About Us

We provide online therapy to high achievers in New York.


We specialize in supporting high achievers facing a range of challenges such as:


You have questions. We have answers.

From the Blog

5 Reasons Behind Eating Disorders in Athletes

Eating disorders among athletes are often overlooked, hidden beneath the surface of their physical achievements and prowess. Despite their athletic success, many athletes silently battle with disordered eating patterns, which can have profound consequences on both their health and performance. In this blog, we’ll shine a light on this important issue by exploring 5 common eating disorders in athletes and 5 key reasons why eating disorders occur in athletes.

5 Common Eating Disorders in Athletes

1. Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a serious mental health condition characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted body image. Athletes & eating disorders with anorexia often engage in extreme calorie restriction and may also excessively exercise in an effort to maintain a low body weight.

This can lead to significant physical consequences such as severe weight loss, fatigue, weakness, and hormonal imbalances. Despite these alarming symptoms, athletes with anorexia may go to great lengths to conceal their disorder, making it challenging to identify and address.

2. Bulimia Nervosa:

Bulimia nervosa involves recurrent episodes of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors to rid the body of excess calories. This can include self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives or diuretics, or excessive exercise. Athletes with bulimia may maintain a relatively normal weight, making it harder to detect compared to anorexia.

However, they may experience a range of health issues, including eating disorder in athletes, dental problems, electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal issues, and fluctuations in weight.

3. Binge Eating Disorder (BED):

Binge eating disorder in athletes is characterized by episodes of uncontrollable binge eating, during which individuals consume large amounts of food in a short period. Athletes with BED may feel a loss of control during these episodes and experience intense feelings of guilt, shame, or distress afterward.

Unlike bulimia, individuals with BED do not engage in compensatory behaviors such as purging. However, the excessive calorie intake can still have negative effects on their health and performance, leading to weight gain, metabolic issues, and psychological distress.

4. Orthorexia Nervosa:

Orthorexia nervosa is a term used to describe an obsession with eating only “healthy” or “pure” foods. While not officially recognized as a distinct eating disorder in athletes, diagnostic manuals, orthorexia can still have significant impacts on an athlete’s physical and mental well-being.

Athletes may become fixated on following strict dietary rules and avoiding perceived “unhealthy” foods, leading to nutritional deficiencies, social isolation, and anxiety surrounding food choices.

5. Compulsive Exercise:

Compulsive exercise is not classified as an eating disorder , but it often co-occurs with other eating disorders in athletes. It involves an unhealthy obsession with exercising, driven by the need to control weight or shape.

Athletes may feel compelled to engage in excessive workouts, even at the expense of their physical health and overall well-being. Compulsive exercisers may experience increased risk of injury, fatigue, burnout, and disruptions to other important areas of life such as relationships and academic or professional responsibilities.

5 Reasons Behind Eating Disorders in Athletes

1. Pressure to Conform to Body Image Ideals:

Athletes, just like anyone else, are not immune to the societal pressures surrounding body image. In sports where aesthetics are highly valued, such as gymnastics, figure skating, or bodybuilding, there exists an unspoken expectation for athletes to maintain a specific physique. This pressure can lead to unhealthy behaviors, including restrictive eating, excessive exercise, and even the misuse of performance-enhancing substances.

2. Performance Demands and Weight Class Sports:

In certain sports like wrestling, boxing, or lightweight rowing, athletes must compete within strict weight categories. This necessity to meet weight requirements can drive athletes to extreme measures, such as severe calorie restriction, dehydration, or overexertion through excessive exercise. The fear of not making weight or losing a competitive edge can fuel disordered eating behaviors, placing immense strain on the athlete’s physical and mental well-being.

3. Overemphasis on Control and Discipline:

Athletes are often lauded for their discipline, dedication, and ability to control their bodies. While these traits are undoubtedly valuable in sports, they can also contribute to the development of eating disorders in sports. Athletes may internalize the belief that controlling their food intake and body weight is synonymous with success and self-discipline. This mindset can lead to the establishment of rigid dietary rules, obsessive calorie counting, and an unhealthy fixation on food and weight management.

4. Influence of Coaches, Teammates, and Peers:

The culture within a sports team or athletic community can exert a significant influence on an individual’s relationship with food and body image. Coaches, teammates, and peers may inadvertently or explicitly endorse certain behaviors, such as skipping meals, resorting to extreme measures to “make weight,” or idolizing thinness.

Athletes may feel pressured to conform to these norms in order to gain acceptance, approval, or recognition within their sport, even if it means compromising their own health and well-being.

5. Coping Mechanisms for Stress and Anxiety:

Competitive sports can be emotionally and psychologically demanding, placing athletes under immense pressure to perform at their peak consistently. In times of heightened stress, anxiety, or low self-esteem, some eating disorders in athletes as a coping mechanism. Restricting food intake or engaging in purging behaviors may offer a temporary sense of control or relief from emotional distress. However, these coping mechanisms only serve to exacerbate underlying issues and can have serious long-term consequences on both physical and mental health.

Take the first step towards addressing your gymnastics & eating disorder today!

Addressing eating disorders in athletes is crucial for promoting both physical health and athletic performance. If you’re concerned about the impact of disordered eating habits on athletes and seeking support for prevention and treatment, therapy can provide valuable guidance and resources. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Schedule a Therapy Consultation: Reach out to Uncover Mental Health Counseling to start a conversation about eating disorders in athletes. Our compassionate therapists offer a non-judgmental space where athletes can explore their concerns and experiences with disordered eating.
  1. Connect with a NYC Psychotherapist: Our team includes experienced therapists who specialize in working with athletes and eating disorders. We’ll match you with a therapist who can offer personalized support tailored to your unique needs and challenges.
  2. Begin Your NYC Therapy Journey: Together with your therapist, you’ll explore the underlying factors contributing to eating disorders in athletes behaviors and develop strategies for recovery and prevention. Through compassionate guidance and evidence-based interventions, therapy can empower athletes to cultivate a healthy relationship with food, body image, and performance.

Share via:


More From Our Blog