
  • Hyper focus on food in a way that it negatively affects one's life
  • Body weight going up and down
  • Use of food to cope with emotions or stress
  • Use of exercise or fasting to make up for overeating

An eating disorder is a more severe diagnosed mental health condition. Symptoms of an eating disorder include disordered eating behaviors. Eating disorders can include:

  • Anorexia nervosa (intense fear of gaining weight and desire to lose weight by not eating)
  • Bulimia nervosa (recurrent episodes of overeating and purging behavior, such as self-induced vomiting)
  • Binge eating disorder (excessive and repetitive loss of control eating)

Women who have experienced trauma, including military sexual trauma (MST), or have a history of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be more likely to have disordered eating

What resources and services does VA provide for disordered eating?

Learning to manage stress may also help with disordered eating. VA offers Whole Health resources which can help you with a plan based on your needs. You may also get help from a dietitian at VA.

VA offers mental health services, including assessment and evaluation, medications, treatment, and individual and group therapy for mental health conditions associated with disordered eating, such as:

How do I access VA services for disordered eating?

Start with your primary care provider if you would like help for disordered eating. VA medical centers have designated primary care providers who can talk with you and guide you to the best resources for you. If you do not have a primary care provider, contact the Women Veterans Program Manager (WVPM) at your local VA. The WVPM can help you coordinate the services you may need.

If you don't already use VA health care, you may want to use the following online tools:

Find out if you are eligible for VA health care

Enroll in VA health care if you haven't already

Find your local VA and make an appointment

Where can I find more information and resources on disordered eating?

These links can help you learn more about disordered eating:

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The Women Veterans Call Center is your guide to women's health

If you have questions or can't find what you're looking for, you can call, text, or chat online with the Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC) at 855-829-6636 to get help and find available resources and services in your area. Trained women representatives can also:

  • Provide you with information on enrolling in VA health care if you have not already
  • Provide you with information on setting up a medical appointment in your area
  • Provide you with information about your eligibility (including questions about disability ratings) and other VA benefits like employment, education, and home loans
  • Connect you with your local VA Medical Center or local women's health contact who can assist in coordinating all the services you need

WVCC representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET.

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